Sachin Tendulkar may have cleared the air recently by saying that his priority in life remains his much-loved game of cricket. But when he takes oath as a Rajya Sabha member in New Delhi today, his plate of duty will get larger.

The fact that he has agreed to become a member of the Upper House means that he is ready to cope with expectations that are quite different from his cricketing challenges.

Doubtless, he will have to play his unnatural game as it were. Tendulkar is not known to be gregarious. His shy nature doesn’t allow him to be often seen and heard outside the arena he graces with distinction. But now, he will have to stand on a platform and speak out on aspects that are wrong and on matters that need mending.

It is assumed that he would restrict himself to the sporting sphere in his role as a member of the Rajya Sabha and that is fair enough. Tendulkar would do well to examine how India can change its sporting fortunes.

His exploits have caused experts to rate him as the greatest batsman ever in the modern era, but he didn’t become a star without a strong foundation. Like others of his trade, he too emerged from a good grassroots system. It is here that Tendulkar must stress on and ensure his ideas are implemented, because most of India’s future champions will emerge, not from the highrises of the metros, but from the interiors. And apart from talent spotting in the right areas, there must be a credible selection process.

Tendulkar must make a difference to India’s sporting destiny even if it means getting his hands dirty, inducing unpopular but right choices and displeasing those who thrive on the chalta hai attitude. And yes, there are critics too who he would like to prove wrong!

(Courtesy: MiD DAY Correspondent)