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The people who died today taught us a very important lesson that its not only our job to remind our elected officials of their responsibilities but also see to it that, they actually do the work.

Name changes v.s. Foot Over Bridge construction

Unknowingly, Sachin Tendulkar, asked the most important question in Rajya Sabha under the circumstances - He raised a question in 2016 about the status of Foot Over Bridge (FoB) at the  Elphinstone railway station.

In response, the ministry stated that the work was sanctioned in 2016 and unfortunately, as we now know, nothing much happened. This is despite the umpteen number of tweets, letters and other forms of communication (pictures and tweets in the blog) , where the commuters had raised serious concerns about the imminent dangers.

On the other hand, the Maharashtra state assembly passed a resolution to change Elphinstone station to Prabhadevi in Dec 2016, which was approved by the center in April 2017. According to the news sources, the name change was to take effect in Sep 2017.

While the ministry was quick to announce the compensation for the kith and kin of the deceased and those seriously injured, it was anything but quick to begin the sanctioned work.

Below is a list of tweets sent to the authorites forewarning the imminent threat to their lives


I think Sachin Tendulkar's Bharat Ratna is a milestone in Indian history. A time when the Indian government has finally stopped its politics of denial and stood up for what it stands for. It is a feeling of great relief, verging on euphoria. A clear statement that the government respects most those who fleece the country and ignore its laws. This is a beginning, in spite of the national shame. A beginning of being truthful, if not acting in the best interest of the country.

This post is not about Sachin Tendulkar, the cricketer. It is about the Sachin Tendulkar who casually took the country for granted. Over and over. It was probably his only real qualification for Rajya Sabha.

A serial tax evader, Sachin Tendulkar got the Bharat Ratna this year.
A serial tax evader, Sachin Tendulkar got the Bharat Ratna this year.

The Bharat Ratna is a farce. A farce perpetuated at the cost of the dignity of this country. A clear statement that Sachin Tendulkar may deliberately evade custom duty on a gift Ferrari that he later sells for profit. Sachin Tendulkar may register his car in Navi Mumbai where he doesn't live to save the higher tax of Mumbai - a measly 4.5 lakh more on a BMW M5 mega luxury car. Sachin Tendulkar may disown that profession he is getting the Bharat Ratna for, by calling the endorsements because of it "acting" to avoid paying taxes. And Sachin Tendulkar will get the highest honor in the country for becoming famous for a career that paid him well, and rewarded him aplenty in any case.

This has to be worth some mega recognition in a country where the finance minister expresses regret in a budget speech that the country has only 42,800 people with taable income more than a crore. Bharat Ratna for sure. Never mind the cricket, it should be for creative accounting.

Sachin Tendulkar may casually see himself over legal procedures like obtaining an occupation certificate for your home before doing a puja in it and prevent queries under the RTI about it. Or inaugurate an elite Mumbai Cricket Association club named after him, built on leased land beyond permissible limits, ignoring plea after plea by activists to refuse, because it was built on land that should have been a playground for local children. Or perhaps local kids need a bar, restaurant and card rooms? At least the lack of occupation certificate was consistent. Probably embarrassing to look like he had to wait for it like common people.

The highest honor of the country conferred on someone who repeatedly violated it for grandeur or profit. And this is after decades of completely legal opportunity to amass money, honor and mega lucrative advertizing contracts by playing in India's name. Some days it seems there is no end to the humiliation this Bharat mata must endure at the hand of her rogue children.

Sachin Tendulkar is perhaps representative of the ordinary entitled elite who see having plenty as the reason to feel entitled to even more. The rogue children are those who add insult to injury by conferring the nation's highest honor with such little regard for the nation's honor.


Yesterday, there was a bizarre news. It hit in two parts. One news headline was Sachin Tendulkar going to meet Sonia Gandhi. The other was the President nominating him to the Rajya Sabha.

The gaga media immediately mentioned him as the first sports person to be nominated to the Parliament. Well, there is a reason for that. No one had noticed that there was an area of the  constitution left unsullied until now. This has now been taken care of. As Rohit Bansal quotes the Election Commission of India, in his article on Governance Now:

"Article 80 (3) of the constitution of India provides that the members to be nominated by the president to Rajya Sabha should have special knowledge or practical experience in matters like literature, science, art and social service."

But that is just one part of it. I suppose, like Sachin called himself an actor for tax purposes, he could call himself one for Parliament purposes as well. The real questions are, who is Sachin Tendulkar as a whole person beyond the sportsman, what is his utility to the Parliament, and what does it mean for the country.

Sachin Tendulkar is a cricketer. He is the world's best batsman. He has a clean image in cricket so far beyond a 2001 accusation of ball tampering, which is rendered irrelevant at this point through sheer performance. So far, so good. His image as a citizen took a solid trouncing when he claimed duty exemptions for the Ferrari he received as a gift. It is true that the customs duty was 120% which kind of defeats the idea of a gift, but the whole point is that this is what it is for all Indians. Please note that he also sold it.

Further shameful evasion was on display when he used his celebrity endorsements in ads to call himself an actor and pay less tax, under section 80 RR of I-T Act. Then, he violated the MOFA (Maharashtra Ownership Flat Act) when he performed the "grihapravesh" of his home without an Occupation Certificate from the builder. Considering that we do have MPs with far worse cases filed against them, this is not exactly earth shattering. However as a public personality, it is a visible disregard for the laws of the land and the spirit guiding them.

What would Sachin Tendulkar contribute to the Parliament is an important question with no real answer. He has shown no particular interest in the well being of the country beyond the occasional messages for vaccinations or autism awareness tweet - which pretty much everyone does. He hasn't shown any particular opinion on politics or development in the country. He hasn't had any particular affiliations in politics either.

However, the idea of the nominated posts is presumably so that non political influences of excellence in areas needing development in the country are available in the governance of the country. Sachin's career as a cricketer is still on. When is he going to attend the Parliament? Even if he did, cricket has to be among the most well spread influences in the country already - in fact, to the point of crowding out other sports, including the National sport hockey - not something that particularly needs further reinforcement in government policies as such.

With this information in mind, it becomes difficult to ignore the more cynical view of his neutrality and lack of outspokenness as well as his tremendous crowd pulling capacity being the real assets in this nomination. That this nomination has been suggested by a party floundering in both politics and credibility makes this look like a "match fixing" move on the National level, rather than any particular contribution to the country.

What do the people get? Nothing in particular. Sachin is not a National hero for anything related to politics, and unless he does an Imran Khan, the nomination is unlikely to damage his fan base across political parties. On the other hand, his popularity is going to make opposing anything he supports difficult for reasons that will have nothing to do with good or bad decisions and everything to do with popular hero having a mass following - the question really is if he manages to retain autonomous opinions, or if he becomes part of endorsing political stands - a reasonable apprehension seeing as who suggested his nomination. Looking at where we are in our journey toward evolving as a democracy, we have had a year of turbulence related with corruption, disillusioned with people in power writing their own rules, and dazzled by the aura of a National hero, we are still supporting the same traits to power. Still turning a blind eye and excusing them selectively in the name of popularity. After all, isn't popularity how the corrupt politicians got elected too?

Perhaps this move of the politicians is brilliant only because it subtly psychological-pushes citizens back in the direction of a status quo they briefly tried to fight, where you get some "good qualities" pointed out and the erosion of National interest is the "acceptable price". If we swallow this, then the next pill will be slightly bigger, and slightly bigger till we are back to swallowing the entire Parliament again.

On a personal note, he should be made Prime Minister, because he speaks about as much as our current one. He should be made president because he followed the great con man promoter of blind faith - Sai Baba like our previous president, and thinks nothing of bending rules for personal profit at the expense of the country like our current one.