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Cricket Icon Sachin Tendulkar Awarded India's Highest Civilian Award

Iconic Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. Flickr image by junaidrao, CC By-NC-ND 2.0

A billion hearts were choked with emotions today, November 16, 2013, as Indian cricketing icon Sachin Tendulkar retired from the game after a legendary career that spanned 24 years. Acknowledging Sachin's contribution, the President of India, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, has awarded him the prestigious Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award.

In India, the Bharat Ratna (Jewel of India) is awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour. Any person, without distinction of race, occupation, position or gender is eligible for this award. The 40 year old Sachin Tendulkar  will be the first sportsperson and the youngest person to receive this honour.

Social media was abuzz with reactions and congratulatory comments.

In a discussion on Quora, Bala Senthil Kumar expressed firm opinion as to why Sachin deserved the Bharat Ratna. According to him,

Bharat Ratna is literally translated as ‘Jewel of India'.
Is Sachin a ‘Jewel of India'?
Please,without a doubt,the answer is an overwhelming ‘YES'!
I challenge anyone to come forward and refute this.

On another similar discussion thread in Quora, Vaibhab Sharma, a cricket lover and die-hard fan of Sachin Tendulkar, pointed out his reasons for Sachin deserving the prestigious award. He commented:

There is no doubt about the fact that Sachin has achieved the performance of highest order in cricket. You can confirm it from his peers, his opponents, retired legendary cricketers, ICC, Wisden who rated him as the second best of all time behind Bradman, his statistics which feature on top of almost every batting list compiled and many more endless sources. [...]

Sachin's batting was the balm to Indian people's troubles. Caste, creed, race and sex do not matter when Sachin comes out to bat. Everybody loves him which was pretty evident in his farewell today when every person I know who follows cricket was crying. Nobody told them to but they automatically did. Such is the impact of this great man.

As the announcement of the award filtered in, Twitter too was abuzz with congratulatory comments and reactions.

Indian entrepreneur Kiram Mazumdar Shaw (@kiranshaw) tweeted:

Anurag Thakur (@ianuragthakur), Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) and Joint Secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), tweeted:

Actor and social activist Rahul Bose (@RahulBose1) tweeted:

Varanasi Ramprasad (@smarttrainers), a management consultant, tweeted:

Vaneet (@Vabo18), a cricket fan, was ecstatic. He tweeted:

While the mood of the nation was largely congratulatory, there were also a few voices of dissent, which either felt that there were other equally deserving candidates for the award or felt that the award should be given to non-sportspersons, to those who were perhaps older and had spent a lifetime working for a larger national cause.For example, independent journalist Shivam Vij (@DilliDurAst) felt that this was a populist gesture by the government. He tweeted:

However,on this day, these voices found themselves in the minority, drowned in the adulation of a doting billion.

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