BAT­TING FOR CHANGE

WIN­NER: Sachin Ten­dulkar WHY IT WON: For us­ing his pop­u­lar­ity and fame to en­sure In­dia achieves its goal of a Swachh Bharat

India Today - - SAFAIGIRI AWARDS - —Kaushik Deka

TTO BE ABLE TO PLAY, TO DREAM, to be healthy, to drink clean wa­ter, to be well enough to go to school and to have a clean place to live—ev­ery child should have these things by right, not by luck. Achiev­ing the goal of the Swachh Bharat Mis­sion will take us closer to a world where boys and girls who have these things are not con­sid­ered for­tu­nate chil­dren any more, but just chil­dren,” wrote liv­ing cricket le­gend Sachin Ten­dulkar in a col­umn in April 2018.

In his play­ing days, the mas­ter blaster was rarely heard on pub­lic plat­forms. He let his cricket bat do all the talk­ing. Even in his re­tire­ment, Ten­dulkar is much the same— let­ting his ac­tions speak louder than words. The bat, though, has been re­placed by a broom. Though he was nom­i­nated by Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi as one of In­dia's ‘swach­hata am­bas­sadors’ in 2014, Ten­dulkar has been pro­mot­ing clean­li­ness drives in In­dia for al­most 10 years. On Septem­ber 18, 2011, dur­ing a 12-hour-long ‘Sup­port My School telethon’, he helped raise Rs 7 crore—Rs 2 crore more than the tar­get set—for cre­ation of ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties in 140 gov­ern­ment schools across In­dia, par­tic­u­larly toi­lets for girl stu­dents. Af­ter ac­cept­ing his nom­i­na­tion by Modi, Ten­dulkar’s first cam­paign was clean­ing up a lo­cal­ity near his home in Mum­bai.

The same year, Ten­dulkar, a Ra­jya Sabha mem­ber from 2012 to 2018, adopted the Put­tam­raju Kan­driga vil­lage in Andhra Pradesh un­der the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yo­jana to pro­vide its vil­lagers ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties like san­i­ta­tion, health and hy­giene. In 2016, the vil­lage was de­clared open defe­ca­tion-free. In 2017, he adopted an­other vil­lage, Donja in Os­man­abad, which had been fac­ing a drought for the past few years, and cre­ated in­fra­struc­ture in the re­gion for ac­cess to san­i­ta­tion and potable wa­ter.

The same year, Ten­dulkar launched ‘Mis­sion-24’, aimed at im­prov­ing the qual­ity of life in Mum­bai’s M East ward, known to have one of the high­est slum pop­u­la­tions in the city and ranked the low­est in hu­man de­vel­op­ment among the city’s 24 wards in the Mum­bai Hu­man De­vel­op­ment Re­port 2009. The project, taken up by two NGOs— Ap­nalaya and Mum­bai First—along with the Bri­han­mum­bai Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion, aims to im­prove ba­sic ameni­ties like hospi­tals, schools, wa­ter and drainage sys­tems.

What sets Ten­dulkar apart from other am­bas­sadors is his uni­ver­sal ap­peal across age, gen­der and class. Revered as the God of Cricket, the Bharat Ratna awardee is also one of those celebri­ties whose pub­lic be­hav­iour has re­mained im­pec­ca­ble over the years. With around 30 mil­lion fol­low­ers on Twit­ter and Face­book, Ten­dulkar also wields tremen­dous in­flu­ence on so­cial me­dia. ■

SATISH BATE/GETTY IM­AGES

STRAIGHT DRIVE Sachin Ten­dulkar has been pro­mot­ing clean­li­ness drives for over 10 years

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