Tendulkar seeks to integrate sports, studies

New Delhi: Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar is taking guard to bat for an all-new cause.

The preparation seems to be impeccable - just as you had seen him at Wankhede, the WACA in Perth, Trent Bridge or the Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain - and could see him playing a larger political role in the coming days.

Four months into his innings as a Rajya Sabha Member, he appears to have got a measure of the political pitch and is clearly keen to make his time out in the middle count. The result is a letter to Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal on the issue of integrating sports with education.

Tendulkar has sent a presentation to Sibal on his vision of how sports can get its due in the country's education system. Writing in his capacity as an Elder, he says he wants to meet Sibal and is keen to further the cause of sports.

Sibal told Mail Today, "Yes, I have received a letter from Sachin. I have written back to him asking him to come to the HRD ministry to make a presentation on the subject."

Sources close to the minister said that while the minister is personally inclined to incorporate Tendulkar's suggestions in the curriculum, such matters are decided by the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) which will work out the modalities for the same.

Political duties

Tendulkar's initiative in reaching out to Sibal - his first steps in trying to address a larger audience as a politician with the prospect of a role in government - comes at a time when his comment on reassessing his cricketing future in November has fuelled speculation on his retirement from cricket.

"When I feel that I am not delivering what is needed, and then I will re-look at the scheme of things. I am already 39 and no one expects me to go on playing forever," he said in an interview to a private TV channel on October 5.

Sachin's letter to Sibal could not have come at a better time for his efforts to seek a formal role for sports in education. The HRD ministry has of late been focusing on giving education a holistic outlook, which includes according importance to sports and co- curricular activities in schools and higher education.

For instance, in the case of Unmukt Chand, the under-19 cricketer who was not allowed to appear for his college examination because of low attendance, Sibal had intervened to get him an exemption.

Recently, the minister approved UGC guidelines to provide free education to undergraduate and postgraduate students who win laurels for the country at the Olympics or world championships.

According to the sporting fraternity, Tendulkar's efforts to highlight sports in curriculum will make a quicker and bigger impact. "It's a great initiative from Sachin Tendulkar," said former cricketer Ravi Shastri.

"Yes, sports should be included in the curriculum.It's a great gesture from Sachin and his voice can make a great impact. Sport is important not only for winning medals but for the general health of the nation," said badminton player P. Gopichand.

Olympic medal winner and boxer Mary Kom hopes that this will benefit all sporting disciplines and not just cricket.

"I would want that all sport be given equal importance and not just cricket. Because, in that case, youngsters will choose only that sport," Kom said.


New innings

The veteran cricketer was sworn in as a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha on June 4 this year. There were mixed reactions to this. It was then that Tendulkar had first said that he would like to be remembered as someone who contributed to all sports.

"With the nomination as Rajya Sabha member, I think I am in a better position not only to help cricket but also other sports in the country which is really important and means a lot to me. And I will try my best to help other sports," he had told reporters right after his swearing-in.

Meanwhile, an HRD ministry official said that the ministry had already taken steps towards integrating sports with education.

"The minister would like to meet him ( Tendulkar) to get a better understanding of his ideas and vision," a ministry official said.

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