Thursday, April 8, 2021

Tweeting it whose way?

North East Today February 2021 

The admiration for Sachin Tendulkar, who has millions of fans both in India and abroad, is not just about his stupendous achievements on the pitch but also for his commendable conduct off the pitch. Shouldering the hopes of more than a billion people for many years, the little master broke a plethora of cricketing records and etched his name amongst one of the greatest cricketers of all time. Never someone, who would easily be bowed down by pressures from his sporting opponents, Sachin maintained that resilience with his non-partisan stance on controversial issues- political and apolitical and remained non-aligned until that day- the 3rd of February 2021. He tweeted something that baffled thousands of his fans. Many were not only shocked but hurt. 

The farm bills since their introduction and subsequent passage in September 2020 have attracted a mixed response from various groups of people. While lakhs of farmers have been voicing their strong reservations on the bills and are staging a protest at the Border of the National capital for months now, the Government on the other hand is hell-bent on dashing ahead with the bills. As news of farmers having no option but to resort to destroying their crops as they were offered  only Rs. 1/- per kg. by corporates do the rounds, strengthening the demand for Minimum Support Price of their agricultural produce, the Government maintained its stance that fears on the discontinuation of MSP are baseless. The farmers though are wary of the absence of any mechanism for procurement of agricultural produce at MSP in the farm bills. 

The farm bills in themselves may contain several progressive clauses that could benefit the farmers but the evident lack of consultation with the farmers- the main stakeholders, has resulted in several unwarranted incidents. The issue reached a different new level when famous pop singer Rihanna tweeted on 2nd February 2021, ‘’Why aren’t we talking about this?! #FarmersProtest’’. All hell then broke loose. I am neither in support nor against the farm bills for I believe, the opinion that really matters should be those of the farmers. But that does not mean I am against those who shared their opinions. Many liked and retweeted the tweet of the pop singer. The same many trolled and rejected the tweet, insisting that the issue is the internal matter of India. What caught the attention of many was the series of tweets posted by Indian celebrities including present and retired cricketers rejecting Rihanna’s alleged interference in India's internal issues. The contents of the tweets were not just similar but identical in a few cases. Sachin Tendulkar, who had so far dodged many such attempts to fish out his views on controversial issues, tweeted one of those similar tweets countering Rihanna’s. 
“India’s sovereignty cannot be compromised. External forces can be spectators but not participants. Indians know India and should decide for India. Let's remain united as a nation,” tweeted Sachin on the 3rd of February 2020.

It was not the fact that SRT spoke against people voicing the concerns of farmers that was worrisome. What shocked many was Sachin’s unprecedented decision to guard himself with a helmet of allegedly coerced views when he was obviously not on the pitch and when the ball was not directed towards him at any angle. 
Should  Rihanna be blamed? Or the farm bills? Or the protesting farmers? are the silent questions that I'd asked myself even as I fought hard to evade the bitter truth to sink in- that It is not anybody's but Sachin's misgivings. 

Or is it the fault of his fans to expect too much from someone who is in every measurement, human too. And, humans make mistake. Everyone. But we are talking about Sachin, reminded my mind. Here is someone, who was considered God. As I struggle to make peace with my heart and my mind and ask myself if the fans should dictate what Sachin feels or vice versa, I cannot help but accept the responsibility the little master has now and how for all his fame and worth, he, unlike an ordinary person, does not have the leisure to take sides. Unfortunate most would be to think that his tweeted views on the matter are coerced.

Sachin might not be perfect. There were times he scored a duck and he would still be the hero. That was tenable because of his great achievements in the past and also the existence of a hope that he will be back with a bang. Can the present issue bear the same optimism among his fans is a question the answer to which only the master blaster has. One hopes he answers his critics with deeds and not tweets, as he always did

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