According to the recent exposes in the Pandora Papers, Sachin Tendulkar has stashed away some of his own savings in tax havens abroad, as the Pandora Papers.
There may not be a contradiction in Tendulkar’s advice to his fans of investing in mutual funds and his actions regarding his own money. He perhaps invests in mutual funds, too. But why does he not publicly advise the commoners to stash away some of their funds in tax havens outside the country? Well, for one thing, most of the public don’t have that sort of money. It is not supposed to be a morally exemplary action to not invest your money in your motherland but in tax havens outside the country. Why would a Bharat Ratna awardee do that?
Ten years ago, during the 2011 World Cup, which India eventually won, there was an article published that examined the question: should sportspersons, and specifically Sachin Tendulkar, be given the Bharat Ratna? At that time, the guidelines stated that the country’s highest award was to be given “for exceptional service towards advancement of Art, Literature and Science, and in recognition of Public Service of the highest order”. Tendulkar was not eligible, for he had no record of public service of any order, and there was no mention of sport in the criteria. However in December 2011, the criteria were changed and any “performance of highest order in any field of human endeavour” was made eligible for this honour.
Two years after that, the government announced his name for the Bharat Ratna. In retrospect, that was a bad idea, especially as Tendulkar was only 40 at that time. He still had, presumably, a full lifetime to live outside the sporting arena. Unfortunately, Tendulkar has indeed made errors of judgment since then and has devalued the Bharat Ratna.
In the nearly eight years since he was awarded the Bharat Ratna, Tendulkar is yet to do or say anything significant. His term as a Rajya Sabha member was marked by absence and inactivity.
There is a reason the Bharat Ratna had been given to people in old age, or posthumously, when their life’s work was nearly or completely finished, and their virtues and vices weighed. Evidently, the Manmohan Singh-led government had the 2014 elections in mind when it changed the awards criteria and gave Tendulkar the Bharat Ratna.