Sachin Tendulkar’s Order of Australia: a brilliant piece of soft diplomacy!

English: Sachin Tendulkar at Adelaide Oval

English: Sachin Tendulkar at Adelaide Oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am happy to know that Australian PM, Julia Gillard, has announced an AM [Member of the Order of Australia] for Sachin Tendulkar, the only Cricketer who has scored 100+ centuries.

I also know that Indians in India and Australia are happy with this award. There should be no surprises there!

Sachin deserves it for the services to International Cricket, although there have been some comments in Australia against this award. Rob Oakeshott MP made his views known yesterday. He was in favour of Order of Australia reserved only for Australians and expressed that these awards should not be used for soft diplomacy.

Brian Lara, West Indian Cricketer received an Order of Australia in 2009 and Clive Lloyd received it earlier. Not only this, Indian Attorney General, Soli Sorabji, too received it in 2006. Many more international people have received such awards in the past. The sole criteria has been that they have helped relations between their countries and Australia.

 

Order of Australia: They are the top awards in Australia.

  • Knight or Dame of the Order of Australia (AK or AD – Civil division only – Closed to new appointments in 1986);
  • Companion of the Order of Australia (AC);
  • Officer of the Order of Australia (AO);
  • Member of the Order of Australia (AM); and
  • Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

Sachin has been given an AM.

In case of Sachin, critics in Australia have mentioned that he has not done any thing of substance for Australia India relations and his role in “Monkeygate” scandal in 2008 was not that great. Initially, Sachin said that he did not hear what Harbhajan Singh said to Andrew Symonds but later on he said that Harbhajan had used some other word in Hindi, instead of dreaded/racist “Monkey” word for Symonds.

It is hard to know what happened but smart thing will be to put that saga behind us and move on.

I don’t think Sachin spoke one or another way either when Indian students’ issue was a hot item in 2009.

Having said that, Sachin is a gentleman and a great cricketer. His achievements in cricketing field  are unmatched. Cricket fans love him all over the world including Australia.

The most important outcome from this award will be the image make over Australia will get in Indian minds, after it was distorted in 2009 due to saturation coverage of attacks on students. Even though most of the coverage, especially the racism bit, was exaggerated and hyped up, it did nevertheless cause a serious harm to Australia’s image in India and damaged Australian education business from India and other countries.

Order of Australia to Sachin is likely to reverse the “Feel bad” for Australia in India.

This, I believe, is a brilliant piece of diplomacy by Australian PM, Julia Gillard.

This may also be smart politics domestically too in regards to Indian Australians, knowing the numerical strength of the community in Australia. There are approx 400,000 Indian Australians [approx 2% of total population] with  some constituencies having more than 10% voters from our community.

While there would be some who will be swayed for supporting ALP because of this, I doubt it will be a significant factor because most of us, just like general population, decide who to vote for, based on policies and agenda of the political parties.

Coming to the real issues, I am hoping that PM Gillard and Indian leadership will deal with the real issues of Trade, Investment, International Education, security in the region and Uranium sale in a pragmatic fashion and have a win win outcome for both countries.

Yadu Singh/Sydney/17th October,2012

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