It is important to acknowledge our role in contributing towards the nation’s strides towards prosperity. Being a responsible citizen by voting regularly in elections can be one of the primary steps.

Since independence, India has seen boundless growth. But for a country shaped by generational diversities, it is also incumbent upon us, as citizens, to recognise the weight of responsibility that accompanies Our freedom.

Unity in Diversity — is a phrase which captures the essence of India, the world’s largest democracy. We have had our fair share of historical struggles to reach this point today, when we are leading globally across various sectors.

As we observe the 76th Independence Day, it is important for us to remember that the freedom earned by our predecessors brings with ita sense of responsibility to contribute to the nation’s growth.

As a society, we convey mutual respect for each other irrespective of our beliefs and ideologies. In anything we do, we exhibit a sense of brotherhood and spirit of harmony.

As in cricket, it is not individuals with different faiths and beliefs Playing, it is always 11 Indian players on the field, playing for one nation. It is also Indians, and not Hindus, Sikhs, Christians or Muslims, cheering for India. This applies to any field or sector that contributes to nation building.

During my playing days, I was made aware of this sense of responsibility to be above all personal achievements. Even if 1 had the right to play my way, it was never the just thing to go for boundaries on every ball; I had to play dots or rotate strike, bowl or field in any
position, as the team and situation demanded. This sense of responsibility for the greater good of the team was inculcated in every player.
This holds true for anything we do as citizens of the country, while staying true to upholding the dignity of all.

Our idea of freedom transcends race, religion, gender or any other demographic multiplicities. The nation has taken leaps in gender sensitivity and inclusivity. We now have Droupadi Murmu as the first tribal woman President of India. We have women sportspersons coming from the remotest corners of the country and excelling at the global stage. In cricket, we have recently seen the introduction of pay parity for all and various other measures to make the game more inclusive, by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCD).

These kinds of transformations encourage generations to come forward and contribute responsibly to the nation’s growth. Events such as the recent launch of the Chandrayaan-3 mark paradigm shifts in the nation’s progress.

Scientists such as Ritu Karidhal Srivastava stand as a beacon of inspiration for her pivotal role in the lunar mission. It not only propels the nation’s scientific progress, but also makes us aware as citizens of the endless possibilities we have as a nation.

It is, however, also important to acknowledge our role in contributing towards the nation’s strides towards prosperity. Being a responsible citizen by voting regularly in elections can be one of the primary steps we can take to ensure seamless functioning of the democratic processes.

Through voting, we get to be discerning citizens by casting our ballots not just for ourselves but for the betterment of society as a whole.

There can be various other ways through which we can make a collective impact. There can be various other ways through which we can make a collective impact.

Little things such as having the utmost respect for all, following traffic rules, protecting our natural environment, keeping our surroundings clean, being an alert consumer, taking care of the elderly and the needy, building a cohesive environment for all, and so on, can help us create a better place for ourselves.

These smaller yet impactful practices can very well be an ode to our reclaimed freedom.

For a country shaped by generational diversities, it is incumbent upon us, as citizens of India, to recognise the weight of responsibility that accompanies our freedom.

A comprehensive awareness of the roles and responsibilities can be crucial as we envisage the nation’s progression from the 77th till the 100th year of Independence, and beyond.

Cricket legend and Bharat Ratna Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar on Wednesday began a new innings – as the ‘National Icon’ for voter awareness and education for the Election Commission of India (ECI).

A MoU was signed with the legend for a period of three years at an event organised at Akashvani Rang Bhavan, New Delhi in the presence of Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioners Anup Chandra Pandey and Arun Goel.

Sachin Tendulkar and elections:
This collaboration marks a significant step towards leveraging Tendulkar’s unparalleled impact with the youth demographics for increasing voters’ participation in the forthcoming elections, especially in General Elections 2024. The ECI through this partnership aims to bridge the gap between citizens, especially youth and urban populations and the electoral process thereby, trying to address the challenges of urban and youth apathy.

What does Sachin say?
Sachin, in his role as the National Icon for the ECI, expressed enthusiasm and commitment to the cause, and said that for a vibrant democracy like India, the youth play a key role in nation building. ”The hearts that beat for ‘Team India’ during sports matches, with the unified cheer – ‘India, India!’ shall also beat the same way to take our precious democracy forward. One simple yet most powerful way to do that is to cast our votes regularly,” he said.

He said: ”From thronging stadiums to thronging polling booths, from taking time out to stand by the national team to taking time out to cast our votes, we shall keep up the spirit and enthusiasm. When youth from the nooks and corners of the country participate in large numbers in electoral democracy, we shall see a prosperous future for our country.”

Speaking on the occasion, CEC Rajiv Kumar said that Sachin, an icon revered not only in India but globally, has a legacy that extends far beyond his cricketing prowess. He said Sachin’s illustrious career is a testament to his commitment to excellence, teamwork, and the relentless pursuit of success. His influence transcends sports, making him an ideal choice to bat for ECI and drive up voter turn-outs.

The collaboration will encompass a range of activities, including Tendulkar promoting voter awareness in various TV talk shows/ programs and digital campaigns etc, all aimed at raising awareness about the importance of voting and the role it plays in shaping the nation’s destiny.

The MoU was signed by Sachin Tendulkar at a function in the presence of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis and Minister for Medical Education Girish Mahajan.

The Maharashtra government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Sachin Tendulkar appointing the former cricketer as the ‘Smile Ambassador’ for its oral hygiene campaign. The agreement is valid for five years. The campaign is a part of the Indian Dental Association’s push for oral health.

The MoU was signed at a function in the presence of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis and Minister for Medical Education Girish Mahajan.

Deputy CM: Sachin never endorses tobacco products

“While many celebrities are endorsing cancer-causing tobacco products, Sachin never does that. We are thankful to him for being the brand ambassador for our Swachh Mukh Abhiyan (oral hygiene campaign). Our aim is to send the message of oral hygiene to all the people of Maharashtra,” Fadnavis said.

Tendulkar says important to maintain good health

Tendulkar stressed the importance of maintaining good health. “When I was young I used to play many sports. I realised how a disciplined life is crucial to maintaining good health,” he said.

The Bharat Ratna awardee said he was proud to be part of the campaign and thanked the government for associating him with the drive. “Today is a special day for me… I thought that this initiative is so good that I need to be a part of it and contribute to it,” he added.

COLOMBO: Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar pitched for a nutrient-rich diet and quality education for children during his school visits in Sri Lanka where he also teamed up with people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the country’s worst economic crisis.

Addressing an event, the iconic cricketer, in his role as UNICEF‘s Goodwill Ambassador, said, “Children are the future; if we support them today, they will make us proud tomorrow.”

Tendulkar said he was sorry to know that many households in Sri Lanka can’t afford to give quality and the quantity of food required by children.

“Many children suffer from stunting,” he said at an event hosted by UNICEF.

Tendulkar, 50, was appointed UNICEF Ambassador for South Asia in 2013 to advocate good hygiene and sanitation across the region.

“When I played school matches, the tendency was if I was batting at lunchtime not to have anything to eat. I would have a couple of soft drinks and a bat,” he said.

Tendulkar said he had to prepare differently when the playing standards got better. “This preparation was something I unknowingly ignored,” he said.

The cricketer later learned that not having a proper lunch impacted his view. “I got out after lunch at an important match, and the first thing I wanted to do was to eat,” he said, calling it a big lesson in nutrition.

“Children require a nutrient-rich diet and quality education to reach their full potential. By investing in their education and nutrition, we are not only investing in their future but also every country’s future,” said Tendulkar.

Pointing out that measures have been taken in India to tackle child malnutrition, Tendulkar said, “Something unique has started in India, which is local therapeutic foods, ready-to-eat packages.”

Through his role as a UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador, Tendulkar has been committed to promoting child rights, protection, and development across the South Asian region.

“Children are the best teachers. They help us see (the) wisdom in the simplest of things. In this school situated in a serene Sri Lankan village, we observed compassion towards all beings,” Tendulkar posted on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

“All children take a few portions of food from their plates and keep it on a common plate – which is then served to birds. Such a beautiful thought on sharing, being grateful for our blessings and compassion. Something all of us can emulate,” he said.

On Monday, he visited the UNICEF programmes in the rural Sabaragamuwa province and met with children and parents impacted by the COVID-pandemic and the 2022 economic crisis.

Tendulkar also visited a preschool supported by UNICEF’s midday school meal programme and served children food.
“Every child should have the right to education. It is the foundation for every child,” Tendulkar stressed.

“When you spend time with children, you learn a lot of things”, Tendulkar said, recalling his days as a student and a cricketer. He also urged Sri Lankan children to play sports.

Tendulkar recalled warm memories associated with Sri Lanka during his earlier visits, both as a cricketer and as part of his engagements with UNICEF in 2015, a UNICEF press release said.

His last trip was in 2015 and was made to promote hand washing as a hygienic practice.

Tendulkar said he had been touring Sri Lanka since 1993 and had made many friends here, including Muttiah Muralitharan, the legendary Sri Lanka spinner.

Tendulkar, considered one of the greatest batsmen of all time in cricket, has been associated with UNICEF for over a decade for various causes.

In 2003, he was chosen to take the lead in the initiative to create awareness and promote polio prevention in India, according to UNICEF.

Later in 2008, he was roped in to create and promote hygiene and sanitation among communities and continues to do so over the years.

In 2019, he went on a three-day trip to Nepal to raise awareness for UNICEF Nepal’s ‘Bat for Brain Development’ campaign.

In his almost two-decade-long partnership with UNICEF, Tendulkar has been vital in furthering the campaigns, especially the ones aimed at providing a better future for underprivileged children.

“Together nations can do wonders, and that is the aim of my trip here. A brilliant learning experience for me, thank you so very much, UNICEF,” he said.

“It’s his breakfast time,” our guide whispered. On a fine morning in the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, our jeep came in proximity of a tiger, mere steps away, its gaze fixed upon us. It was a chilling yet exquisite moment we experienced amidst Tadoba’s wilderness.

Often seen as a symbol of strength and elegance, tigers have long captured our imagination. Be it for their predominant role in sustenance of the jungle or for their significance as our National Animal, tigers carry the essence of our wildlife heritage. However, as we all come across accounts of creatures that once thrived in numbers but have gone extinct now, conservationists and wildlife experts have a similar fateful concern for the regal predator, if not looked after well.

The awareness around tiger conservation dawned upon me in the later part of my playing days. I realized how our busy lifestyle keeps us away from the concerning issues pertaining to nature and its conservation. Although I got the opportunity to be associated with various causes while playing, I believe it is not until we observe the implications ourselves that we get the crux of it.

My tryst with tigers is mostly supplemented by my visits to the tiger sanctuaries including the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve and the Ranthambore National Park, among others. These National Parks, standing as bastions of tiger conservation in Maharashtra and Rajasthan, respectively, amplify the efforts taken by the communities co-existing in the periphery and the forest officials.

Forest reserves also boast of a distinct flora and fauna that keep the ecosystem thriving. One can see Arjuna trees thriving by the riverbeds, and teaks and mahuas beautifying the lanes of the jungle. On one of our visits, we were astonished to learn how tigers convey their strengths to other tigers by clawing on the pale-and-smooth-skinned ‘ghost trees’. This sense of cohabitation among the flora and fauna creates the core of the national parks and forest reserves. Communities navigate life around the peripheries of such diverse ecosystems. Their lives revolve around the livestock and the forest produce.

However, something that strikes me often is the way the children grow amidst the lap of nature and around the habitats of the tiger. This is true for all the communities and tribes living around national parks and forest reserves. They tend to cultivate a deep sense of respect and appreciation for wildlife from an early age. We were once welcomed heartily by an eager bunch of children when we stopped by their school in Tadoba. Their delight was unparalleled upon receiving new books and school kits. Their knowledge around tigers and other animals and birds, at such a tender age, was commendable. Groomed well, this younger generation holds the potential to be more considerate towards tiger conservation. Just one interaction with them is enough to make you realize their eagerness to learn and prosper.

Conservation is anyway not achievable in isolation; it requires unified efforts. Just like cricket, tiger conservation demands teamwork and collaboration. In recent years, we have witnessed dedicated efforts of forest officials, local communities, and various organizations striving to protect tigers and their habitats.

However, it is imperative that we must acknowledge the results brought in by the ambitious ‘Project Tiger’ that started in 1973. Traversing a long way to mark 50 years this year, this is one of those large-scale projects that have made India’s mark globally. The emerging numbers are encouraging for such a challenging project that builds on the principle to safeguard the regal creature. From a near extinct phase to 3000+ as per the latest census, the project paves way for a promising future for the tigers. Recent campaigns like “Saving Our Stripes” by The Times of India commemorating the ‘Project Tiger’ can also generate awareness among the masses. Nevertheless, for the tiger population to thrive and grow, we need more area under forest cover. This can be achieved through Community Nature Conservancies. These help farm lands to generate more revenue from tourism and improve the lives of otherwise impoverished farmers.

Tigers are keystone species, playing a crucial role in maintaining the balance of ecosystems. Their sustenance ensure the survival of the other species as well as the communities, whom we come across on each of our getaways or visits. We must support collective endeavours to bring back the tigers from ‘endangered’ to a ‘thriving’ status. A future where tigers thrive and lead the ecological balance is where our own sustenance will thrive.

As the country’s economy makes gradual recovery, 3.9 million people, including children, are unable to afford adequate food, and 4.8 million children are struggling to keep learning.

COLOMBO/ KATHMANDU, 8 August 2023: Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar visited Sri Lanka in his role as the UNICEF South Asia Regional Goodwill Ambassador. Sachin visited UNICEF programmes in the Sabaragamuwa Province and met with children and parents impacted by the COVID-pandemic and the 2022 economic crisis.

Tendulkar recalled warm memories associated with Sri Lanka during his earlier visits, both as a cricketer and as part of his engagements with UNICEF in 2015. He lauded the efforts of all government and non-government organisations in their efforts towards bringing a positive change despite challenging environments.

During the field mission, Sachin visited a pre-school, supported by UNICEF’s ongoing mid-day school meal programme, and helped serve nutrient-rich food to children. Since August 2022, UNICEF’s midday meal programme has been providing nutritious meals to 50,000 preschool children in nearly 1,400 schools across the country. The meal programme has also helped boost pre-school attendance.

“Children require a nutrient-rich diet and quality education to reach their full potential. By investing in their education and nutrition, we are not only investing in their future but also every country’s future,” said Sachin.

At another school Tendulkar visited, he observed teaching and learning activities for grade 3 children where many students shared their desire to stay in school and follow their dreams. Sachin then joined the senior school girls and boys on the pitch for a game of cricket.

“The children I spoke with, are showing great tenacity, and their hope for a better future remains strong. We need to continue supporting them so they keep achieving their goals,” added Sachin.

Tendulkar also visited families living in plantations, to understand their lives better. As part of the support for economic recovery, UNICEF provided cash transfers to more than 110,000 families with children up to two years of age to buy nutritious foods and other vital supplies needed for their children.

Tendulkar also took time to speak to a group of young people from Sri Lanka, in a close ‘Cricket Catch-Ups’ session during which he shared his experiences growing up, in overcoming obstacles, remaining resilient and focused in pursuing his goal. These young people are a part of the UNICEF-supported Children’s Club network of the Department of Probation and Child Care Services.

Sachin Tendulkar was appointed as the first UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia in 2013. Since then, he has been playing a pivotal role in improving the lives of children in South Asia.