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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

OBE for Sachin, announces Aussie PM Julia Gilard - and the voice of protest

Sachin, Sachin – the chant is ranting……. Sachin is in news, nay not for turning up for Mumbai Indians in Champions League but because of the announcement of  Australian PM Julia Gillard  that  Sachin Tendulkar is to be conferred the membership of order of Australia. “Cricket is of course a great bond between Australia and India. We are both cricket-mad nations. I am very pleased that we are going to confer on Sachin Tendulkar, the membership of the order of Australia (AM),” Gillard, who is on a visit to India, told reporters.    Do you know who the first Indian was ? 

The greatest batsman with 100 tons; 199 wickets played a solitary T20 for the Nation and if you are to add that he has taken 200 wickets and scored phenomenal 33969 international runs.  The little master Sachin  becomes only the second Indian to receive the honour,  but down under, there is some uproar over the decision.  Some of f the criticism comes from the fact that the master blaster was at the centre of the monkeygate scandal involving the countries’ cricket teams. Questions are also being raised as to why he is eligible for the award and what his contributions to Australia are. The star batsman was a key witness in the Harbhajan Singh-Andrew Symonds racism controversy in 2008. Australian media had slammed Tendulkar earlier this year too when India was touring the country.

The honour is “rarely” awarded to non-Australians – still Tendulkar is not the first cricketer to be made an Order of Australia AM.  “This is a very special honour very rarely awarded to someone who is not an Australian citizen or an Australian national. The award will be conferred on him by cabinet minister Simon Crean when he visits India. The honour is very special and Sachin is a very special cricketer,” she added.

Tendulkar is not the first cricketer to be made an Order of Australia AM. In 2009, West Indies legend Brian Lara was also made an honorary member. Another West Indies legend, Clive Lloyd, is an Honorary Officer in the Order of Australia, having been conferred the award way back in 1985.  Brian Lara, was given the award in 2009 "for service to Australia-Caribbean relations by promoting goodwill, friendship and sportsmanship through the sport of cricket".  Clive Lloyd was conferred honorary Officer of the Order or Australia way back in 1985.  Another West Indian, Sir Garfield Sobers, was also made a member of the Order of Australia in 2003, "for service to cricket as a player and supporter of young players, particularly from disadvantaged areas and groups, and to the community through support for charitable organisations". However, Sobers holds Australian citizenship through marriage, so his award was not considered "honorary".

Approximately 20 Australian cricketers have been given Order of Australia honours, including Sir Donald Bradman, Allan Border, Steve Waugh, Mark Waugh, Mark Taylor, Adam Gilchrist, Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden, Dennis Lillee, Max Walker, Bob Simpson, Keith Miller, Justin Langer, Bill Lawry, Ricky Ponting, Peter Burge, Ron Archer, Alan Davidson, Dean Jones and Belinda Clark.

The Order of Australia is an order of chivalry established on 14 February 1975 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, to recognise Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or for meritorious service. Before the establishment of the order, Australian citizens received British honours.  Of the many awards, Prime Minister Bob Hawke abolished the Knight and Dame categories in 1983. On 3 March 1986, the Queen co-signed letters patent revoking the categories of Knight and Dame. Existing Knights and Dames were not affected by this change.  The Order of Australia is modelled closely upon the Order of Canada. However, when compared with the Order of Canada, the Order of Australia has been awarded rather more liberally, especially in regard to honorary awards to foreigners.

Federal independent MP Rob Oakeshott has proposed setting up a separate award for non-Australians the nation wants to honour, following the announcement of a gong for cricketing great Sachin Tendulkar. It's an honour rarely bestowed on non-Australians, but it happens often enough that Mr Oakeshott is questioning whether it puts the integrity of the honours list at stake.  "I love Sachin, I love cricket, but I just have a problem with soft diplomacy," he is quoted as telling ABC Radio.  Tendulkar was an "obvious diplomatic touch point", Mr Oakeshott said, but he suggested setting up an inter-nation gong, such as an "Australia-India award".

In a double talk, however, the same  MP admitted he had no concerns with other countries awarding Australians similar honours to that of Tendulkar.

The 39-year-old Tendulkar,  is currently in South Africa playing in the Champions League Twenty20,  and will become only the second Indian.  The first surprisingly was not a cricketer but  former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee. Sorabjee was made an Honorary Member of the Order of Australia (AM) “for service to Australia-India bilateral legal relations” in 2006.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
16th Oct 2012.


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