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Truly incomparable

Thank You, Sachin Sir. Genuine gratitude must underpin all the sparkling tributes to one of the most accomplished sportsmen ever. Gratitude not merely for the tremendous performances that re-wrote the record book these past 24 years, but equally for the ethereal gold-standard that Tendulkar set for those occupying prime public space. Every human being has flaws, yet never in his distinguished innings did this man ever find himself in strife.
On the contrary, he ever shone like a beacon; it would be no exaggeration to declare that if Indian cricket has managed to overcome several negatives it was because Sachin provided hope, reassurance. It was inevitable that he would quit someday, many anticipated that the day was not far away after the international schedule was re-worked so that he would play his 200th Test match at home, yet his formal announcement did raise the emotions. Even those who had felt he ought to have retired when on a “high” after the World Cup, and pointed to indifferent form in recent matches, will concede that his impending departure will leave a sentimental void. While he has said he cannot contemplate his life without cricket, he would be the first to refute any suggestions that Indian cricket will collapse with his departure. Arrogance and ego were never included in his bag.
Authority, an abundance of it, was what he took to every corner of the cricketing world. An authority re-confirmed time and again: sure there were a few lows but the several highs made light of them. Other sections of the media will focus on the statistics of an outstanding career, but those figures cannot convey the flavour that Tendulkar brought to the game: indeed words hardly suffice to provide that “taste”. When drafted into the national squad at the age of 16 he exuded an impish quality ~ a quality that has not abandoned him hundreds of matches and thousands of runs later. He has never done anything but seek to keep the scoreboard rolling, but has been mature enough to let the match-situation  determine the scoring rate. He pioneered the use of a heavy bat, yet it was no bludgeon, he used it like a scalpel with surgical skill to dissect, decimate the bowling. When given the ball he sent it down using endless “upper storey”, and his fielding was exemplary.
Sachin has two more Tests to play ~ hopefully at his own pace. He must not be pressured into a glory-hunt or a last hurrah. He has done enough to etch an indelible place in the heart and memory. And when he turns up at a cricketing venue in future ~ be it Shivaji Park or Lord&’s ~ his very presence will prove elevating.

The Bodo tangle

It would be an understatement to suggest that Assam&’s Bodo region is restive once again because it has always been so ever since the 1980s when the movement for statehood started. The February 1993 Bodo Accord saw the formation of an autonomous council but brought no peace and it floundered within a few years because of infighting among leaders. In February 2003 militant Bodo Liberation Tiger leader Hagrama Mohilary wrested the initiative and signed a peace accord with the NDA government. This gave the Bodos territorial council status under the Sixth Schedule, but no peace yet. Even at that moment Mohilary had made it clear that his ultimate objective was a separate state, and he sticks to it.
 Mohilary&’s Bodo People&’s Front supports Tarun Gogoi&’s Congress government and has three members in it. Although, Gogoi can run his ministry with his own pack, the understanding with Mohilary before the 2011 assembly was that in the event of the Congress not securing the magic figure they would join hands. Mohilary is a master of his own and is said to be already on his high horse and shows signs of increasing prosperity. Within a year of assuming charge of the BTC, he allegedly spent Rs 5 crore at the time of his marriage attended by celebrities. A latest report says his five-star hotel at Kokrajhar is under construction, he owns several shopping centres and has constructed a private hospital and allegedly invested on such projects outside Bodoland as well. Dispur has raised no questions and possibly never will.
Following the revival of the demand for a separate state and large-scale violence that followed in the aftermath of the decision on Telangana, New Delhi is now taking to All Bodo Students’ Union leaders who want to keep their movement peaceful. The second round of talks is expected this month. It must be remembered that Absu and now-defunct Bodo People&’s Action Committee leaders always followed the policy of forbearance and reposed faith in negotiations. Their promises to keep the agitation non-violent were often broken by the Bodo Security Force (now known as the National Democratic Front of Boroland and which has three factions.) They even suspended their agitation for seven years to find a peaceful solution.
Absu did align with Mohilary for the 2005 BTC election but parted company soon enough. The anti-talk NDFB leader Ranjan Daimary (on bail) wants a sovereign state. The three factions cannot be ignored, neither can the non-Bodos for the simple reason that the locals do not constitute a majority in their own homeland. The only way out for Bodos at bay now is to form a united front. And leaders are expected to promote the welfare of the people, and not their own!