The Common Man Speaks

10Jul/142

Victim of Marriage in 21st century!

By: Keyur Seta

Traditionalists keep asserting that marriage is a ‘sacred bond’ and a huge decision so it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Although there is no denying this, ironically most of these traditionalists around me not only take marriage lightly but also make it a cruel joke with regards to the marriage of a girl by promoting different versions of patriarchy.

Right from selecting a groom till the last stages of her life, a woman is forced to bear a lot of evils in the name of ‘tradition’, ‘culture’ and ‘religious beliefs’. People might argue that such things don’t happen in the 21st century but that is far from the truth. I have been regularly witnessing such weird practices even in 2014 and that too in Mumbai, which is known as the most modern city of India.

I would like to explain myself using the following points:

  • Picture Source: Inonit.com

    Picture Source: Inonit.com

    Age Factor: Age should be taken into consideration while planning your academic life and career because one needs to enter into a profession at the right time in order to stop depending on your parents. But to force someone to marry just because of age is senseless and that too when she is just 22 or 23. It is absolutely fine if the girl is ready for it but if she wishes to build a career before tying the knot, it is against human rights to not allow her to do so. After all, marriage is not about age; it is about finding the right person.

  • Beauty Contest: A couple is said to be happily married if there is love and proper understanding between them. For this, it is necessary for the girl and the boy to spend time with each other in order to understand each other’s nature and psyche. But the first criterion a boy’s family’s considers is beauty by looking at the girl’s photograph. If she is good looking or ‘fair’, only then they select her to meet their son. Such a practice reinforces the terrible belief that looking good, beautiful or ‘fair’ is the most important thing for a girl. No wonder these appalling fairness creams and their advertisements are so hit in India!
  • Only Money Matters: I regularly witness or hear stories of parents pestering a girl to get married to a complete stranger just because he is rich. I have heard first-hand accounts of how parents start having a grudge against their daughter if she turns down the marriage proposal of a wealthy stranger due to logical reasons like thoughts not matching, not being understanding, not willing to give freedom, etc. Parents’ worry for their girl’s future is completely understandable, but forcing her to marry someone just because of his bank balance is more than silly. This will surely take care of her financial needs but not getting a loving, understand and caring husband will make her feel practically poor.

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  • Picture: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk (Click on the pic to enlarge)

    Picture: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk (Click on the pic to enlarge)

    Divisive Politics: We are told that marriages are made in heaven (whatever that means). But we are made to search our soul mate not just in our own religion but also our so-called caste and language. Now how can you assume that God or nature has selected someone for us from our own religion, caste and language? Do you really think God or nature believes in such man-made divisions?  So a girl opting for love marriage outside the so-called caste is grudged; if it is outside their religion, she is labeled disgraceful, even in 2014. Many a times, children agree to search in their own caste or community just to respect their parents’ sentiments. But how logical is respecting your parents’ sentiments when it helps in spreading something as evil as casteism? This respect has played a large role in spreading casteist feelings. Just look at the matrimonial column in newspapers. The same people who accuse politicians of playing caste politics are more than willing to do the same in matrimonial ads. At the end of the day, happiness of your child should always be above your divisive demand.

  • pati-parmeshwarInvisible Dowry: Dowry has been banned in India long ago but that is only on paper. Even today in a lot of cases the girl’s family is compelled to give a lot of items as shagun disguised as dowry and also bear the cost of the entire wedding. This gives a feeling that the boy is doing some ehsaan (favor) on the girl by marrying her. Isn’t he also in need of a wife as much as she is in need of a husband? One should not forget that it is she who is leaving her family to live with someone else’s family till the end of her life.
  • Husband Worship: Even today a wife is forced to consider her husband as bhagwan or God. This is justified by the ridiculous and horrible statement – Patni ki jagah pati ke charanon mein hoti hai. This is not only weird but also hilarious. Just imagine – a boy enters the world just like others. He lives like any other human being as he has the same capabilities that fellow humans have. So how is it that after marriage he suddenly becomes God? A lot of times, this ‘God’ is not even able to make a cup of tea for himself. Although this sounds funny, it is not because it promotes high level patriarchy.
  • sada-suhaganDouble Standards: An invisible version of patriarchy is promoted through Karva Chauth. No, I am not against the festival. I am just against the message it gives: the festival is celebrated to pray for husband’s long life. Why is it that only the husband deserves to live long? Why can’t the husband fast for his wife too so that there is equality?

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  • Curse in Blessing: People consider the blessing ‘Sada Suhagan Raho’ (may you be a married woman throughout your life) as the most auspicious for a woman but if you think deep, you will realize it is not. In fact, it is a curse in disguise since it is indirectly hoping that the woman dies before her husband. It endorses the ghastly theory that women are just not capable of living life without a husband so it is better they die before him. How can this insult be tolerated in an era when single women and single mothers are leading a professional life just like their male counterparts? Why can’t it be left to God or nature to decide someone’s lifespan?

Until and unless something revolutionary is done about the above-mentioned points, it will be hypocritical to label marriage as something sacred. Instead of the girl’s parents convincing her to adjust according to these so-called traditions, it is high time the boy’s parents encourage him against such creative patriarchy.

8Jul/145

Mardaani against all odds!

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This is written as a part of I am Mardaani activity exclusively at BlogAdda.com for Indian Bloggers.

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(For the movie review of MARDAANI click HERE.)

By: Keyur Seta

Indians have grown up watching mainstream Hindi films. Most of these films have a common theme – a man (known as ‘hero’) fighting a lone battle against evil forces and emerging victorious. Although we all have seen innumerable films with this theme, we hardly (or never) come across such a hero in real life. Very, very few of us do.

I am glad to have known one such a brave fighter very well. I am more fortunate since that person is also a good friend. She (not ‘he’) is Dr Rita Pal. She is a doctor and a medical journalist. But the reason why I feel she is an ideal Mardaani is because she dared to be a whistleblower against malpractices and corruption in the medical field and refused to give up despite the fact that she was all alone.

This is her story that she narrated to me:-

Originally from Bengal, Rita has been staying and working in the United Kingdom since long. Her story started in 1999 when she was working in the Midlands with the National Health Service (NHS). After realizing the substandard methods of patient care over there, she complained about it. However, the authorities not only ignored her concerns but also labeled them as baseless.

dr-rita-palBut Rita didn’t give up. She continued her fight by approaching the Department of Health, General Medical Council and the media. But these organizations, however, didn’t take any actions and, worse, started assassinating her character. The scheme of things also ensured that Rita didn’t find other employment; she was able to work with NHS on short contracts in order to conceal her ‘past’.

Sadly, this wasn’t all. The worst was yet to come. It came when once Rita came to know that false rumors about her ‘mental state’ are been circulated on a website. This obviously affected her professional life so much that she had to carry a doctor’s certificate to prove her normalcy. When she tried to find the source of these rumors, she came to know that the General Medical Council (GMC) came to the conclusion after doing a secret inquiry about her mental condition and that too without contacting her or having a look at any of her medical reports.

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When the GMC refused to remove the notes of the secret inquiries, Rita approached lawyers but none were ready to help as they felt it is impossible to take legal action against the GMC. She decided to become a litigant and wrote a claim with the help of a friend by going through those thick legal books. Finally, she found a lawyer, a colleague’s friend. This route also wasn’t easy as we all know these lawyers charge a bomb.

After a lot of hardships, Rita finally won the case. The GMC had to remove the notes citing her so-called mental illness. They were also compelled to provide her with a letter stating that there was nothing wrong with her mental condition.

Her story is indeed similar to the theme of a lot of Hindi films. But what she went through was not a film shoot but an actual life struggle that would demoralize many of us, who would have given up when pitted alone against such powerful forces. Unfortunately, the media didn't cover this case much. But that doesn't take away anything from Rita's act of bravery.

I believe fighting a lone battle against such forces and emerging victorious is an ideal example of Mardaani.

P.S: Dr Rita Pal regularly takes part in a number other social causes too.

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(For the movie review of MARDAANI click HERE.)

 

This is a personal message sent by Rani Mukerji after reading this post:-

Letter from Rani

31Dec/130

2013 reinforced our belief in Hope & Humility

By: Keyur Seta

Until mid-November, 2013 seemed like an ordinary year as there wasn’t single event that delighted the masses. But after half of the eleventh month was over, when we had hardly any hope from the year, two events emerged that turned 2013 on its head with joy. Those events reinforced our beliefs in hope and humanity. They are as follows date-wise:

Sachin Tendulkar’s Farewell Speech:
All those who listened to the historic speech Sachin Tendulkar gave would agree that it was much, much more than a speech. After having a closer look at it, one realizes that it is a precious lesson on humbleness. Just imagine – a man who is hailed as the God of cricket and one of the most loved Indians is seen behaving like just like an ordinary Common Man.

Tendulkar’s humility and down-to-earth behavior isn’t new to the world. We have seen it all these years from the kind of career he has had and the way he has spoken to the media. But in his extempore speech, where he thanked a list of people who helped him become what he is today, we got a first-hand account of his inner self. It indirectly taught us that even after achieving the unachievable, one needs to hold on to humbleness, despite receiving a Godly status.

Children are often preached by their elders and teachers on how to become good human beings. Now, they have an easier option of making them listen to the 20 minute speech by the Master Blaster.

aam-aadmi-party-logo

AAP’s Miraculous Success:
Till the start of December 2013, the nation had witnessed the triumph of the Common Man only in movies. It won’t be an overstatement that the masses had given up any hope as far as cleansing the politics was concerned. But how things changed once the results of the Delhi general elections were out!

People from the political fraternity had laughed at Arvind Kejriwal and his team when they decided to contest Delhi elections through their Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). I too, personally, thought it won’t garner any success. Although I had no doubt on their determination, I felt it was next to impossible to change the current filthy political scenario. But the impossible was made possible on December 8 when AAP won 28 seats in their debut election. Earning this many seats in your very first election is nothing short of a miracle.

Now all of a sudden, the masses slowly but surely got awakened to the power of ordinary citizens. The same people who had given up any hope from politics are now unable to stop talking about the subject simply because Kejriwal and AAP have shown a ray of hope, which was missing since time immemorial.

Ever since AAP formed the government on December 28, their popularity is increasing day-by-day. This has sent shockwaves in almost every political party of India. Talking about the politicians that had made fun of AAP, the joke is on them now.

In 48 hours after AAP formed the government, they have already begun delivering by making water free for Delhites, discarding VIP culture and red beacon cars and declaring Rs 1 crore compensation to all police officers sacrificing their lives on duty. If this continues, India will soon see a political revolution like never before. All the best to them for the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections.

Here’s wishing more power to the Common Man in 2014!

16Dec/132

2011: Anna unites India, 2013: Anna shocks India

By: Keyur Seta

anna-hazareAnti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement of 2011 to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill made the impossible look possible: lakhs of Indians from all walks of lives took on to the roads all over the country for the cause of anti-corruption; this was something that was considered impossible in the current era of India. As I too took part in the movement, it became the biggest turning point of my life. Not only was I happy to be a part of a national movement but, personally speaking, it also changed my perspective towards life completely!

At that time, however, I and many other Indians weren’t expecting things to take such a drastic change two years later and that too for the bad. Anna, his team and the entire country were protesting against government’s weak Lokpal Bill and were pushing for the Jan Lokpal Bill. The latter has the power of severely punishing those guilty of corruption. The former is weak in all aspects and is like a free license for the corrupt to indulge in the dirty activity.

To know its weakness, refer to the following points:-

  • All government officers don’t come under the scanner of Lokpal.
  • It doesn’t include Citizen’s Charter through which government agencies need to give a deadline for replying to the applications made my public, failing to which they can be fined.
  • It doesn’t compel every state to make a Lokayukta based on the Lokpal at center.
  • No whistleblower protection!!!
  • No independence from the government to the agencies investigating corruption cases. If the investigating agencies aren’t free from the pressure of the government, how can we expect corrupt government officials to get punished?
  • It imposes imprisonment up to 5 years if a complaint turns out to be frivolous. So if a corrupt minister manages to free himself from the charges by using his power, the poor complainant will be sent to jail! How can we expect people to report cases of corruption if one is always in a danger of being imprisoned?

Two years ago, Anna, rightly so, sternly opposed the weak Lokpal Bill. He kept opposing it until 2013 when he went on another hunger strike to pass the bill. During this time, our parliamentarians, mostly leaders from Congress and Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), unanimously agreed to pass the weak Lokpal Bill. But as shocking as it may sound, Anna and his associate Kiran Bedi have happily given their nod for such a bill! The same person who wholeheartedly opposed the bill is now happy with it for reasons best known to him.

He has not only left millions of his supporters clueless but also with a sense of betrayal. If he is so happy with the bill why didn’t he give a nod for it in 2011 itself? Anna is the person who has changed my attitude towards life so I am saying this with great pain. But I am left with no other choice because he has just made a mockery of the protest that we carried out for more than two years.

What has hurt us the most is the way Anna recently said, “This is my movement, so I will decide which pass should be passed.” All this while, he was heard saying that this is people’s movement. I can seriously smell some ego from this statement; more so because Anna decided to sit on a fast again right after Aam Aadmi Party, formed by his estranged member Arvind Kejriwal, garnered a miraculous show in the Delhi elections.

Naturally, this has left the Congress and the BJP overjoyed. As soon as Anna okayed the weak bill, people from both these parties happily gave their word of passing it. The fact that they so happily agreed to pass it proves how weak it is.

In recent developments, Anna just gave biggest shock when he wrote a letter to Rahul Gandhi thanking him for his commitment on Lokpal! I am speechless at this. This is equal to rubbing salt on the wounds of the Common Man! I have no qualms in saying that the person who started this movement has given a serious blow to it!

8Dec/130

AAP Success: Revolution in Indian politics!

By: Keyur Seta

When Arvind Kejriwal and his group decided to form a political party, I was disappointed as I was sure it won’t yield any results to the cause of clean governance. Big political parties like the Congress and the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) gave a different reaction to this – they laughed their hearts out since they were sure it was a suicidal step.

But circa December 2013, the joke is now on the Congress and the BJP courtesy an unbelievable performance by Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Delhi assembly elections! Garnering 27 seats out of 72 in your very first elections is not only incredible but almost like a miracle! Personally speaking, I have never been so happy at being proved wrong before!

aap-logoFor Sheila Dixit and Congress, this is their worst defeat ever. To put it bluntly, they completely deserved that after continuously allowing humongous scams of unthinkable amounts to take place, failing miserably in protecting women and using police force in monstrously beating up innocent, peaceful protestors. These are just their mainstream blunders.

But it is a much bigger loss to the BJP, who would have had a cakewalk in the Delhi elections if there was no AAP. By helping AAP perform such incredibly in their first elections, the people of Delhi have given a strong reminder that the opposition’s job is not just to criticize the ruling party. The most important task is to strive to bring a change in the dirty system and this is where AAP has scored. These facts along with the communal history of the BJP have affected them.

The road to victory for AAP, however, has been full of potholes created by the Congress and the BJP. There has been constant allegations and mud throwing against Kejriwal and his team from both the political forces. It’s incredible how enemies join hands to crush a common threatening source! But AAP’s biggest challenge came in the form of a rigged sting operation by Media Sarkar, which became a laughing stock later. These factors couldn’t stop the debut political party though.

Another important issue that deserves a mention is the utterly cheap practice by both the Congress and the BJP of buying votes by supplying liquor and other lucrative items. This too didn’t help! Combating this major hurdle is another achievement for AAP. All thanks to the common sense of a large group of Delhi-ites. I am mighty proud of them!

Although AAP has succeeded only in Delhi, the result is nothing short of a political revolution at a time when there was practically no hope. Finally, we can say that the power of the Common Man is not just limited to Hindi films!

aam-aadmi-party

12Nov/132

Sachin’s 200 test ticket fiasco not surprising!

By: Keyur Seta

There is shock and outrage among the Common Man over the non-availability of tickets for Sachin Tendulkar’s 200th test match. But although I am eager to watch Sachin’s last match, I am not at all surprised by the turn of events, forget being shocked. This is simply because of the terrible history of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA).

This is not the first time that the Common Man has been deprived of watching a cricket match in the stadium. For as long as I know, the MCA has always been favoring affiliated clubs and, of course, the so-called VIPs and VVIPs whenever there has been an important match held at the Wankhede Stadium.

Picture Source: Indianexpress.com

Picture Source: Indianexpress.com

So, to me, it doesn’t come as a surprise whatsoever to see them do the same thing during the most important match ever in India; maybe on par with the World Cup Final. Just imagine – out of 50 or 60 thousand tickets, they kept just 4500 tickets for common public. However, even such tiny numbers of tickets were not sold to the public. The excuses given about law and order problem due to the sale of large number of tickets on stands and other issues are plain laughable!

Due to such excuses, they decided to sell those 4500 tickets online but how many did they actually sell? I had predicted beforehand that even the online sale of tickets is just a sham so I didn’t even try. The website owners said the site crashed as too many people logged in. And when the site finally opened, all tickets were already sold. Then the website walas created fake Twitter IDs for praising their site for their work in selling the tickets. You can’t fool as all the time!

In this way, the MCA has indirectly announced that such matches are only for the rich and elite class comprising super rich businessmen and Bollywood celebrities. The Common Man, who has solely helped in taking cricket and Sachin to such enormous heights, has no right to bid farewell to the legend! They have shown that for them, we cricket lovers forming the masses can be treated like dogs because they very well know next time, when there will be an important match at the Wankhede, we all will queue up again!

It also doesn’t come as a surprise to see such high level of black-marketing of tickets. In fact, such corrupt activities take place before each and every important match just below the nose of MCA authorities. What does this mean? Please read between the lines.

So the question remains - what can we do in such a terrible situation? One option is to dissolve not only the MCA but the entire Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The other is to stop buying tickets not only in black but also in normal rates and refuse to go even if you get them from any of the affiliated clubs. Empty stands will open their eyes! I am well aware that both these possibilities sound almost impossible. But there doesn’t seem to be any other option.

12Nov/136

Campa Cola Issue: Common Man about to be strangled!

By: Keyur Seta

I am shocked with disbelief at the happenings outside Mumbai’s Campa Cola Compound in Worli. Hundreds of families have been staying in it for around 25 years. They bought their houses from their hard earned money. Plus, they have been paying regular taxes all these years. But now Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is all set to demolish their houses just because of a shoddy crime committed by the builder and the politicians.

Picture Source: Mid Day

Picture Source: Mid Day

Just try to imagine this – The builder plays a game of crook with the politicians to earn huge sums of money by constructing three illegal floors in the buildings. Oblivious to this fact, a number of families buy flats on these floors. They keep paying taxes for 25 years with the BMC having no clue about the scam.

Now after 25 years, the BMC somehow get enlightened about the scam. So what do they do? They forcefully try to vacate the innocent residents from their home sweet home. They are not provided with any other option or compensation whatsoever! They are common people like me and you. Where will they go now?

How justifiable is to torture the Common Man for the shoddy crime committed by the builder-politician nexus? Where the hell are we heading? I am not sorry to say that the British Raj was better!

These poor residents are literally begging to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra Prithviraj Chavan to intervene and help but the he has no time for them. Of course, he has all the time to attend Sachin Tendulkar’s felicitation!

Picture Source: Ndtv.com

Picture Source: Ndtv.com

What’s more annoying is how scams worth thousands of crores are being allowed in our country. These criminal politicians are roaming scot free while innocent residents are turned into beggars. Also, we all know the extent of corruption in BMC itself. Despite spending hundreds of crores for better roads and other welfare of Mumbai, hardly any work is done. One doesn’t need to be a genius to realize that this is nothing but shoddy corruption. Why no action against any such terrible crimes? Will law be used or rather misused only to punish innocents in such a terrible manner?

As I write this, the poor residents of Campa Cola Compound are struggling and begging for their homes to be returned to them. At any moment their shelter can be snatched away from them for no fault of theirs!

Now all eyes are on the happenings at Campa Cola. If the Common Man is strangled now, it will be proved that we are living in a lawless land!

Picture Source: Indianexpress.com

Picture Source: Indianexpress.com

12Nov/130

Interfaith Dialogue: We have the same flesh & blood!

By: Keyur Seta

All over the world, human population is divided on the basis of religion. There are a large number of religions practiced universally and people from each one consider someone from another religion as different from him or her. But if we look at it closely, we realize that we all fall under the category of human beings; that we all have the same flesh and bones; that we all feel happy and sad at the same things. This universal truth was presented at the event Interfaith Dialogue for Modern Era in Mumbai by Ramakrishna Mission and Math, Mumbai. The Interfaith Dialogue was a part of the 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda, whose message was also spread widely at the event.

There was dialogue and interaction by religious heads of various religions -

  • Christianity by Father Joshua
  • Zoroastrianism by Lion Yazdi Panthaki
  • Baha'ism by Dr Mangesh Teli
  • Buddhism by Prof. Sudhakar Arjun Pawar
  • Jainism Dr. Bipin Doshi
  • Islam by Maulana Syed Athar Ali
  • Sikhism by Mr. Harpal Singh
  • Judaism by Mr. Ralphy Jhira
  • Sufism by Mr. Sami Bubere
  • Hinduism by Swami Atmapriyanandji Maharaj

After listening to each one of them, it wasn't hard to realize that all religions preach the same message of humanity, oneness, equality and love for all fellow beings.

Some pictures from the event:

Picture Source - DnaIndia.com

Picture Source - DnaIndia.com

Interfaith-Dialog-India

Swami-Vivekananda-religion

 

 

12Nov/130

AAP funding issue: Thank you Mr Shinde!

Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde’s decision to probe Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) funding has once again proved that truth is stranger than fiction. We have come across a list of atrocious statements from our politicians but still I find Shinde’s statement completely unfathomable! Here’s why.

Picture Source - Livemint.com

Picture Source - Livemint.com

Just consider this. Here’s a political party (Congress) which is strictly not willing to reveal its sources of humongous funds. On top of that, their rule has given rise to a long list of shocking scams worth, literally, unthinkable amounts. But forget revealing their funding source, the ruling party is not even willing to probe any of these scams despite numerous reports by the CAG.

On the other hand, AAP, forget being involved in any scam, is been revealing every detail of its funding on its website (check it HERE). So what sense can one make out of Shinde’s decision? Somebody please explain!

Before trying to probe AAP’s funding, is Mr Shinde ready to compel Congress and various other parties to disclose their funding? Well, he isn’t for obvious reasons.

But looking at it from another angle, I realize that Shinde has immensely helped the cause of AAP. So please carry on sir!

10Oct/130

Sachin retirement: Memories never retire!

By: Keyur Seta

So the news the world never wished to hear is out. The God of cricket Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar has finally announced retirement from international cricket. Of course, the news is not surprising whatsoever even to a single cricket fan, yet it has hit everyone like a bolt simply because of Sachin’s priceless value. Some are literally into tears!

However, as strange as it may sound, in the midst of the emotional turmoil, I might be in the minority for not being sad, shattered or whatever. This might even label me as anti-Sachin or a Sachin hater, but believe me, I am not. My close friends would know that I have worshipped him as much as you people (you can read my poem on him by clicking HERE). It might sound rude but I think we should all accept the truth.

The law of nature is that everything has to end one day. None can escape this law including Sachin’s career. Every player has to end his career at some point or the other. Let’s be practical - Sachin had to retire one day, no matter how much we hoped against it. Also let’s face it – he is facing a lot of trouble with his technique and timing since recent times. And come on, he has been playing international cricket since 24 long years! How much more do you expect from him?

The number of great and proud memories provided by the Master Blaster is uncountable. It won’t be an overstatement to term them as priceless treasure. So instead of crying over his retirement, let’s be positive and cherish the priceless treasure. Our wailing will make things difficult for Sachin himself. By the way, one thing I can assure everyone is that the great man would continue to do his bit for cricket or other sports. Despite retiring, you will keep hearing good things about him for sure!

Sachin’s emotional strength was proved during the 1999 World Cup where he played against Kenya just after he lost his father. So being true Sachin fans, we can’t afford to be weak. In case, if we do, just revisit his numerous innings available on YouTube. After all, memories never retire!

Picture source: Cricinfo.com

Picture source: Cricinfo.com