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Monday, June 4, 2012

Sachin Tendulkar is sworn in as Indian senator

Sachin Tendulkar has become India's first active sportsperson to be sworn in as a member of parliament.

In a surprising move, the world's highest Test run scorer was nominated to the upper house, the Rajya Sabha, along with the film personality Rekha and the industrialist Anu Aga in April this year.

"In the last 22 years of my international career, cricket has given me so much," said the 39-year-old batsman after taking oath in the vice president Hamid Ansari's office.

"Today with the nomination, I am in a better position not only to help cricket but also other sports," he added.

In March, Tendulkar, who continues to play Test and one-day matches for his country, became the first cricketer to score 100 international centuries. The Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi invited Tendulkar to her residence to congratulate him on the historic feat.

Tendulkar, 39, no longer plays international Twenty20 cricket but is still one of the world's leading one-day international and Test match players and he competed in the recent Indian Premier League season.

He is the first active sportsman to serve in India's upper house and on Monday he repeated that he had no immediate plans to retire.

"I am in a better position not only to help cricket but also other sports in the country," he said. "I would be happy if I am remembered (as) someone who has contributed to all sports in India rather than just my cricket statistics."

Tendulkar has previously been careful to steer well clear of India's often bitter political world, and it remains unclear how much he will participate in parliament after his playing days are over.

When he was nominated in April, the Times of India said the gesture made "little sense" while some opposition lawmakers accused the government of crass populist politics.

Om Mathur, a member of parliament for the main opposition BJP, said at the time that Tendulkar was being used by the ruling Congress party to boost its support in the cricketer's home state of Maharashtra.

Tendulkar is the world's highest run-scorer in both Test and one-day cricket and in March became the first batsman to complete 100 international centuries - 51 in Tests and 49 in one-dayers.

The cricketing world first took notice of the child prodigy when, aged 17 and playing only his ninth Test, he hit a match-saving 119 not out against England at Old Trafford in 1990.

Since then he has been revered in India as a demi-god and has lived with the intense pressure of the cricket-obsessed public believing that every time he comes in to bat he will win the game for his team.

Despite such challenges, the "master blaster" has retained a reputation as a honest and humble family man who is involved in a variety of charity work.

His only weakness is said to be an insatiable love of fast cars which he reportedly drives around the streets of Mumbai in the early hours to avoid attracting attention.
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