I do not know of any other living sporting icon from India, who's birthday is a red letter day in the Indian calendar.
April 24 of every year is a day when Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar makes national headlines(just like he does at every other time of the year). But this date is special. It is special because it is a time to salute a man who has offered yeoman service to Indian cricket, and indeed, Indian sport in general. It is a day when the entire nation, cutting across artificial and real differences, unites to celebrate a man who lives a life that millions dream of. Sachin Tendulkar is the aspiration and inspiration of an extremely ambitious nation. This day is a celebration of a real life dream!
What Sachin has done on the sporting arena usually gets overpowered by the things that he has done off-field. The sheer weight of expectations that every Indian sportslover showers on him every time the champion plays cricket, is a pressure that very few on this planet can handle. To expect him to win every match for India on a world stage, for the last 18 years is in itself a part of Indian cricketing legend. I actually recognise the man more for his temperament, his ability to handle such pressure, his mental strength, his poise, and indeed his sense of balance and simplicity that he retains till this day.
For a man who can command things in Indian sport (if he wishes to), Tendulkar remains committed to the country and his team and always puts these two gems ahead of his personal milestones. That is incredible, given that most sportsmen live a short life in their stream and are remembered for their records.
But not Sachin. He will be remembered for his contribution to India as a whole. He will be remembered as a man who taught Indians to prove to the world that we are well and truly capable of being the best in the business. He reminds every Indian that it is possible to dream big and achieve great things in this world. His name echoes the distant possibility that one can realise one's deepest passions, ambitions, dreams, and desires by the sheer dint of courage, hard work, performance and indeed meritocracy. All that one has to do is to constantly reinforce his/her belief that one is good enough, come what may.
I think the greater recognition of the man's stature in international cricket is represented by the immense adulation he enjoys with cricketing audiences worldwide, and the fantastic camaraderie, respect and fear that opponent teams have for him, even as he enters the twilight of his illustrious career.
And I think, to Sachin's credit, he makes every Indian proud. Very, very, very proud!
Happy 35th Birthday, Sachin!