Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sachin Tendulkar Serves As An Inspiration For Navas Nizar, A Blind Political Science Professor

Taken from Economic Times

By KP Narayana Kumar, ET Bureau |
In 1993, a 10-year-old blind boy was forced to conclude that in Kerala there was no escaping politics.
Navas Nizar grew up listening to his father read to him newspapers everyday even as discussing politics was a way of life in his coastal town. The family was keen
the boy follow international affairs and politics and understand the world better than his peers, perhaps to offset his inability to see the world. But
it was only after he was sent to a residential special school for the blind that Navas realized that even here his mates were clear about where they stood.
The arguments about state politics were intense and most boys at the school were either with the
Congress or the CPI (M).

Navas soon came to know that there were others like him who faced a similar challenge and that many of his classmates shared a "visceral passion and determination
to overcome it". And mercifully it took one name to deflect the boys' attention — and Navas's in particular — from politics to sports,
cricket in the main: Sachin Tendulkar.

"At the blind school, we swapped stories about our favourite events, personalities and about contemporary politics and sports, cricket in particular. Sachin
was always on the top of the list of sports personalities that we discussed. He was 20 years old then and to know of him being spoken in the same breath of established figures like Mohammad Azharuddin and Kapil Dev was thought-provoking."

Tendulkar the Teacher

The boys would listen to the radio commentary and revel in the exploits of the young cricketer who had recently shown promise of becoming one of the greatest
back then.

"The Tendulkar phenomenon struck me then and there: here is an example of how to live up to one's billing and how to deal with a set of expectations. Sachin
forced me to indulge in my first flashback to take stock of my life. He made me aware of the stakes my parents and wellwishers have placed on me. Sachin's
first lesson for me is: performance is honesty, honesty is performance."

Navas who teaches political science at the Dayal Singh College in Delhi says that from November 1993 till date, Tendulkar has been his "bridge to the world
around me".

Navas was the first child in his family, followed by four brothers and one sister. He was born with a visual handicap,
an ophthalmic disorder called congenital glaucoma and the earliest seven years of Navas's childhood were spent visiting eye hospitals all over south India.
Eventually it became known to the family that the ailment was incurable.

Navas Nizar, a blind man, who credits Sachin Tendulkar with helping him overcome his visual handicap
Navas believes that there are some parallels in his endeavour to overcome his handicap and Tendulkar's rise from being the baby of the cricket world to
becoming its youngest emperor. For instance, he suggests that family has played a huge role in supporting him as well as the cricketer who is set to retire

"I feel I am special, privileged. I had people to support me as in Sachin's case. That always reminded me that I have a responsibility to live up to them.
They were demanding and constantly measured me. I remember the teacher asked me in school on my first day whether anybody in class could count up to 10.
I could by then — thanks to the coaching given by my family — count up to 100 in four languages."

According to Navas, once his father asked him where he had kept his Braille textbook and he was unable to find it. His father replied curtly and without
mercy: "As it is you can't see; so don't become careless with your possessions."

One of the foremost lessons that Navas has taken to heart after following Tendulkar's game is the art of preparation. Navas learnt to develop his memory
better than most people and he can recall conversations, tastes and textures that he encountered years ago. He can also state with clarity about where
he was on a particular day when any event of significance happened around him.

He also developed a technique of asking a set of almost bureaucratic questions to anyone that he gets introduced to. These questions help him form a picture
about the person and stay with him for life.

People who are familiar with the man are always amazed at his ability to recall a conversation that happened many years ago. "I keep remembering people
I have met almost on a daily basis. This helps me update my memory consistently. I think I know why Sachin says that practice is more important than actual
match situations."

He also reads three newspapers everyday using a print to audio conversion software.

More than Cricket

Over time, Navas also developed his interest in cricket, began to follow cricket history, became a cricket statistician and can reel off match statistics from games that were played before he was born. "My mind is always practicing imaginary scenarios. I framed this conversation in my mind before coming to meet you," says a smiling Navas.

"You just cannot beat the man on match statistics. He is a human Google," says Rajanish Henry, a close friend who is also blind, and a colleague at the
Cricket Association for the Blind in Kerala. Cricket is an easy game for the blind to follow since the field positions are more stable and blind people can mentally locate the fielders,
bowler and batsman and understand the action, says Navas who is married to Faseela who has normal eyesight. The couple has a two-year-old son Abdul Kalam.

"At the blind school, the boys used to follow cricket over the radio. The commentator Suresh Saraiah was my favourite. He was a good storyteller and there was something special about his voice."

The political science teacher easily reels off some of his cherished memories about the cricketer. "I was at the Madurai railway station on November 24,
1993 during the Hero Cup semi-final when Tendulkar skillfully bowled and took care of a dangerous South African line-up.

"In 1994, Sachin kept scoring freely. I particularly remember his innings against New Zealand in Baroda where he scored an unbeaten 115."

The 30-year-old says that the most intense contests in Tendulkar's career, in his opinion, were with Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Dale Steyn. "Of the three, I think McGrath tested him, while Warne was conquered by the master-blaster and Steyn put up an impressive performance."

Navas also marvels at the fact that Tendulkar has a bit of all the great Indian batsmen of his time. "He has Sehwag's flamboyance, Dravid's impregnability,
Laxman's timing and Ganguly's daring. It will be difficult for any batsman to repeat his feats."

Over the years, Navas says he followed Tendulkar not only as a cricket buff but also to inculcate in himself the values that the legendary cricketer stands

"See, the way Sachin plays it is clear that he is like a story-teller who wants to communicate certain values. For instance, he knows what he stands for:
the pursuit of excellence. He respects the spirit of the game, always. Sachin also puts the agenda of the team before flamboyance which is why he is able
to switch gears according to a given situation. He is willing to forego ego and look ugly while trying to regain form and will even put away his signature
strokes during a lean phase which is the secret to longevity of any kind. He knows there is more to life than cricket which is why his celebration and
any expression of disappointment are both tempered."

Role Model

Navas — who manages the Cricket Association for the Blind in Kerala — says the way Tendulkar has carried himself over the years has made it clear that
he wears his greatness lightly and with humility. "The man's work is all about imparting a message. This is why he keeps talking about the significance
of hard work every time. He stands for most things that should guide any youngster trying to find his way in the world. Sachin has taught me all this but
in one line he has taught me the discipline of gratitude."

Navas also remembers reading an anecdote about how thousands of fans gathered outside a store in Chennai to catch a glimpse of the cricketer. The cricket
star instead of rushing in to the car like most stars do when they are mobbed ambled towards the vehicle which suggested that he always tried to maintain
a sense of normalcy between him and fans. "He has never had a histrionic outburst in public; instead he always communicated with the bat."

So how does Navas rate Sachin Tendulkar's contribution to India?

At a restaurant in Delhi, Navas pays attention to his ice cream and ponders for a while. Then he states: "Have you noticed how buoyant the youngsters of
the past two decades are? Sachin has played a huge role in instilling that confidence and positive attitude in them. He has made them more adventurous
and daring and at the same time shown them the importance of the old-school thought of applying oneself. He is the motivator-in-chief of India."

But has he ever wondered about what Tendulkar looks like?

"Somehow, I have never bothered with that question beyond a point. I do not know his skin colour or how tall he is. The impression I have of him is of
a person who is always on the move and is present everywhere. I am glad he is retiring at the right time and on his own terms.".

Source: Economic Times.

No comments:

Post a Comment