Sachin Tendulkar may be able to hit the ball out of the park on the cricket field. But will he be able to dazzle with his pyrotechnics in Parliament? We can only wait and watch. Yes, his nomination has generated a great deal of interest. And it would be premature to say that the great batsman will be too busy with his cricket commitments to actually add value to the House. With his attention to detail and meticulousness, we can only hope that he will do the groundwork he needs to before scoring a few in the House. But his nomination - the first active sportsperson to be nominated to the House - raises several valid doubts about the utility of inducting celebrities into the House.
It would also be interesting to see what film star Rekha, another nominee, brings to the table. This is because in the past there have been several celebrities who did not cover themselves in glory despite being given this high office to which they could have made signal contributions. They seemed to have preferred to pursue their vocations over the conduct of their duties in the House. The nightingale of India, Lata Mangeshkar, accepted the seat and didn't turn up in the House even once for the entire term. Some film stars treated this honour with scant regard as did Dhar-mendra and Govinda. Some celebrities did show up but did not make the mark expected of them. But some might argue that a few swallows do not a summer make. There is no doubt that Mr Tend-ulkar is eminently qualified to raise the issue of sportspersons in India. He could push for greater attention to training and facilities for neglected sports. And we can be rest assured that he is not loo-king for power and pelf by becoming an MP, he has all that and then some. The purpose of a nomination to the Rajya Sabha is to primarily draw on the experience and expertise of people who have excelled in their fields and add value to debates of national and international importance. But if a person is otherwise preoccupied - as Mr Tendulkar appears to be at the moment - he will not live up to the expectations of those who think that his greatness as a cricketer will translate automatically to the political arena.
Of course, to point fingers at the lack of contribution from some of the past nominated members is to risk the criticism of the conduct of some elected members past and present in the Lok Sabha. Many who have been sent to the Lok Sabha on the hopes and dreams of their constituents have either been silent or disruptive during their tenures. Many turn up for the proceedings without having done any homework, some try to the play to the galleries and still others promote vested interests. But it would add insult to injury if celebrities are nominated solely for their celebrity value. The whole exercise then loses its prestige and sheen. At a time when young people - in a very young nation - are becoming disillusioned with politics, it is imperative that the choice of Rajya Sabha candidates does not instil more cynicism.