President Pratibha Patil has conferred the honorary rank of Indian Air Force (IAF) group captain on Sachin Tendulkar in recognition of the laurels the batting maestro has brought to the nation, an official statement said on Wednesday.
"The president (who is also) the supreme commander of the armed forces of India is pleased to confer on Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar the honorary rank of group captain," the statement said.
The honour is given "under the provision of grant of honorary rank by armed forces to eminent personalities acknowledging their contribution towards the nation", the statement added.
Tendulkar will function like a brand ambassador and his "association with the IAF will motivate the younger generation to join the air force to serve the country".
The statement said the sports icon, who is presently out of the country, has accepted the honour and expressed his pleasure at receiving it.
"It is indeed a great honour that I have been considered for the honorary rank of group captain in the Indian Air Force. As an Indian, I am very proud to be associated with this dynamic force and I shall do my very best to be a brand ambassador for the IAF," the statement quoted Tendulkar as saying.
The 37-year-old right hand batsman has played 166 Test matches, scoring more than 13,400 runs - the highest by any cricketer - and 47 Test hundreds.
In his 21-year cricketing career, the little master, as he is popularly known, has played 442 One-Day International matches, scoring 17,598 runs, inclusive of 46 tons.
Earlier this year, he became the first cricketer to score a double-century in a one-dayer.
Tendulkar is now "looking forward to familiarising myself with the IAF".
"I salute the Indian Air Force for this great honour bestowed on me," he said.
Till date 21 people have been granted the honorary ranks from flight lieutenant to air marshal in the IAF. The last person to be conferred an honorary rank, that of air commodore, was industrialist Vijaypath Singhania Oct 8, 1990.