Mahendra Singh Dhoni wins the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna becoming the second cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar to win the highest civilian award for sportsmen.
Now I can anticipate the reaction from the perennially grumpy traditionalists. They are first going to pull down the whole concept of government-granted awards by pointing out that sarkari samman is determined more by politics, pull and regional considerations rather than by merit, conveniently forgetting contrary examples to their thesis—like Saif Ali Khan winning a National Award for the path-breaking “Hum Tum”.
Then they will go after Dhoni’s most-average Test record and wonder how that translates to a cricketing achievement award. They will pooh-pooh Dhoni’s one day series win in Australia and T20 victory as credentials that do not merit such a high honor, especially in the light of the fact that Kapil Dev, who won the One day World Cup and did some other things of note (like 400 odd Test wickets), was passed over.
They will ask how in purely cricketing terms, as of 2008, has Dhoni achieved more than Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid.
Of course the problem is that these people are traditionalists. They evaluate performances on the basis of Test matches, those long boring grind fests that produce as much revenue to the Board as “Mr Prime Minister” does for Dev Anand. As a result, they fail to see that Dhoni is a true “Khel” ratna where “khel” is defined purely in terms of the “paisa phenk tamsha dekh” principle. After all who is the highest paid performer in Lalita Pawar’s (Lalit Modi + Sharad Pawar)’s seven ring circus? Who dances with Shahrukh Khan? Who hits shuttlecocks with Ms. Padukone?
Just one person. Mr. Dhoni.
And most importantly, which Indian khiladi (not even khiladiyon ka khiladi Akshay Kumar) has this to his credit?
Temples are echoing with the Bhojpuri song, Set kara di life he Baba Dhoni sangh hamaar ho . (Lord Shiva, please set our lives with Dhoni or men like him). With the Hindi month of Shrawan on, the recently-released album, Baba ke nagariya bada pawan lage la , (Lord Shiva’s abode is sacred to us) has become a favourite for girls in Bihar. Unmarried girls throng Shiva temples during the month to seek suitable husbands.
Humming the song while coming out of a city temple, Shruti, a young devotee said, ”Any sensible girl would love to have a husband like Dhoni.”
Dipali, another devotee, said, ”With Dhoni moving around with a posse of female guards these days, girls like us have stopped thinking of him and instead started praying for a life partner having similar qualities.”
Singer Saloni, who has lent her voice to the song, said, ”The idea of a devotional song featuring Dhoni struck a few months ago. We decided to release the song before Shrawan which is the time girls come to Shiva temples praying for a suitable life partner.” [Link]
Now tell me ye females, would you like a husband like Sourav Ganguly who keeps flirting outside the off-stump at over-weight deliveries from the South or a stoid Dravid who stays up at night hitting a ball hanging at the end of a string “practicing” while you wait at the bed with a glass of warm milk in your hand? [Of course it should be mentioned that if I was a girl I would want a husband like Kumble who keeps trying relentlessly all day and has a nickname of “Jumbo” (as in big) but then again there is a reason why I am not a girl.]
Well I think we know what the girls want. They maangta only Mahi.
And why so?
Because he is a “player” (pronounced “playah”) , a gem of a player, a Khel Ratna.
Who are we, ordinary cricket fans, to argue with that?