New Delhi: Star cricketer Sachin Tendulkar on Wednesday became the first sportsperson — also the only eminent personality without any aviation background — to be selected for an Indian Air Force honour after the IAF announced an honorary rank of Group Captain for him.
Elated with the honour, Tendulkar said, “It is indeed a great honour that I have been considered for honorary Group Captain in the IAF. As an Indian I am proud to be associated with the dynamic force and I shall do my very best to be brand ambassador for the force.”
The IAF said in a statement that under the provision of grant of honorary rank by Armed Forces to eminent personalities acknowledging their contribution towards the nation, “the President and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of India is pleased to confer Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar the honorary rank of Group Captain of the Indian Air Force.”
“In recognition of Sachin’s glorious achievements as a cricketer and sports icon par excellence, IAF had mooted a proposal to confer the honorary rank of Group Captain.
“Besides the recognition, his association with the IAF will motivate the younger generation to join the Air Force to serve the country,” the statement added.
Reacting to it, Tendulkar said modalities for the event were being worked out.
“I’m looking forward to familiarising myself with the IAF and I once again salute IAF for the great honour bestowed on me,” he said in a statement from London.
In 2008, India’s World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev had received the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel of the Territorial Army.
Till now 21 eminent persons have been granted honorary ranks by the IAF. The first person was Raja of Jawhar, Raja Yashwant Rao who was conferred Flight Lieutenant rank in 1944.
JRD Tata was made an honorary Air Vice Marshal in 1974 and the last one to get such an honour was another industrialist-cum-aviator Vijaypat Singhania who was made an honorary Air Commodore in 1990.
Tendulkar is the first sportsperson to be conferred this honour, also the first person with no aviation background.
Tendulkar is arguably the best batsman in the history of cricket, having amassed some 31,000-plus runs in Test and ODI cricket with 93 international centuries under his belt.
The 37-year-old is not only the highest run-getter in both Test and ODI versions of the game but also the only player to have scored a double century in the 50-over format.
One of India’s most decorated sportspersons, Tendulkar has won the country’s highest sports honour — the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna — and the Padma Vibhushan award.