Aus MP questions Gillard over award to Sachin

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Melbourne: A day after Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that legendary Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar would be conferred with 'Order of Australia', an Australian politician on Wednesday questioned the decision, saying the rare honour should not be used for diplomatic gains.

"I love Sachin Tendulkar, I love cricket. but I just have a problem with soft diplomacy as you call it," federal Independent MP Rob Oakeshott said. He said the special award should not be used for diplomatic gains, adding that the Order should be focused on recognising Australians doing community work instead.

"I'm not going to die in a ditch over it … but it's about the integrity of the honours list which should be for Australians," the MP was quoted as saying by ABC.

He said that Tendulkar was an "obvious diplomatic touch point," and suggested setting up an inter-nation gong, such as an "Australia-India award".

On Tuesday Gillard, who is currently on a three day visit to New Delhi, announced that Tendulkar would get the special honour. ABC also quoted Australia-India Youth Dialogue Chairman Ruchir Punjabi as saying that "the Order of Australia to Sachin Tendulkar is probably going to be bigger than the nuclear issue."

"I think the nuclear issue is a trust issue with the Indian government whereas the Order of Australia to Sachin Tendulkar is going to be the headline in most newspapers here. And I think … things like that play an important role in bringing the two countries closer," he said.

Tendulkar, considered the finest batsman in contemporary cricket, scored 15,533 runs in 190 Tests besides having a mammoth total of 18,426 runs in 463 ODIs.
 

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