23rd Nov 2013 : The Sunday Guardian, Mumbai Sachin Tendulkar, who retired from cricket on 16 November, will allow the use of his name for a rural electrification programme by a private company, his close friend revealed to The Sunday Guardian.
Tendulkar has inked a pact with a global electric company, Schneider to provide electricity to around 25,000 villages in the country from January next year. The batting maestro will allow Schneider to use his name for its promotion. The company, in lieu of that, will provide solar electricity kits to these villages free of cost. It has already supplied such kits to around 1,000 residents of Velunje village near Nashik in Maharashtra. "Sachin has agreed to dedicate more time to this project from January next year. He will not earn any money from this project. He could raise a big fund for the villagers as his brand value has scaled a lot after his nomination for Bharat Ratna," said Tendulkar's friend requesting anonymity.
Tendulkar's contribution in creating a tool bank has already benefited farmers in Maharashtra's Wardha district. Wardha, which is a part of the Vidarbha region, registers four farmer suicide cases on an average every day.
The officials of Apulkee, a Pune-based non profit organisation working for the farmers, had approached Tendulkar in May this year to help them in their work. Earlier, he was sceptical whether he could devote time for the cause. However, a cricket columnist and an Apulkee official, Sunandan Lele convinced him otherwise. Tendulkar sent a text message to Anand Mahindra, the chairman and managing director of Mahindra and Mahindra, asking whether he could provide tractors to the farmers. His company is the largest tractor manufacturer in the country. Mahindra replied in the affirmative. "Sachin was doubtful whether Mahindra would agree. The industrialist did not waste time and took action immediately," Lele said.
Aplukee created a tool bank comprising tractors and other essential tools needed to ready the farmland for the sowing of seeds before monsoon. They selected several small farmers who owned lands between one and five acres but could not afford to buy or rent farming tools. Apulkeee provided them with the tools. They only charged the tractors' maintenance fees from them. "Vidarbha received a good monsoon this year. The farmers are expecting a good yield. The idea of creating a tool bank has clicked," Lele said. He maintained that Tendulkar's physical presence is not required to carry out the good work. "His SMS also works, such is his aura."