Today, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar
played his 200th and final professional match in Mumbai. Here, he
writes about his career, a changing India and his role as a Coca-Cola brand
1993 to 2013: Two decades that were marked by some of the most challenging, exhilarating, poignant and memorable moments of my life. Playing cricket for India over the years has given me life time memories. I have been fortunate to be part of a generation that has lived through some of the most exciting years of cricket. The game has seen so much change over the last two decades – from advances in technology, to new formats – yet the basic spirit and passion surrounding the game remains the same. The last 20 years have witnessed more changes than any other era since Indian independence, and we have all been fortunate enough to witness and participate in this journey.
When I started my career in 1989, India was a very different place – opportunities were fewer than today but so was the competition. There was much to learn and experience – a perfect platform to start a new journey.
Today, the world has advanced much beyond the linear thinking of the '90s. The spirit of the game remains strong even as the players have evolved and given way to a newer, more competitive generation. Today, the field is populated with young exciting talent. From a hardcore Test-loving nation, we have lovingly adopted the 20-20 format. We have given the world the Indian Premiere League, one of the biggest sporting leagues in the world. The game has evolved over the years, and many young and talented players have got a chance to prove their mettle with these formats.
It is true in every industry and every sector – markets have evolved – the public has changed lifestyles, and so there are a whole new range of products available in the market.
I distinctly remember being proud of buying a second-hand international car in 1993, and today we are spoiled for choices with the best of brands available in the country. But, as they say, "the more things change, the more they remain the same," and Coca Cola is a manifestation of this idiom. The joy of sipping the Coke remains the same, several years hence!
2013 is all about re-inventing oneself. For players like us who have been around for over two decades, there is a need to look beyond our current pre-occupation and identify new challenges and take on new roles. I have been associated with Coca-Cola for several years, and the one thing I have seen during this association is the ability of the company to keep re-inventing itself.
We took up a new challenge in 2011 with the Support My School campaign, and I am proud to say that this has been one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of my life.
The Support My School campaign came about as a response to several studies which indicated that a large number of schools in rural and semi-urban areas lacked basic amenities leading to accelerated student drop-out rates. These schools needed some dedicated support to ensure that the needs for these facilities were met. We took up this task with great enthusiasm in January 2011, and today we have surpassed 250 schools in our endeavor to bring happiness to students in rural and semi-urban India.
We live in the era of the cloud where sharing is the new reality. We are collectively seeking to make the world a better place. As our needs and wants have evolved over the last 20 years, so have the needs of the country. Initiatives like Support My School are testament to the positive impact on community that can be achieved by pooling of thoughts and resources.
I wish Coca-Cola India the heartiest congratulations on completing 20 years of opening happiness for the people of India. Here’s to 20 more glorious years. I look forward to witnessing more milestones and achievements of the company over the coming years.
An edited version of this piece was published in the Nov. 14, 2013 edition of The Hindustan Times.
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