If cricket is a religion in India, then Sachin Tendulkar would be God. And it appears that officials - be it civic body or otherwise - are ready to go an extra mile to please the God of cricket.
After officials tried to waive the tax on the Ferrari that he was gifted, the officials at the Regional Transport Office (Andheri) were ready to report to work two hours prior to office hours for Tendulkar.
According to sources, Tendulkar had approached the RTO officials to convert his licence to a smart card on Monday morning. In anticipation of the Master Blaster's arrival, the officials began work at 8.30 am rather than their usual 10.30 am, two hours before working hours.
Sources added that the authorities had also made special efforts to avoid a mob outside the office. However, as soon as word spread that Tendulkar was approaching the RTO office, a huge crowd collected to catch a glimpse of the cricketing genius. Sachin arrived at the office at 9.30 am and within minutes, left the office with Anjali, his wife, behind him.
An RTO official told MiD DAY that they had taken his photograph and his fingerprint and that he would receive his smart licence within three days. "Tendulkar is very lucky. Normally, a smart licence takes up to three months, but we have promised to give him his renewed licence in three days." Despite several attempts, RTO officer A N Bhalchandra remained unavailable for comment.
Furore over Sachin's Ferrari
In July 2002, automotive giant Ferrari gifted Sachin Tendulkar a Ferrari 360 Modena for equaling Don Bradman's record of 29 Test centuries. Later, in September, the then Finance Minister Jaswant Singh had written to Tendulkar telling him that the government would waive off the customs duty imposed on the car. However, the rules at that time stated that customs duty could only be waived if a person was receiving a car as a prize.
When the move to waive customs duty became public in July 2003, political and social activists protested the waiver and filed a PIL in the Delhi High Court. Finally, Fiat India agreed to pay the import duty.
What is a smart card?
The smart card system was introduced in Maharashtra in 2006. The step was taken to encourage more people to convert their licence booklets into smart cards.