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Battting for more than just the game

by Sachin Tendulkar

As a young boy growing up in Mumbai, I would climb trees at night to steal mangoes when everyone else was indoors watching TV. It is ironic that many years later, a newly discovered fruit tree variety was named after me – the Sachin mango tree! Looking back, I now see that certain passions in my life have come full circle.

I think about the very first bat my sister gave me at the age of seven and how I naively imagined myself, for hours on end, batting for India’s cricket team. I loved that bat so much and used it until it broke. Whether I knew it or not, trees became my most prized possession, and holding one in my hand fulfilled my every dream.

Since then, I have lived and dreamed cricket. If ever the bat were to be taken away from me, I would be completely out of my element. Still, it would be selfish of me to think that I am the only one who needs trees. Take the tiger for instance, a majestic symbol of India’s pride and heritage. Not only has the tiger been hunted down at alarming rates in the last century, but the destruction of its forests reduces its security and way of life.

I am by no means an expert in conservation, but simple logic tells me that we should let tigers live in forests without disturbance, just as we in our own habitat enjoy an uninterrupted life. I make this simple link because my hometown, Mumbai, has a perfect example of cohabitation: the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park is particularly unique because it is surrounded by India’s most populous city, Mumbai. It encompasses 104 square kilometres of forests, hills, valleys and lakes. The park is a home to a rich biodiversity: there are an estimated 1,000 plant species, 284 bird species, 5,000 insect species, 40 mammal species, 150 butterfly species and 62 reptile species. All this helps to attract more than 2 million people every year, making it one of the most visited parks in the world.

The forest also helps fight the growing air-pollution problems in the nearby city.

Circling back to when I first held a bat in my hand, I realize now that life is more than winning a game. It is an intricate balance of opportunities, in which nature provides for us, but we also give back to other life forms. By taking such steps as preserving Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the forests in turn protect the endangered tigers, provide us with industry and serve as the lungs of Mumbai.

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