Questions have been raised over the decision to honour Sachin Tendulkar with an Order of Australia, with an Australian MP and sports commentators across the country terming it as 'soft diplomacy' from Australia to please the Indian government.
While An Australian politician Rob Oakshott has questioned Prime Minister Julia Gillard's decision to award Tendulkar, columnists of well-respected newspapers Down Under condemned the decision. "I love Sachin Tendulkar, I love cricket. but I just have a problem with soft diplomacy as you call it," he said, adding "Getting in on the act of the Australian honours."
Oakeshott pointed out that the honour should be given to an Australian for doing community work and not Tendulkar. "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," he said.
Peter Munro, who writes for Brisbane Times, termed the move as "curious" and the one which has been done to bolster relations between the two nations. "Short of sending a ship-load of uranium to India, Ms Gillard's nod to Tendulkar in what she called the "cricket-mad nation" has worked wonders in bolstering relations with our fastest-growing export market," he said.
Munro questioned the decision saying Tendulkar has done nothing to benefit Australia apart from entertaining them by playing cricket. "Sure, many Australians like cricket and Tendulkar is particularly good at playing it. But beyond giving us something to watch over summer, what has he done to benefit Australia?"
Oakshott said that Tendulkar was an "obvious diplomatic touch point", and he further suggested setting up an inter-nation award, such as an "Australia-India award".
There was also uproar on Twitter following the announcement of Tendulkar getting the honour, with many reacting angrily at the decision.
Australian cricket writer Malcolm Conn said in his tweet: "@malcolmconn: #cricket How can PM Julia Gillard award Tendulkar an Order of Australia after his central role in the Monkeygate racism scandal?"
Another Australian sports journalist Greg Baum reacted sharpily to the news, saying: "@GregBaum: I love Sachin, but Order of Australia? I only ever saw him making disorder of Australia."
During her visit to New Delhi on Tuesday, Gillard announced that Tendulkar an Order of Australia, an award given to an individual for his achievement or merit in service to Australia or humanity in general, will be conferred on Tendulkar for his contribution to the sport.
Tendulkar was elated after hearing the news hoping it would further "cement the bond" between the two countries. "I indeed feel privileged and honoured at receiving this recognition," Tendulkar said from South Africa where he is representing Mumbai Indians in the ongoing Champions League Twenty20 tournament. "I hope that this honour will further cement the bond between the two countries, we both share a unique love for cricket," he added.