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Ravi Gaikwad: Man with a mission

Gaikwad’s involvement with cricket is not new. Growing up in Pune, Gaikwad played at the Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19 levels for Maharashtra and went as far as the Ranji camp. However, when the time came to choose between sport and academics, i...

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Nov 01, 2019, 09.06 AM IST
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Ravi Gaikwad (L) with Sunil Gavaskar (C) and Sachin Tendulkar at the launch of the Road Safety World Series.
By Anand Vasu

At a time when cricket leagues around the world are under the scanner, whether it is for corruption on the field or non-payment of dues to participants, one league is attempting to stand apart in trying to further a worthy social cause, one that is much needed in India.

The Road Safety World Series, which will be played by retired cricketers from five countries — India, Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies — has been set up with the express ambition of drawing attention to the damage caused on the roads of India, with an outlook to sensitising the public on the need for more to be done to improve matters.

Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Muttiah Muralitharan and Brett Lee will headline the league, to be played in Mumbai from February 4 in 2020, and as many as 110 cricketers from around the world have already committed to taking part.

The league will feature 10 matches followed by a final.

Putting together a league of this breadth, with the involvement of top stars, even retired ones, from around the world, is no easy task and the man who has been driving it is Ravi Gaikwad, Regional Transport Office (Thane) from Mumbai. He has roped in Sunil Gavaskar as commissioner of the league and Gavaskar’s company, Professional Management Group will run the tournament.

Gaikwad’s involvement with cricket is not new. Growing up in Pune, Gaikwad played at the Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19 levels for Maharashtra and went as far as the Ranji camp. However, when the time came to choose between sport and academics, it was the latter that won out, perhaps unsurprisingly, given that Gaikwad was state topper in the Higher Secondary Certificate examinations.

Astint in science followed with TATA before Gaikwad joined the RTO.

“One thing that runs very deeply in every Indian’s DNA is cricket. The reach of this game and the following of its stars are phenomenal and we want to spread our message through this game which is so close to everyone in this country,” Gaikwad told ET Sport. “If you look at statistics of tragedies on the road in India, you will be shocked. By official estimates one person loses their life on the road every four minutes. Of every 100 fatalities in the world in road accidents, 30 are Indians.”

According to the World Resources Institute, the number of road fatalities worldwide could touch 2.2 million by the year 2020, and India accounted for 150,000 fatalities in 2018. The institute estimates that the fatalities cost the country approximately $ 58 billion, which is roughly 3% of its Gross Domestic Product.

“Look, there is no doubt that the numbers are serious and more needs to be done. But, let me put it more simply. Each time there is afatality, it is not just one person who is affected,” says Gaikwad. “An entire family is affected, not just from an emotional and mental perspective, but it could be the single breadwinner who has passed away. Just medical expenses put a huge strain on the system. But what people must realise is that in an instant, the course of a family’s entire future is changed forever.”

Gaikwad, whose resume includes two registered Guinness Records, one for the largest handball class and another for the largest world safety class, certainly does mind taking on ambitious projects, but he is aware that tremendous support is needed if this current one is to succeed. “All different streams have to come together for something like this,” says Gaikwad. “There are major companies who work in Corporate Social Responsibility, there are individuals who can lend their time and expertise, and, of course, there is the public, at whom the message is ultimately aimed.”

The tournament has already secured a broadcast partner in Colours Cineplex and will also be streamed via the Voot and Jio platforms.

With a new league springing up in some part of the world almost every month, this is one with an important difference. How it pans out, is going to be a challenge that can only be overcome by all stakeholders coming together.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of www.economictimes.com.)

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