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Key going forward is giving the youth responsibility: Kumble

Former India captain on everything but cricket
A TELEGRAPH EXCLUSIVE
Anil Kumble

Bangalore: Former India captain Anil Kumble, who is the Karnataka State Cricket Association president, spoke to The Telegraph on non-cricket issues.

Kumble (42), incidentally, is co-vice-chairman of the state’s Wildlife Board.

The following are excerpts

Q Challenges facing India...

AThe biggest challenge is to live up to our expectations... There are opportunities... We’re a young country, with about 70 per cent of the population in the age group of 20-35, which is huge... Infrastructure is a huge challenge... The basic needs are a challenge... Water, power... It’s important to look at alternate ways of ensuring that the basic needs are met. The key going forward is giving the youth responsibility and the power to go out and make a change. How many of the young people can make a change, well, that’s also a challenge. Of course, you need skill to make a difference.

If it’s about getting into politics...

Not just politics, but any field where the youth have the ability to make a change. The youth need to take responsibility, need to lead a movement.

The degree to which he follows politics in the country...

I follow it as closely as any normal Indian would.

His take on the recent scams...

Scams and corruption don’t help the image of the country... So, you need honest people, need people who have integrity, who can stand up... Need people in whom others have faith... Honesty and integrity are, for me, basic qualities. If people believe in you, then you can get things done. But, if you’re looking at personal gains, then that’s no good for the country.

If there’s an India of his dreams…

I’d like to see every Indian have the basic amenities, have the opportunity for education... We have a great democracy, but I’d like our economic growth to touch every Indian... I’d like equal opportunities for all... I’d like India to move forward, instead of being pulled down by scams and corruption. You don’t want to be pulled down, to take one step forward and two back.

So...

Take only giant steps forward... We’re in a constant stage of development... Just look at the construction activities across the country... It’s mind-boggling... From a work in progress, we need the work to be completed... To be that finished article.

His message to youngsters...

That they need to be honest and have the commitment... If you have a dream, have a goal to achieve, then every day is important... You need to be disciplined... If you aren’t, then you’ll be letting yourself, and a lot of people around you, down... At the end of the day, never have a feeling of guilt, that you shouldn’t have done something.

If he’s had a role model outside cricket...

I’ve always admired someone like N.R. Narayana Murthy... His commitment to his work is really amazing... The wealth creation for all the people who’re part of the Infosys family is just amazing... He started really small and look at what he has been able to achieve. He has stayed very humble and it’s great to have someone like him amidst us. A shining example for the youth.

Being passionate about wildlife...

A lot can be done and a lot needs to be done, but you need a strong political will to make changes. You also need awareness... It’s not the right way to go about things if the so-called eco-friendly resorts keep mushrooming near sanctuaries... We need to have a lot more reserve forests and a lot more corridors to become a part of the protected areas.

The Establishment’s approach towards protecting wildlife...

It’s probably not a priority in the overall scheme of things of governments... For various reasons, politically, it doesn’t feature as a priority. So, we need the people in general and the media to get together, to spread awareness. That’s essential.

Forests disappearing...

Any protected area isn’t only for us in the present generation, but for the future generations. Let’s not forget that the air we breathe and the water we drink is linked to the environment. It’s important that the forests are protected and, with the forests, the habitat.

If he moves around with a red light on his vehicle...

Not at all.

The Anil Kumble Foundation...

We’ve been able to not just create awareness, but also recognise and reward protectors of the forests. We give awards. Those who work away from the metros need to be recognised.

Sachin Tendulkar as an MP...

I was surprised when he accepted the Rajya Sabha nomination, as he’s still an active cricketer.

Finally, if one could see him in Parliament...

(Laughs) I haven’t been asked, so I don’t know if I’ll be in the Rajya Sabha! I have my plate full.