The SKILL INDIA advertisement featuring Sachin Tendulkar credits skill at the expense of dignity.
One sees Sachin sit on a chair while the carpenter sits on the floor as they talk and have tea. Why could both not be shown sitting on a chair and talking?
Apart from skill, personhood carries value too. Why hold anyone down whether skilled or not?
A patronising attitude carries an arrogance of superiority which shifts attention to the symbolic generosity of a patron from the worth of the patronised and re-enforces the very inequality which it pretends to redress.
And if an ascribed status will continue despite achievement, as the advertisement suggests, what merit will inculcation of skill attain?
The advertisement presents status as an entrenched power and fails to present skill as being versatile.
Skill is meant to be assertive and itinerant unlike status which is inhibitive and immobile. The advertisement focusses on the status of the carpenter not his skill.
Skill is dynamic unlike status which is sterile and moribund. Yet it is precisely that which the last shot of the advertisement displays.
Skill has to be achieved but any effort in this direction will be futile unless there is a corresponding correction in attitude.
It is the right attitude (Tendulkar making the other sit on the chair) alone which can facilitate social mobility (symbolised in the carpenter also so sitting) to improve our cultural capital (recognition of the innate worth of a human being aside from skill trumping status) and unravel the social stratification which the advertisement puts on display.