"Will This Work For 40-50 Yr Old Child?": PM Modi's "Joke" On Dyslexia Draws Flak
In a major gaffe, Prime Minister Modi mocked people with dyslexia in a bid to crack a joke directed at Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi. PM Modi was in a live interaction with students who had participated in a competition to find technical solutions to deal with issues related to women and children.
“Will this work for 40-50 yr-old child too?”
On March 2, PM Modi held a video conference for “Smart India Hackathon 2019”. During this conference, an engineering student from Dehradun, Uttarakhand introduced a programme that could potentially help and assist dyslexic children who have reading and writing difficulties. “We have an idea to help dyslexic children, whose pace of learning and writing is very slow. But they have a high intelligence and creativity level as you have seen in movie Taare Zameen Par,” the student said.
The said student was interrupted by PM Modi who proceeded to ask her whether this program “would work for a 40-50-year-old child too?”, in an attempt to pass a jibe at Congress president Rahul Gandhi. The audience, after a brief pause, broke into laughter. The girl to this replied that it would, after which PM Modi went on to say that then this would make mothers of such children “very happy”, a veiled attack at Sonia Gandhi.
Insensitivity of PM Modi draws criticism
Soon after the video went viral, people were quick to point out PM Modi’s insensitivity. Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi, while accused PM Modi of mocking Rahul Gandhi. She tweeted that as per a 2013 report there are 228,994,454 dyslexic students enrolled in recognized schools, which should be a “message for insensitive PM Modi who doesn’t mind mocking them for political point scoring”.
The incidence of dyslexia in India is believed to be 15%. As per a 2013 report, there are 228,994,454 dyslexic students enrolled in recognized schools
This message for an insensitive PM Modi who doesn’t mind mocking them for political point scoring.
Brilliantly done @arvindtm pic.twitter.com/rEQrSxxLpd
— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) March 4, 2019
Former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah too criticised PM Modi and tweeted, “They may be slow in learning but not heartless like you”.
Just came across a video of our @narendramodi taking political potshots using the name of dyslexic people.
Shame on you Modi!!
You just can't go below this. Your insensitivity can't be washed away by dipping in any river. They may be slow in learning but not heartless like you.
— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) March 4, 2019
The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) also slammed the “distasteful” comment and called for an apology.
The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) condemns the disrespectful and insensitive remarks made by @PMOIndia @narendramodi during an interaction with students at the Smart India Hackathon 2019 organised by the India Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee. pic.twitter.com/pPDYVEWyTo
— Venkatesan Mani (@venkatesamani) March 3, 2019
The Logical Indian Take
Holding the office of Prime Minister comes with a great set of responsibility. When we are talking of sensitizing common citizens towards the specially abled, PM of the country making such a remark is definitely a big step backwards. His statement is disrespectful, to say the least, and creates a sense of distrust in everyone in the disability sector. Trying to take political mileage by such distasteful comment reflects very poorly on PM Modi and reflects a very regressive mindset.