Demand for an Unconditional Apology from Narendra Modi for Insulting People with Dyslexia

Demand for an Unconditional Apology from Narendra Modi for Insulting People with Dyslexia

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Anjali Mental Health Rights Organization started this petition to The Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi


Prime Minister Narendra Modi making a mockery of children suffering from dyslexia at a recent event at IIT Kharagpur, is not just in bad taste, but takes our fight for diminishing the stigma on disability many decades back. “Dyslexic children are those whose learning and writing pace is very slow, but creativity level and intelligence are quite good,” a student said, citing the example of Bollywood movie Taare Zameen Par. This was when Modi interjected to ask her, “Will your scheme help a kid who is 40-50 years old?” What was even more disheartening was the fact that his statement invited a huge applause from the audience present there. Modi then went on to say, “In which case, the mother of such kids would be very happy.”

 

At a time when organisations and communities are fighting relentlessly to diminish the stigma on disabilities - both visible and invisible - it is absolutely deplorable, contemptible, and shabby of the Prime Minister of a country to make such a remark.


Dyslexia is a learning disability that is estimated to affect around 10% of children in India. According to the Times of India, Jan 22, 2013, there are 228,994,454 students enrolled in recognised schools, which brings the count of dyslexic Indian children to nearly 35 million already. However, the awareness around dyslexia, or systems to support persons suffering from it are overwhelmingly sparse, to say the least.

 

Despite so many evidences and glaring facts, we fail as a nation, as people, and as communities – when we choose to not only ignore the struggles of persons with dyslexia and other disabilities, but also make mockery out of them.


What we ask:


Is it because most people struggling with disabilities are often denied the right to exercise vote (among other forms of autonomy), and therefore do not constitute Modi’s vote bank? Are they not a part of the idea of Bharat, propagated by the current government and its allies? Does Modi consider the effect his remark might have on someone struggling with a disability every day of their lives? Does his idea of Bharat comprise just places, and not people?

 

What we demand:


According to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, (2016), intentionally insulting or intimidating with intent to humiliate a person with disability in any place within public view is a punishable offence. This makes it an imperative for at least an unconditional public apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for pushing the already marginalised people further towards the margins, for normalising the mockery of disabilities in front of young and impressionable minds - thereby encouraging them to do the same. Lastly, for shamelessly making use of the vulnerability of millions of people for his own political gains.

 

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