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Modi Faces the Wrath of Rights Groups to Simulated Dyslexics

NEW DELHI – Right-wing groups have said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi must apologize to students with disabilities for his insensitive comments at a local institute, United News of India reported Wednesday.
The Indian prime minister asked if a program for dyslexic children could also help a “child between 40 and 50 years old”, in comments that seem to be an attempt to make fun of his political rival Rahul Gandhi.
Dr. Roma Kumar, a clinical psychologist specializing in learning disabilities, says: “When the head of a country speaks in this way, he becomes very, very insensitive, he has to apologize.”
His voice adds weight to the wave of condemnation of Mr. Modi’s comments. In a statement, the defense groups also asked Modi to apologize after he seems to mock dyslexia at a public event, prompting outrage.
Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that can affect reading, writing and spelling. According to a government estimate of 2015, at least 10%, or nearly 35 million Indian children, are dyslexic.
Modi’s controversial comments were reported when an engineering student began talking about his program to the Indian prime minister, who spoke by video link.
“We have an idea to help dyslexic children,” he said, “whose pace of learning and writing is very slow, but they have a high level of intelligence and creativity.”
He then referred to Taare Zameen Par, the successful Bollywood film of 2007, focused on a dyslexic child.
At this point, the Prime Minister interrupted him and asked: “Will this program also work for a child between the ages of 40 and 50?”
But before she could move on, the prime minister spoke again and said: “Then, the mothers of these children will feel very happy.”
Although Mr. Modi did not mention it, it was immediately obvious that he was trying to ridicule Rahul Gandhi, the president of the opposition party, and his mother, Sonia Gandhi, also a politician. India faces imminent elections before the end of May.
According to the groups on the right in India, instead of answering the question, Modi mocked the dyslexia by “pots of points against their political rivals”.
“The [Indian] Prime Minister should not make such a comment … The least that the Prime Minister [Modi] can do is apologize for what he said.”
But the joke seems to have turned against him, since the prime minister was criticized for his comments. Many opposition leaders and citizens have positioned themselves on social networks to criticize him.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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