- PM Modi interacted with students participating in 'Smart India Hackathon'
- Engineering student tells PM Modi about app to help dyslexic children
- He makes a joke, allegedly aimed at Rahul Gandhi, triggering outrage
Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced searing criticism on social media on Sunday as a video clip showing him cracking a joke on dyslexia allegedly at the expense of Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi was widely shared on Twitter. The Prime Minister made the joke during an interaction that was beamed live to thousands of students participating in a competition to find technology-driven solutions to tackle issues related to women and children.
During the video conference for 'Smart India Hackathon 2019' on Saturday night, an engineering student from Dehradun told the Prime Minister about a program that could help dyslexic children who face reading and writing difficulties.
She said, "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 the movie Taare Zameen Par..."
It is at this point that the Prime Minister interrupted the student and asked a question.
"Will this program work for a 40-50 year old child too?" PM Modi asked, drawing laughter from the students.
As he took a step back to let the punch line sink in, many broke into guffaws and applause.
Prompted by her peers, the student with the microphone replied: "Yes sir, it will work."
But PM Modi wasn't done yet.
"Then that will make the mothers of such children very happy," he said, to another round of laughter.
The exchange was severely criticised on social media, including by members of the opposition.
Just came across a video of our @narendramodi taking political potshots using the name of dyslexic people.— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) March 4, 2019
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.
Shameful and distressing. Some of us have dyslexic or disabled relatives, friends, children and parents. Sattar saal mein pehli baar, a person with this crassness occupies the chair of the PM. Enough, Mr Modi. Yeh hain sanskar aapke? https://t.co/8wBvtjPy7q- Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) March 3, 2019
Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disorders that affects 3-7% people, (traits in upto 17-20%). It is genetic (heritable) that affects reading, writing & hence learning skills but not a marker for intelligence. Poor judgement by the PM to mock a neurological condition pic.twitter.com/lJczhocUYV- Dr. Sumaiya Shaikh (@Neurophysik) March 3, 2019
Cant believe. PRIME MINISTER making fun of Dyslexia !!https://t.co/uj8OmUi3eO- Vinod Kapri (@vinodkapri) March 2, 2019
A member of a lynch mob will be the most likely candidate to mock at dyslexia or any other mental challenge- Sid (@sidmtweets) March 3, 2019
I would really recommend they consult a psychiatrist- especially if they have access to powerful weapons
The Prime Minister of India keeping it classy as ever. Cracking a joke about dyslexia to target a political opponent. pic.twitter.com/qLoQMwKxVH- Pratik Sinha (@free_thinker) March 3, 2019
God! When we thought @narendramodi cd not go any lower, he still manages to stoop.- Preeti Sharma Menon (@PreetiSMenon) March 3, 2019
As a parent I do not want my kid to listen to a speaker who'd use dyslexia as a slur and here our Prime Minister uses dyslexia to insult @RahulGandhi
This is wrong on so many levels!!! https://t.co/gQ2IZVvY0m
Using 'dyslexia' to mock political opponent & his mother, in front of students. This guy belongs in the "International Hall of Shame" https://t.co/04i6EcDdDW- Sasidharan Pazhoor (@inquestioner) March 3, 2019
Leonardo Da Vinci,Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso,Lee Kuan Yew, Alexander Graham Bell,Tom Cruise and many great men & women were all believed to be dyslexic & look what they made of their lives. Mocking differently abled people marks a new low in our political discourse.#Dyslexiahttps://t.co/H2Y747zGid- Sumanth Raman (@sumanthraman) March 3, 2019
By making fun of Specific Learning Disabilities, our PM has just reinforced a stereotype. Sadly, it happened at “World's biggest open innovation model” (as per HRD Minister). In a display of insensitive portrayal, the entire audience erupted in laughter. #Dyslexia#SIH2019 1/n https://t.co/YU3Lw6q4qo- Dr Satendra Singh, MD (@drsitu) March 3, 2019
Making fun of Dyslexia to target political opponent. There is no low which is too Low for Narendra Modi. Worse are the students who were clapping but cant blame them. When the PM of the Nation is such a Cheap Man, they had to entertain him pic.twitter.com/bJ7apIlpup- Joy (@Joydas) March 3, 2019
BJP leaders have frequently attacked Congress president Rahul Gandhi over his faux pas, often painting him as immature or slow. The Prime Minister has himself lashed out at the Congress chief for being "childish" after he hugged him in parliament at the end of an impassioned debate last year.
The Goa unit of the student wing of the Congress, National Students' Union of India, has complained against PM Modi to President Ram Nath Kovind, the United Nations and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for allegedly discriminating dyslexic children.
(With inputs from ANI)