Monday, 30th October 2017

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‘Insensitive’ Modi missed a chance: Artist

Assam painter condemns PM’s chuckle, throws light on dyslexia

By Gaurav Das in Guwahati
  • Published 6.03.19, 12:55 AM
  • Updated 6.03.19, 12:55 AM
  • a min read
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Mehnaz Ummeid Ali Sharma Bhorali The Telegraph picture

Hyderabad–based Assamese artist Mehnaz Ummeid Ali Sharma Bhorali, who had launched an online petition to provide free training programmes to understand dyslexia in schools across the country two years back, has termed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s chuckle over an engineering student’s project related to dyslexia as “unfortunate, unwarranted for and tragic”.

Bhorali, who suffered from dyscalculia as a student, said the leader of the world’s largest democracy should first be equipped in knowing what dyslexia is, instead of breaking into a chuckle targeting someone else.

On Saturday, during the video interaction that was part of Smart India Hackathon, a BTech student was explaining to Modi about her project related to people with dyslexia. Modi interrupted her and asked the student whether her idea could help any 40 or 50-year-old child and instantly broke into a chuckle.

“This is utterly tragic and unfortunate on the part of our Prime Minister to behave in such a manner. The engineering student was trying to make Modi understand her noble project that one day would help people with dyslexia. Instead, Modi behaved in a callous manner that not only made the engineering student feel uncomfortable, but also led the other students in the hall to have a hearty laugh. In our society, there is still little awareness about dyslexia and if Modi had grabbed that opportunity and shown little respect to the engineering student’s project it would have created positive results and such people would have at least be encouraged,” Bhorali said.

The artist’s petition two years back drew some 100-plus signatories but somehow couldn’t reach the mark and according to her, the people somehow missed the opportunity in understanding the issue or the concept of dyslexia.

“The government didn’t respond to the petition. But that did not deter me and I can now say that I at least tried. My conditions did not stop me from achieving my true calling — art and painting. People should realise that children with learning disabilities can excel like any other children,” she said.

Modi’s antics at the event drew widespread criticism. The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD), which is a national body campaigning for the rights of the disabled, condemned the “disrespectful and insensitive remarks” and said its state affiliates would file complaints against Modi for “mocking people with dyslexia”.