More than a decade ago, Aamir Khan’s Taare Zameen Par, a saga of a boy with dyslexia — a condition characterised by learning difficulties — not just created awareness, but also attempted to remove the stigma associated with the condition. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with his remark on dyslexia, during an interaction at the ‘Smart India Hackathon 2019’ on March 2 with an engineering student from Dehradun, has turned the spotlight on the condition.
The student was talking about a project that would help dyslexic children. In an apparent reference to Rahul Gandhi, Modi asked the student if her project would help 40-50-year-old children too.
It was meant to be a putdown of Rahul Gandhi but had the effect of making fun of dyslexics. A few weeks ago, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, while intending to cast doubts on Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi’s ability, said she was bipolar. US President Donald Trump made fun of a reporter who has a movement disorder. By invoking health conditions to belittle their opponents, politicians reinforce the stigma associated with the conditions and trivialize them, say experts.