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Letter to BS: Modi's joke on dyslexia would offend the differently-abled

The typical difference between winning and losing is 15 per cent and typically 20 per cent of voters are PWD who will benefit from the election process being made barrier-free

Business Standard 

Last week, Sachin Mampatta, a Business Standard journalist, contacted (DRA) to talk to a preferably Person with Disability (PWD) member on how the big hype in the press, over the recent elections being rendered disabled- friendly, measures up against the ground reality. The advocacy of the rights of PWD by DRA is apparently credible, going by the newspaper’s desire to seek their opinion; and I am understandably proud to be a member of DRA, in fact the one asked to talk to the journalist. After talking to me, Mampatta wrote a piece “Voting is an obstacle course for persons with disabilities” (April 26) on how one wheelchair using mathematician (me) viewed the ground reality. (He said basically that I could cast my vote only due to my driver’s help.)

I later learnt that he was asking, more pertinently, if making the entire election process more accessible to PWD, might affect the outcome of the election. The simple arithmetic he proposed was to compare typical margins between winning and losing in our elections, with the proportion of PWD who would be able to cast their vote in a barrier-free electoral process. The typical difference between winning and losing is 15 per cent and typically 20 per cent of voters are PWD who will benefit from the election process being made barrier-free. I’d say to Mampatta: IF you show any PWD (in fact, any reasonably sensitive person) a video of Prime Minister making “jokes”, of very dubious taste, about children afflicted with dyslexia, that was (a) on social media a few weeks back, (b) deleted after many people commented on how shameful and in poor taste it was for the PM to mock dyslexic people, but (c) but not deleted before @RoshanKrRoy thankfully preserved it on Twitter and made it possible for anyone to reload and see the video; then that person will almost surely vote for anybody other than Modi, thereby giving more credibility to Mampatta’s conjecture.

V S Sunder, Chennai


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First Published: Mon, May 06 2019. 01:11 IST
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