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May 08, 2007

If There is Such Discrimination in India's Premier Institute . . .

In the wake of the agitation launched by Upper Caste students against giving reservation to Backward Caste students, a government-appointed committee has delivered its report on the All India Medical Institute, the country's premiere institute which trains medical doctors.

Leaving aside the politics of the agitation by students of AIIMS, the truly condemning part of this report is the how the Dalit and Backward Caste students feel they are being treated by upper caste students and lecturers. The percentage of lower caste students who report discrimination in such a top Institute underlines the prejudice that runs deep in educational institutions across the nation. The educational institution at the school, and at the graduate and tertiary levels is the place where an integrated and caste free community can be built. If it does not happen here, it will not happen elsewhere.

This is the reason why we need a new model, a new initiative of primary and secondary schools that create caste free communities, while giving the Dalits and Backward Castes a quality education in English and mother tongue which thus far has been available only to the rich and upper caste students. It is about creating an equal opportunity wherein the depressed caste students have the same opportunity to compete with other students at the graduate and higher levels of education.

The Dalit Freedom Network has helped start nearly 60 such schools and is moving towards the first 100 and then towards the first 1,000 institutions that will make a difference in the lives of millions of children who will know that God has created all men and women equal.

Enclosed find the newspaper article from ‘The Hindu’ on discrimination at AIIMS.

URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2007/05/06/stories/2007050609700100.htm

`AIIMS Director Venugopal played provocative role in anti-quota stir'

By Aarti Dhar

Charge by Thorat Committee in report submitted to Union Health Minister

NEW DELHI: The three-member Thorat Committee constituted by the Centre in September last year to look into allegations of discrimination against reserved category students at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here has charged its Director P. Venugopal with "playing a provocative role" in the origination of the agitation against 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes in elite Central education institutions.

The committee, headed by University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairperson S. K. Thorat, submitted its report to Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Anbumani Ramadoss on Saturday.

The report also suggests that the anti-quota agitation was "planned" by a group of people who had strong views against the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admissions) Act, 2006 (then Bill). The members in their report claim they have enough evidence to support their findings.

According to the report, AIIMS became the venue for the so-called anti-quota agitation primarily to paralyse health care for thousands of people and attract public attention against reservation. Paralysis of emergency services would also put pressure on the Government to withdraw the [then] proposed Bill, it says. The report says the AIIMS administration went to the extent of penalising and punishing the students and staff who did not support the agitation while questioning the credibility and role of the Youth for Equality - a student body that spearheaded the agitation.

The voluminous report says the AIIMS administration failed to ensure safeguards for weaker sections of society guaranteed under the Constitution like undergraduate programmes and special coaching for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes students.

It also says that the conduct of the faculty towards the SC/ST students was not fair and objective and the teachers often "misused" their powers given to them for internal assessment.

As many as 69 per cent of the reserved category students alleged that they did not receive adequate support from teachers, 72 per cent said they faced discrimination, and 76 per cent said their evaluation was not proper while 82 per cent said they often got less than expected marks.

In practical examinations and viva voce, these students said, the treatment meted out to them was "not fair". Worse, 76 per cent said higher caste faculty members enquired about the castes of their students while 84 per cent said they were asked, directly or indirectly, about their caste backgrounds. An equal percentage of students alleged that their grading was adversely affected due to their background.

The reserved category students also alleged "social isolation" at various levels, including even from faculty members, with 84 per cent students saying they faced violence and segregation in the hostel that often forced them to shift to hostels No. 4 and 5 where there was a concentration of SC/ST students.

The Thorat Committee has recommended that a committee of students, residents and faculty be set up to examine and study social divisions on the campus and suggest measures to remedy the situation. The two other members of the Committee are K. M. Shyam Prasad, Vice-President of the National Board of Examinations, and R. K. Srivastava, Director-General of Health Services.

© Copyright 2000 - 2006 The Hindu

Posted by klajja at May 8, 2007 11:11 PM

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Dear Dr.D'Ssouza,

The discrimination goes beyond what can be imagined. There has to be a sustained pressure on the government and the civil society to recognise this disease and eliminate it. Many ahnd should join to fight this evil.

Dr.KM Shyamprasad

Posted by: KM Shyamprasad at May 12, 2007 10:02 AM

hi, caste in academia is evaluated and confirmed at AIIMS, the premier MEDICAL institute of INDIA. A report by SK Thorat has been submitted to Minister of Health and Family Welfare and the governing body members of AIIMS.
what Dr.Sukhbir Singh Badhal suffered at AIIMS is totally unacceptable. If such incidents are happening even now in the 21st century, that too in a premier medical institute like AIIMS, one can only imagine the plight of other medical colleges. why i am stressing the medical college more is, doctors are taught how to look at humanity as a whole while treating patients. if a doctor like Dr P Venugopal the Director who is spreading hatred and casteism in the institute, how can he treat his patients impartially. probably he has asked his patients about their caste first before treating them and decided the medicines accordingly. it is a shame that such things still happen. an universal phenomenon in INDIA atleast is that for every one such incident reported, thousands go unreported
one incident i just read in todays newspaper, not exactly about caste in academia, is about a dalit women killed on a "missing cow" row in a village in gaya. why do such things keep happening when we r busy blaming "creamy layer" garnering jobs and seats in educational institutions. does it not translate that for every individual from dalit community who gets educated and lands in a good job, will bring up atleast 2 -3 of the downtrodden around him (at least inspire him).
Friends, untill we take care to see majority are literate and leading a decent lifestyle, we cannot make INDIA strong. we will remain our own slaves in fact worse that the british rule.

Posted by: Dr rajesh at May 20, 2007 01:42 PM

Dear Dr.D'Ssouza
The news story "AIIMS faculty member cries caste bias" in Times of India 25 Sep 2007, gives another more serious and harmful dimension to this caste problem in All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.
Till now we have been talking about oppurtunity for higher education and oppurtunity for getting jobs. But this news tells that even if some people manage to get through all the hurdles and join such Institutes, their problems are not over. In fact this news tells that the problems just get murkier.
An assistant professor of the radiotherapy department, Dr Suman Bhasker has written a letter to the SC Commission alleging caste discrimination by her colleagues. The commission has already summoned some of the administrators of AIIMS in this connection. These included the director, P Venugopal and the department HoD Dr G K Rath. Dr Bhasker said that her trouble began towards the end of May this year when she was identified as a sympathiser of the pro-reservation group.
It seems they are feeling threatened by the rise of Dr Bhasker and they want to create as many difficulties for her as possible. Do they want to scare away Dalits from AIIMS????

Posted by: Paresh at October 21, 2007 04:06 PM

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