In a discussion held at AIIMS on caste discrimination in higher education institutes, a senior woman doctor from the hospital spoke about how she was allegedly discriminated against by the head of a department over the last few years. Sharing her experience with a group of educationists and health experts at the event organised by the AIIMS Front for Social Consciousness, she narrated instances where she experienced bias from seniors.
“I have been troubled many times by the HOD but I never gave up. Every time she tried to push me back, I used to come back with a greater force. You have to keep fighting. Even after years of discrimination, I am still standing here and will continue to do so,” she said.
The administration, however, denied having knowledge of any such case. “I am not aware of any such case. At AIIMS, we have various committees to look into such issues. Based on their recommendations, actions are being taken,” Sanjeev Lalwani, the AIIMS registrar, told The Indian Express.
People from other medical and educational institutes also spoke about their experiences. Experts, including doctors from AIIMS, raised questions on the country’s education system during the event, organised after the death of 26-year-old Dr Payal Tadvi, a second-year PG student of T N Topiwala National Medical College in Mumbai, who committed suicide allegedly after being harassed by seniors.
“The movement has started from Rohith Vemula and reached Dr Payal Tadvi. This is not an incident but an indication. Such incidents are leading to an institutional crisis and in the coming days, most of you will be protesting against such cases. People working in these institutes, such as IITs and AIIMS, are scientific in their labs but orthodox in their lives,” said Prof. Ratan Lal from Hindu College.
The event, scheduled for May 13, had to be postponed after the hospital administration added certain conditions before granting permission. The event, earlier called ‘Ambedkar’s views on social relations: Caste discrimination in institutions of higher learning’, was tweaked to ‘Deliberating caste discrimination in higher education: How many Payals will it take for us to rise?’.
“The event was scheduled for May 13 earlier and had it been conducted that day, maybe the message could have reached her (Payal). She might have changed her mind then. She was let down by the system. The framework of the Constitution, legislation and administration failed to help her when she needed it the most. It seems like the Constitution does not exist for certain people,” said Prof L R Murmu, working with emergency medicine (surgery) at AIIMS.
Prof. Atul Sood from JNU said: “If you look at the larger process of discrimination and institutional discrimination in this country, what we are experiencing today for the last 25-30 years is distinctly new and different from what was happening in the past.”
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