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Monday, Sep 26, 2022

Discrimination against SC/ST professors and students at AIIMS, says parliamentary committee

The committee noted that despite having “proper eligibility, competence, fully experienced” SC/ST aspirants were not being inducted. Junior residents belonging to SC/ST communities who worked at the hospital on ad-hoc basis were not selected when the posts were being regularised.

The committee also said that it was “not inclined to accept the frequently stereo-type reply of the Government” that no suitable candidate was found because it did not present the correct picture. (File Photo)

Noting biases against candidates from the reserved categories across board at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, a parliamentary committee made recommendations to fill up vacant SC/ST faculty positions, conduct name-blinded evaluation of students, stop outsourcing non-core area workers such as safai karmacharis, drivers, data entry operators, and include SC/ST members in the general body of the institute.

Of the 1,111 faculty positions at the institute, 275 posts for assistant professors and 92 for professors remained vacant at the institute. The committee noted that despite having “proper eligibility, competence, fully experienced” SC/ST aspirants were not being inducted. Junior residents belonging to SC/ST communities who worked at the hospital on ad-hoc basis were not selected when the posts were being regularised.

Hence, the committee said that the vacant posts must be filled within the next three months. “No faculty seat reserved for SC/ST shall be kept vacant for more than six months under any circumstances,” the committee said, adding that the union health ministry must submit an action plan within three months of the report being presented in both houses of the parliament.

The committee also said that it was “not inclined to accept the frequently stereo-type reply of the Government” that no suitable candidate was found because it did not present the correct picture. SC/ST candidates who are equally bright and deserving are declared “not suitable” because of biased assessment, the committee said. To resolve the issue, the committee said that the selection committee of the institute can comprise of SC/ST experts and chairman.

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When it comes to super-speciality fields, the committee noted that no reservation was extended to SC/ST members consequently them not being able to enter the courses, “resulting in … monopoly of the unreserved faculty members in the super-specialty fields.” The committee said that the reservation policy must apply to super-speciality fields as well and mechanisms should be set up to allow SC/ST candidates to go abroad for speciality training.

The committee also noted that the overall percentage of admission of SCs and STs in MBBS and other undergraduate courses and also post-graduate courses in various AIIMS are far below the required level of 15 percent for SC and 7.5 per cent for ST.

The committee also noted that SC/ST candidates fared well in theory papers but failed in the practical of the three professional exams. “This clearly underlines the biasness towards SC/ST students.” The parliamentary committee stated that SC/ST faculty members must be part of the process and examiners not be allowed to ask the names of the students to judge which community the student belongs to. “In fact, in order to solve these unfair assessments all students should be allowed to appear in exam using a fictitious code number only,” the committee said.

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The dean examination has also been asked to examine cases of such students and submit a comprehensive report to the director general of health services for any further actions.

The committee also noted that there were no SC/ST candidates in the general body of AIIMS, which it said, “deprive SCs/STs of their legitimate rights to be part of the decision making process and policy matters and also to protect the interests of SCs and STs in service matters.” The committee said SC/ST members must be present in the general body for representation.

“The Committee recommend that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and AIIMS collectively should made sincere efforts in resolving complaints and grievances of SC/ST faculty members, employees/students upto their satisfaction.”

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In addition, the committee felt that outsourcing or hiring people on contractual basis for the lower posts and non-core area jobs like safai karmacharis, drivers, data entry operators, deprived many SC/ST persosn “living in deplorable conditions” of a respectable livelihood. As such in contractual appointment, there is no reservation policy followed which is against the DoPT guidelines…. the policy of contractual appointment creates scope for exploitation of the downtrodden classes through these contractors.”

The committee recommended that the government evolve mechanisms to check the exploitation of underprivileged from any class or category. And, asked that the parliamentary committee be informed of the steps taken.

First published on: 26-07-2022 at 07:15:47 pm
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