#India-Delhi HC intervenes to see SC/ST students clear an MBBS paper


Jitender Gupta
Pushed around Dr Manish (standing) and other SC/ST students of VMCC
Society: discrimination
The Drona Syndrome
It takes Delhi HC to see SC/ST students clear an MBBS paper
The Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College is considered one of the best medical colleges in India. It is located in the national capital and its teaching hospital is the well-known Safdarjung Hospital. From all accounts, it’s also a place that needs to completely overhaul its prejudices. Twenty-five students of the college, all belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/STs), have had to move the Delhi High Court in sheer frustration, having repeatedly failed exams because of alleged discrimination. Teachers don’t seem to take the students’ grievances seriously: one teacher told Bhalchandra Mungekar, ex-Planning Commission member and MP, who headed a commission of inquiry into the complaints, that some  failures were because of “typographical mistakes”. Attitudes are unlikely to change soon. “The authorities mock us as ‘court batch’ students,” says Dr Manish, one of those who filed the case. “We continue to face a hostile atmosphere in college.”

Mungekar’s report to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, finalised after a series of meetings between the aggrieved students and the college authorities, held between February and June this year, gives an account of the troubles these students were put through. “Most of the active energy of these students is diverted and wasted in fighting such injustice,” says the report, a copy of which is with Outlook. “It leaves them frustrated, sometimes compelling them to give up studies midway. Occasionally, it even forces them to end their life.”

***

Damned spots!


The report of the Bhalchandra Mungekar (above) finds fault with the principal and other faculty members of VMMC.

***

The report focused on one college, but the bias probably exists in most colleges across India; what is shocking, though, is its existence in premier institutions offering professional courses such as those in medicine, engineering, business management, law and so on. In March, Anil Kumar Meena, an ST student of the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)—just a few minutes’ walk from Vardhaman Medical College—had committed suicide. Inability to cope with English, and also with how SC/ST students were looked upon by teachers and fellow students, was blamed. Tragic examples of this sort are not hard to find in colleges across the country.

The Mungekar report, though, was prompted by what one set of SC/ST students went through at one college. It’s a harrowing ordeal. Of the 35 SC/ST students admitted to the 2004-09 MBBS batch at Vardhaman Medical College, 25 hadn’t cleared the physiology exam even by July 2010, having failed repeatedly. Physiology is a pre-clinical subject, normally cleared in two semesters in the first one-and-a-half years of admission to the course. These students took a supplementary exam in October 2010—and again failed to clear it, despite having passed in other subjects. Failure in the October 2010 test meant they lost another year. The report says SC/ST students made between four and 13 attempts at passing physiology; eight failed despite 4-9 attempts and left the course; 24 have not yet passed despite 2-8 attempts. In contrast, not one general category student failed the physiology exams held in 2007, 2008 and 2009. In the same years, 15, 14 and 25 SC/ST students failed in the subject.

The students had written to the vice-chancellor of the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, to which the college is affiliated. They had also approached the college authorities, and finding their supplications ignored, used the Right to Information Act (RTI) to find out why they’d failed repeatedly. “All this points to discrimination by design against these students,” says Mungekar, who has also recommended that the students be paid `10 lakh each in compensation for the discrimination they had been made to suffer.

“It must be emphasised that the hostility of the college authorities towards SC/ST students is found to be so strong that the latter always had to approach the information commission with applications under RTI,” says the report. The report also wants Dr Shobha Das, the director, professor and head of the department of physiology, suspended under the Prevention of Atrocities Act of 1978. Das was the one who put forth the “typographical mistake” explanation.

The commission was shocked at the casual manner adopted by the college authorities. An RTI application revealed that one student, Rajeev Kumar Meena of the 2007 batch, had obtained seven marks for the theory part and 11 for the practicals in the July 2010 exam. But the results said he’d scored six and eight marks respectively. He was failed. Das, the physiology department head, claims to have tried to have the error rectified but  the college had already declared the results so it was in vain. No action was taken against Das for the mistake either.

The students had nowhere to go. The college does have a liaison officer to look specifically into the grievances of SC/ST students, but he didn’t care to record their complaints. The report notes that the principal, Dr V.K. Sharma, wasn’t even aware there was such a liaison officer. Sharma himself proved to be of little help; it was when he failed to address the students’ grievances that they approached the court, which ordered the college to allow the failed students to attend class. The college authorities brazenly ignored the order for a year till the students’ counsel reminded them.

The court’s observation is telling: “We’ll be failing in our duty if we do not deal with the submissions of the students, who belong to a different stratum of society, and are facing a hostile atmosphere because they have approached us…” Later, on a court order dated July 8, 2011, the students took a supplementary exam in physiology, conducted by the Army College of Medical Sciences, Delhi, under close supervision of the court and in a supportive atmosphere. Many of the students who had been failing in physiology since 2004 passed this time. The ending was not so happy, actually—for in addition to all the extra-curricular efforts they had to take to fight the discrimination, it must be remembered that the students ended up having to attend classes with a fresh batch, losing a year anyway.

As Mungekar observed, “The casual manner in which the college authorities treated this matter not only shows indifference but also the contempt they have for SC/ST students.” Some of the students, it must be noted here, were even forced to drop out in the face of such behaviour. Sadly, the Mungekar committee’s findings about prejudices against SC/ST students—and a lack of willingness to address special needs any group might have—could well apply to many colleges across the country. However high they may stand in the rankings.

India -How casteist is our varsity? #discrimination #education


 

RAHI GAIKWAD, The Hindu, Oct 3.2012

Discrimination: Arrogance in urban areas kills their confidence. Photo: V.V. Krishnan

The HinduDiscrimination: Arrogance in urban areas kills their confidence. Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Caste discrimination takes on insidious forms in higher education institutions across the country, according to a report

When 35 medical students — all Scheduled Caste candidates — failed en masse in the same subject — Physiology — they cried foul. Delhi’s Vardhman Mahavir Medical College, where they were studying, turned a deaf ear to their grievances, according to a recently-released report by Rajya Sabha MP Bhalchandra Mungekar, who was appointed commissioner of enquiry by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes to probe the two-year-old matter.

The damning report unequivocally concluded that the college, affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi, practised caste discrimination.

“For the first time, a report has named the names. I have recommended four names for suspension and the invoking of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,” Mr. Mungekar told The Hindu over the phone.

He said that in the rarefied, erudite spaces of higher learning, caste-discrimination is covert. You see no killing or rape. No beatings or burning of houses. What you see are student suicides, failures, degrees delayed for years on end. He cited the case of a PhD student at an IIT who was not given his degree for nine years as he was vocal about Dalit issues.

The suicide of Anil Meena from a Rajasthan village, who was the second topper in the Scheduled Tribe category at the all-India medical entrance test, is well-known.

Discrimination in higher education is a “very serious” issue, Mr. Mungekar said. “It stems from the strong bias that SCs and STs are getting easy admission devoid of merit and just because of reservation. As higher and technical education gets privatised, the General category students feel that the reserved seats are an encroachment on their privileges. There is a conflict of privileges. In institutions like the IITs, SC/ST students are looked at and treated differently. Forget about extra cooperation, institutions don’t even give normal cooperation. SC/ST students are from a different background. Many come from rural areas and are first generation learners. The arrogance in urban areas kills their confidence.”

Questioning the notion of merit, often bandied about in bastions of higher education, Anoop Kumar of the Delhi-based Insight Foundation pointed to the sheer inability of varsities to handle student diversity. Speaking at a recent seminar at Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), he gave an instance of the suicide of an adivasi student from the Lambada community, studying in IIT Kanpur. He had failed in all the subjects.

“How can an institution not be able to deal with a situation where a student is failing in all the subjects? That means there is a crisis. A student is failing, not attending class and nobody is bothered. There have been around nine suicides at IIT Kanpur in the past four years – seven SC/ST and two General students. The administration’s response has been that the student was not able to deal with the rigour of academics. In a tragedy too, institutions talk of ‘merit.’ This is a perverted claim of merit.”

The system, he felt, was “brutal” not just to Dalit students alone, but to all students. There was, therefore, a need to challenge the idea of merit itself. “The claim of merit depends on the difference of some six percentage points. Places like the IITs are where the upper castes derive their claims of merit.”

A reserved category student from an elite institute told The Hindu, “There is no caste based discrimination (in my institute) as of now. But as a backward category student, you are expected to work harder. If you don’t then professors look down upon you. In the friend circle, once you have been labelled a ‘lukkha’ (loafer), people exploit you. Not because of caste, but because of your behaviour and caste plays a huge role in behaviour. People from the backward class usually have low self esteem, partly because of inferiority in caste and partly because of inferiority in rank (or) merit.”

He also felt that ‘bias’ was a poor word to define the experiences of Dalit students in higher education. A student is unable to fight institutionalised hostility and indifference.

TISS researcher Suryakant Waghmare said discrimination in higher education was “invisible, polite, but absolute.” There was a need to “study caste where there is no caste and the normality of violence.” In urban areas, mutated forms of caste atrocities or discrimination have not even been identified.

Mr. Kumar recalled how a Delhi court, hearing complaints of Dalit students had declared on day one that caste did not exist in urban India. The paper, ‘Spaces of Discrimination – Residential Segregation in Indian Cities’ by Trina Vithayathil and Gayatri Singh (Economic and Political Weekly), easily dispels such a notion. The study found “high levels of residential segregation by caste in India’s seven largest metro cities.”

 

Probe finds discrimination against SC/ST students in Delhi medical college


, TNN | Sep 24, 2012
NEW DELHI: A comprehensive enquiry by Bhalchandra Mungekar, Rajya Sabha MP, has found blatant caste-based discrimination against SC/ST students in Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi.

Mungekar, who was appointed commissioner of enquiry by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, apart from making wide-ranging recommendations, has suggested that Rs 10 lakh be paid as compensation to student Manish and others towards court and other expenses. “The mental trauma that they were/are made to undergo is not measurable in terms of money,” Mungekar said in his report.

He also demanded legal action under Prevention of Atrocities against SCs/STs Act against former principal V K Sharma, head of physiology department Shobha Das, principal Jayashree Bhattacharjee and Raj Kapoor, professor of physiology and a liaison officer for “resorting to caste-based discrimination and neglecting the duties assigned to them, not by omissions, but by commissions”.

The case relates to 35 SC students who appeared for the first professional examination in July 2010 and failed in the subject of physiology. Twenty-five of them failed again in the same subject despite the fact that many passed in other subjects. Mungekar said when students tried to meet college authorities, they were not entertained and had to resort to RTI to get information.

It was found that one student’s marks in physiology was shown lesser in the marksheet than what he had actually got. But, he said, no action was taken against the head of the department Shobha Das who said it was a typographical error. Even liaison officer Raj Kapoor refused to entertain them.

Students who failed in physiology requested the then principal V K Sharma to allow them to attend classes for the second year but were refused. The students went to Delhi High Court which allowed them to attend classes but the college took a long time to implement the order. As a result, most of them did not have requisite attendance. Students again approached the HC requesting that they be allowed to take supplementary examination.

They were allowed and most of them passed as the examination was conducted in the Army College of Medical Sciences under close supervision of the court. But it was a short reprieve as Sharma forced them to attend classes with the fresh batch. “They were again to lose one more year,” Mungekar said.

Students were not permitted to appear for the examination to be held in November 2011. Again, Delhi HC intervened and asked the college to take students who had cleared supplementary in second year and factor in their attendance. But the college did not relent. More shocking was the revelation that four students of general category, detained for inadequate attendance, were allowed to take the examination. Mungekar met the vice-chancellor and requested him to explore all possibilities but a decision is awaited.

 

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,228 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,841,169 hits

Archives

May 2021
M T W T F S S
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  
%d bloggers like this: