Caste virus in Safdarjung Medical College: Not a NEW decease!!
Allegations against institute, affiliated to Safdarjung Hospital, of discriminatory behaviour against reserved category students While the government claims to be trying to right the wrongs of past years by ushering in quota and reservation in myriad forms in education and employment, stray incidents reported from time to time raise doubts over the efficacy of the whole process.
Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College affiliated to Safdarjung Hospital is in the eye of a storm. Fle pic One of the city’s premier hospitals is now under the scanner for alleged caste bias. According to a recent report collated by a forum of leading doctors, a large number of students at Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College (VMMC), affiliated to the prestigious Safdarjung Hospital, have been facing problems of casteism. According to students, the Department of Physiology has been failing students on a yearly basis allegedly because they are from the reserved category. A large number of them are yet to pass the examinations. Highly-placed sources at the hospital say, institutionalised casteism exists at the level of the department of physiology and at the college. Statistics provided suggest that reserved category students who performed well at the time of entry into the college do well in other subjects but fare poorly in Physiology. “It is true that the results of the Physiology examinations were disproportionately harsh on a select category of students,” said a senior faculty member from the Physiology department on the condition of anonymity. Last resort The students from VMMC then approached Forum for Rights and Equality (FRE), an organisation working under All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), to probe the matter. The forum requested four senior faculty members from AIIMS and Lok Nayak Hospital to conduct a preliminary inquiry into reports of high and discriminatory failure rate in Physiology at VMMC. A copy of the report is exclusively with MiD DAY. “The students came to us with their problems. All the accusations by the students are true and we have sent this report to various commissions to step into the matter. Based on the discussions the fact-finding team felt that there is a need for a thorough inquiry of the charges of casteism and callousness towards students’ future at VMMC,” said Professor LR Murmu, President, Forum for Rights and Equality. According to students, only those from reserved categories have failed in the examinations, many of them failed repeatedly. They have been failing the students every year. Surprisingly, there were no failures at the Army College of Medical Sciences, which is under the same university, as there is no reservation policy,” added a faculty member. Different rules The report prepared by Forum for Rights and Equality also mentioned the following points in favour of existing casteism. “The attendance sheet circulated by the departments has often mentioned the category of the students. The admission process of the college involves counselling of reserved category students on a different day from other students. As a result the roll numbers of these students are grouped together (separately from others). The coding of answer sheets by the university to anonym the examination process may protect individual identity but it does not guarantee the protection of group identity of reserved category students as the roll numbers of students are grouped,” the report says. The team also noted that a student was failed thrice by just one mark in an examination that does not follow objective marking. According to students, disparaging comments were passed about individual students by the faculty and tutors in the Physiology department throughout the year. “Faculty members used to pass comments regarding our family background. We tried to ignore them. Also, faculty members and higher officials were callous to the needs of the students who had failed the examinations,” said a student who wished to remain anonymous. ‘Test case’ Despite regular complaints by students, the Principal of the college refused to talk to students after the declaration of 2010 supplementary examination results.”The internal assessments cannot be revised according to university rules. The faculty of the department of Physiology organised classes for students before the supplementary examinations but the students did not come to attend classes. Students were failing because of low attendance,” said Professor VK Sharma, Principal, VMMC. Meanwhile, the medical superintendent of Safdarjung Hospital did not respond to any of the calls or messages by MiD DAY. ut associations working in the city for reserved category people feel that such kind of incidents keep happening at medical colleges. However, very few students have the courage to speak out. “This kind of behaviour is not at all unexpected. Medical colleges in their own way discriminate against students from the reserved category. In VMMC, they deliberately keep the interviews for reserved category students on separate dates so they can easily identify them,” said Dr PK Rathore, Executive Member, SC/ ST Medical Association, Delhi. He is also a faculty member of medicine at Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC). The Other Side “There is nothing like that in the college. This is all rubbish. Also there was no caste bias during the present physiology examination as two of the four examiners were from reserved category,” said Professor Shobha Das, Head of Department, Physiology, VMMC. ‘Without fail’ According to students, then Principal Dr Jagdish Prasad had assured transparency in the examination process during the supplementary examination. * rom the 2004 batch, at least one student had not passed the examination till 2010. One of them passed in 2010 and another succeeded in 2008.
* From the 2005 batch, at least two students have not passed the examination till 2010 and one has left the college.
* From the 2006 batch, at least four students are yet to pass the examination.
* From the 2007 batch, at least two students are yet to pass the examination.
* From the 2008 batch, at least three students are yet to pass the examination.
* From the 2009 batch, at least 15 students are yet to pass the examination. The Common Entrance Test (CET) of students from ACMS ranged from 117 to 2028 in 2009-2010, while many students who failed in Physiology in VMMC had comparatively higher ranks. Some of the students from reserved category had ranks like 08, 14 and 17.
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