A parliamentary panel has called out the discrimination meted out to qualified doctors and faculty from the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), reported The Indian Express on Wednesday, 27 July.
The panel made several recommendations to battle the bias, including conducting evaluations of students without seeing their names and using a fictitious code number and including SC/ST members in the general body of AIIMS.
The Parliamentary Panel on Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes made the statements while examining the roles of autonomous bodies and educational institutions, including central universities and engineering colleges, in the socio-economic development of reserved candidates with a focus on AIIMS, according to Deccan Herald.
Faculty Positions Still Vacant
Out of the 1,111 faculty positions, AIIMS has a total of 275 posts for assistant professors and 92 for professors vacant currently. However, the parliamentary committee said in its report that doctors from the reserved categories were not being appointed to the faculty posts in spite of being eligible, competent, and experienced.
The panel recommended filling up the vacant posts by the next three months and advised that no vacant faculty seat reserved for SC/ST should be kept vacant for more than six months "under any circumstances."
The committee also informed the Union Health Ministry that it was "not inclined to accept the frequent stereotype reply of the Government" that no suitable candidate was found for the posts. It added that candidates belonging to SC/ST communities, who deserved the posts, were declared unsuitable due to biased assessment.
The panel advised forming a selection committee that included experts from the SC/ST communities.
SC/ST Students Failed in Exams Despite Doing Well
Commenting on the grading system, the panel alleged that students from the SC/ST communities were graded in a biased manner. It said that such students had often "invariably done very well in theory examinations" but were "declared failed a number of times" in the practical examinations.
"This clearly underlines the biases towards SC/ST students. This must be dealt with firm decision and that a suitable examination monitoring system may be developed to put an end to this biased practice."
The panel recommended that the dean of examination scrutinise such bias in examinations and submit a report to the director general of health services.
No SC/ST Candidates in General Body of AIIMS
Regarding inclusivity in the general body of AIIMS, the committee noted that there were no candidates from the SC/ST communities and noted that this "deprives 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 recommended that the health ministry and the medical institute resolve complaints of the faculty members, employees, and students from the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities.
(With inputs from The Indian Express and Deccan Herald.)