NEW DELHI: The suicide of a woman PG medical student belonging to the Tadvi Bhil Scheduled Tribe community in a Mumbai hospital last week, due to harassment by seniors over her social background, brings forth a harsh reality.
Out of India’s 512 medical colleges, not even 80 have a platform where students can lodge complaints related to caste-based discrimination.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) had ordered the constitution of ‘equal opportunity cells’ in institutes of higher education in 2016 after the Rohit Vemula incident. However, since most medical colleges do not fall under the purview of UGC, the directive was not implemented across the board.
Among institutes of higher education, the highest number of ragging complaints comes from medical colleges, says Raj Kachroo of Aman Movement, an NGO that runs the UGC’s anti-ragging cell.
Within that, a large number of complaints are from those facing harassment due to their social backgrounds.
Last year, 38% of the ragging cases were reported from 450 medical colleges against 47,000 other colleges, where the figure was just 1.8%.
“Students in medical colleges are harassed and discriminated against due to their backgrounds, the way they speak and the way they behave,” said Kachroo.
He added most cases of caste-based discrimination are not reported by students out of fear.
Sources in the Medical Council of India-Board of Governors conceded they have not paid attention to caste-based discrimination.
Satendra Singh of University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi University said the medical education regulator should ensure functional diversity where students from diverse backgrounds share their concerns.