NEW DELHI: Nearly 12 years before Payal Tadvi, a woman doctor from scheduled tribe category, pursuing PG, ended her life in a medical college-cum-hospital in Mumbai due to ill-treatment by her seniors, country’s topmost medical institution All India Institute of Medical Sciences had witnessed a similar tragedy.Following the suicide of an undergraduate MBBS student at the elite institute who got admission through quota system, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had constituted a committee under the then-University Grants Commission chairman Sukhadeo Thorat in 2007.
The committee, despite hostility from the institute administration, and reluctant submissions from students and faculty, had highlighted the rampant caste discrimination in the institute and its findings are considered as milestones in identifying problems that “quota” students face in top educational institutes.
Thorat, now a professor emeritus at Jawaharlal Nehru University, feels Tadvi and many before her in other professional institutes would not have taken the extreme step, if the recommendations from his committee had been implemented.
“Nearly 25-30 students in top educational institutes have died in the last decade or so but the subsequent governments have failed to take any concrete policy decision to end caste discrimination in educational institutes,” he told this newspaper.“Despite the non-cooperation by the then-AIIMS administration, I was relieved that they followed some suggestions like ending caste-based ghettoisation in hostels, discrimination in mess and getting an external examiner from SC/ST class in viva voce. Sadly the government did not make any systemic changes,” he said.
They had submitted a 77-page report. Thorat feels that a stringent law, on the lines of the anti-ragging law should have been formulated following 2016 Rohit Vemula case. “There are regulations in place at university level but unless there is a law against such behavior, the attitude and antagonism of upper caste students and faculty won’t change. Students from privileged social backgrounds must unlearn what they have seen before,” he added.