Published: 04th December 2021
Why don't you clean my toilet: Amid delay in NEET PG counselling, SC, ST, OBC doctors reveal discrimination, caste abuse
Doctors who EdexLive spoke to have shared instances of targeted and caste-based abuses that they were subjected to, especially after July 2021
The counselling for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test PG 2021 is unusually late. Doctors who should have gone to college much earlier have been waiting for the National Medical Council to announce their counselling date, despite having had their results in hand a few months back. Even though the delay is frustrating doctors across the country — the Supreme Court is yet to give the green light for the OBC and EWS quota for NEET PG — a few instances tell us that doctors from the SC, ST and OBC categories have been facing a bit of flak because of how the reservation came about.
Doctors whom EdexLive spoke to have shared instances of targeted and caste-based abuses that they were subjected to, especially after July 2021. On July 29, 2021, after long struggles by anti-caste groups and various political parties including the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (that rules Tamil Nadu), the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced 27 per cent reservation for OBC students and another 10 per cent for Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in the All India Quota (AIQ) scheme for undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental courses. Until then, the AIQ seats had reservations only for SC and ST students. As much as 50 per cent of the medical PG seats fall under the All India Quota and the state governments could earlier reserve seats according to the country's reservation norms, only in the remaining seats. Around 1500 OBC MBBS students and 2500 OBC post-graduate students and also around 550 EWS MBBS students and around 1000 EWS post-graduate students will be benefited from this announcement.
This was later challenged in the Supreme Court by doctors who belong to unreserved categories. While the petitions are still in court, causing a delay in counselling, the Telegram and Facebook groups for doctors have no dearth of casteist abuse.
Why don't you clean my toilet?
Rohan*, a doctor from Chennai has secured a good rank in NEET PG 2021, and has been hoping that he gets to study paediatrics, a branch of medicine that he wanted to study for a long time. While the counselling delay has been unsurprisingly frustrating him, Rohan shares a few other incidents too that have exasperated him.
Hailing from the OBC category, he is also part of various online groups that update doctors on counselling and exams. "Recently, a doctor from the OBC category had posted his rank in the group. But immediately, another doctor responded saying that the group is all for 'fighting the excessive reservation policy of the government'. I asked him to be respectful of others and that the group is for doctors across categories," he says. But that was when things got ugly. "That particular doctor started texting me privately, calling me names and abusing me," he says. EdexLive is in possession of the screenshots of the chat. At one point, the other doctor tells Rohan, "I have employed some of you to clean my toilets."
READ ALSO : Delay in NEET-PG counselling burdens existing resident doctors across India's med colleges
Rohan says that the incident isn't isolated. "Every time someone from the SC, ST or OBC communities talks about counselling, they are subject to abuse. The reason? These groups are dominated by doctors from the general category," he says. The latest National Board of Examination data supports that. Among the students who cleared NEET PG this year, 41,788 are from the General category, 35,039 are from the OBC category, 9,935 are from the SC category, and 2,787 are from the ST category. "And owing to this, you do not see people talking about the necessity of reservations in our country. Also, no general candidate will face such problems," he says.
He also goes on to explain why the reservation was long overdue, especially in Tamil Nadu. According to the 2011 Census of India, OBC's form 68 per cent of the population in Tamil Nadu. People from SC and ST communities form another 20 per cent. The state also has 52 medical colleges that offer PG seats, according to the central government data. "This means, without the reservations, the OBC NEET PG aspirants were in a disadvantageous situation," he says.
The aftermath of the abuse
The doctor is clear that the incident did not affect him personally. So, instead of cribbing over it, he decided to post it on a public platform. He says that he had found support from fellow doctors, especially from Kerala and Tamil Nadu. He said that he also had other doctors from reserved categories opening up about similar instances. In one such incident, a doctor from a SC community said that even though he had scored a rank that was better than his peers, he was still told that "You don't have to worry. You'll anyway get the branch you want." Dr Sylvia Karpagam, a public health doctor said that she was approached by at least 18 NEET PG aspirants who have told her about them facing similar instances this year.
The other side
There are at least four different petitions filed in the Supreme Court, seeking to quash the notice that had implemented OBC and EWS reservations in AIQ seats. One of them was even filed by 11 doctors across the country. "It is most humbly submitted that the impugned decision is in gross violation of the fundamental rights as enshrined under Article 14, 15, 16, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India," reads the petition, that adds, "It is most humbly submitted that the AIQ scheme was introduced in 1986 under the directions of this Hon’ble Court to provide for domicile free merit-based opportunities to students from any state to aspire to study in a good medical college located in another State."
Following this, the government has currently formed a panel to examine the EWS cutoff. The petition is due to be heard next on January 6.
*Name changed to protect identity