Education February 22, 2020
Ministry intervention sought in matter of denial of teaching job to disabled doctor
Another case of a central medical institute discriminating against a doctor with disability has come to light. This time it is Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital which has denied a teaching job to a disabled doctor despite her clearing an exam and interview for the post. Doctors with Disabilities has taken the matter up with Unions Ministers Thawarchand Gehlot and Harsh Vardhan as well as the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities.
Dr Nonita Gangwani has done her MBBS and MD in physiology and teaches the subject at a medical college in Ghaziabad. She is also registered with the Delhi Medical Council and is a wheelchair user with a 70% disability due to multiple sclerosis.
Rejected despite the right qualification & experience
Dr Nonita applied for the post of Senior Resident under the General Category on a regular basis in the physiology department of New Delhi’s VMM College and Safdarjung Hospital. She cleared the written exam and interview and was selected in 2019. Yet three months and two medical assessments later she has been found unfit by the hospital medical board based on her disability. Exactly how Dr Nonita’s disability will affect her ability to teach physiology has not been given by the board.
In an interview to The Times of India, Dr Nonita said the medical board asked her how she would prepare power point presentations and give lectures. “I explained that I make my presentations using phone apps and a technician helps me during lectures. They asked if I could write and I said I couldn’t after which they said they would be in touch”. The same questions were asked in another interview by the medical board in December.
The rejection has been taken up by Doctors with Disabilities, the pan-India group of healthcare professions with disabilities. In a strongly worded letter to Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawarchand Gehlot and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Dr Satendra Singh, Founder, Doctors with Disabilities has asked why such instances of discrimination persist despite the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPwD) 2016.
Despite this landmark legislation in place since 19 April 2017, it is unfortunate to see central institutes discriminating against meritorious candidates with disabilities…Non-disabled doctors have for long questioned the abilities of doctors with disabilities. – Dr Satendra SIngh, Founder, Doctors with Disabilities
RPWD Act 2016 remains unmet on the ground
The letter goes on to cite past instances where disabled doctors were rejected despite having the right qualifications. Like the 2008 case of Dr Syed Bashir-Ud-Din Qadri from Kashmir, who has cerebral palsy. “In spite of having stood first in the merit list for a teaching post, he was not given an employment letter on the ground of his disability. It was said that he cannot hold a piece of chalk so how will he write on blackboard”. The letter points out that the Supreme Court upheld Dr Syed’s rights later.
Despite more powerful legislation in place since then, the same mistakes are being made. “They must know that accommodations in educational and clinical settings are a RIGHT, not a special privilege or ‘special advantage’”, says Dr Singh.
The letter recommends that persons with disabilities be included as members of selection boards to ensure there’s no bias against disabled candidates. “I suggest that at least one of the members of the Public Service Commission and the Selection Boards/Committees etc. is preferably a persons with disability or a person who has worked in the disability sector for a reasonable period of time and who is well conversant with disability rights issues including disability specific legislations”, says Dr Singh.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has been asked to withdraw the rejection letter and consider Dr Nonita with full honour.
Watch in Sign Language
- Denying disabled people the right to be doctors unfair on many grounds – Guest Column by Dr Upreet Dhaliwal
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