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Severely disabled will no longer be barred from pursuing medicine

The Medical Council of India has finally adopted a more inclusive policy and said that physical disability will no longer be valid grounds to prevent a person from becoming a doctor. It has taken nearly 20 years of struggle between disabled students and India's medical studies regulator for this shift to happen.

The MCI will now allow 21 categories of severely disabled candidates to take next year's graduate and post-graduate medical courses. This major change in policy comes after a strong order from the Supreme Court in August.

These include blindness, low-vision, hearing impairment, locomotor disability, dwarfism, intellectual disability, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy.

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is framing rules to specify medical job roles for different categories of disability. Until now, the MCI allowed only candidates with below 70% disability of the lower limbs to study medicine, although this was against all disability-related laws in the country. This meant students had to fight separate legal battles for admission to medical schools.

The MCI felt that people with severe disability were not good enough to study medicine. In August, a student with thalassemia was allowed by the Supreme Court to take admission in a medical college. The court also criticised the MCI, asking it to uphold social justice.

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