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MCI moves towards public consultation on on amendments to disability rules for MBBS students

The Board of Governors of the Medical Council of India (MCI) have placed the amendments to the disability rules for MBBS admissions in the public domain and invited comments. This is an attempt to give candidates with disabilities a chance to have a say in the policies that impact their chances of pursuing a degree in medicine. The MCI has asked for comments to be sent to secy-mci@nic.in.

However, the deadline given for feedback to be sent is 30 November, which is also the deadline for online submissions for NEET-2019, which means the changes are unlikely to be reflected this year. This means candidates with disabilities who wish to pursue medicine will have to take legal recourse to get justice.

This has been the case in the last admission season as well when disabled candidates across India reached out to high courts and the Supreme Court (SC) to set aside the discriminatory provisions of the MCI that go against the RPWD Act, 2016. While they won their cases, it was at the cost of losing out on a year as the seats were filled up and the admission process closed.

Like Sachin Malik from Haryana, who successfully won the case against the state government both in the Punjab and Haryana High Court as well as the SC, but had to lose a year in the bargain.

The whole point of going to court and fighting this was to pave the way for other disabled candidates like me. But the amendments have not been reflected in the admission guidelines this year and giving a deadline of 30 November is meaningless. This will force students to take the exams and then go through the process of legally challenging it. I will be able to take admission in Haryana as I won my case but students around the country will face hardship. - Sachin Malik, Aspiring MBBS student

The SC had directed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the MCI to come up with amendments to the disability rules for disabled candidates quickly, but that has not happened, putting thousands of students in a state of anxiety and confusion.

There is also no clarity about testing centres for students with dyslexia. For instance, in Mumbai, only one centre, All India Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation has been recognised as a valid testing centre for disabilities, but as a Mumbai-based parent with a dyslexic child who wants to remain anonymous points out the centre can only test for locomotor disabilities.

"The world over there are studies that dyslexia is hard to quantify. It is a qualitative neuro-developmental disorder. Other entrance exams for law and engineering recognise all centres that give disability certificates but for MBBS, only limited number of centres are mentioned and this is not fair."

By giving 30 November as the deadline for comments, it does not look like the MCI or the Ministry has any real intention of doing right by candidates with disabilities. It looks like the NEET only wants to exclude disabled kids and make it as hard as possible for them to pursue their dreams of studying medicine.

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