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Top medical institute in Chandigarh under scanner for discriminating against disabled candidates

The Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh, one of India's top ranked medical institutes, has been put in the dock for violating the RPWD Act 2016

This is after the group Doctors with Disabilities that has been campaigning to remove guidelines that discriminate against disabled candidates who wish to pursue medicine, pointed out that the PGIMER has not included disabled students with upper limb disabilities in their recently released prospectus.

In a letter to the Union Health Minister J P Nadda, disability rights leader Dr Satendra Singh, who leads has asked the government to step in as PGIMER does not come under the Medical Council of India (MCI).

The efforts seem to have paid off as PGIMER authorities have said they will make necessary changes as per the RPWD Act and Supreme Court rulings.

In a statement, Dean, PGIMER Dr Rajesh Kumar said, "PGIMER is sensitive to such issues and if there are rules which include the upper limbs as well, we shall immediately correct our prospectus."

Dr Singh says he is happy with the response and hopes it will lead other medical institutes to look at amending admission rules as well. He also says disabled doctors must be involved in the process of framing admission rules. This is to ensure that the rights of disabled candidates are respected.

I hope that if top institutes such as PGIMER become inclusive and take steps to follow the provisions of the RPWD Act, other institutes will also follow suit and open admissions for students with disabilities. - Dr Satendra Singh, Disability right leader

However, Dr Singh is disappointed that other top institutes like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and JIPMER, Pondicherry have failed to amend the admission procedure.

This has affected the prospects of thousands of disabled candidates across India. Sachin Malik from Haryana is among them.

"Disabled students face discrimination despite their rights being clearly mentioned in RPWD Act. There is a severe lack of sincerity and concern in the departments that are involved in implementation of the laws meant to safeguard our rights. I lost one year of my education and had to get my right to medical admission redeemed by filing a case. Many disabled students often give up their right as they do not get enough support and response from the authorities", says Malik.

A situation that disability rights activities are determined to avoid at all costs.

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