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"Court order should set a model for others with mental disabilities", says Bengal MBBS aspirant Tathagata Ghosh

April 16, 2019

A childhood dream finally looks set to become a reality for 20-year-old Tathagata Ghosh, who made headlines last week after the Calcutta High Court passed an order directing the West Bengal Health University to admit him into the MBBS course at NRS Medical College and Hospital (NRSMCH) in Kolkata.

"I was in Class 5 when I made up my mind to become a doctor, says Tathagata to NewzHook. "I got interested in medicine because I wanted to help and heal others, hence the decision to become a doctor.

If things had gone as planned, Tathagata would have been close to completing his first year as he cleared the medical entrance exam in 2018 with an all India rank of 420 in the Physically Disabled category. He was selected for admission by NRSMCH but this was cancelled as he has schizophrenia.

I have schizophrenia and I feel that someone is looking through the wall at with me using a machine. My concentration was affected a lot because of this but with the help of medication, regular counselling and solid family support, I have overcome this. I worked hard and underwent coaching regularly to clear the entrance exam. I was one of the star students at my coaching centre. - Tathagata Ghosh, MBBS student

This single-minded dedication, however, was not good enough for the university which denied him admission even after the high court ruled in his favour. It challenged the court order on the grounds that person with schizophrenia should not be allowed to become a doctor keeping in mind "the safety of the patients he would treat.

This is despite the RPWD Act 2016 mandating that physically disabled people between 40-80% are eligible to study MBBS. Tathagata's disability certificate shows he has over 40%.

His lawyer Biswarup Bhattacharya said that throughout the hearings, Tathagata showed acute knowledge of the Act as well as previous Supreme Court orders in favour of disabled students seeking to study medicine.

"Throughout the case Tathagata was extremely vigilant and even referred to earlier Supreme Court judgements, says Advocate Bhattacharya. "What we told the judge was that there was no precedent that could be used to deny him admission in any course, not just MBBS. Adds Tathagata, "I studied all the past judgements on the website Live Law and kept myself informed throughout.

The order, hopes Tathagata, will not just pave the way for other students with disabilities but specifically change attitudes towards people with mental disabilities.

"All my life I have heard words like 'mad' being thrown at me and faced a lot of prejudice, he says. "I have overcome that as well as the challenges that my disability brings to crack the medical entrance exam. I want people to stop using words like that and I pray the order makes life easier for other disabled people who want to study medicine.

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