Year after year, the bulk of MBBS doctors with disabilities who clear the post graduate entrance exam for seven All India Institutes of Medical Sciences, including the one in Delhi, are denied admission. Barely 0.4% of seats over the last three years have been given to them despite the disability rights law of 2016 stipulating a 5% reservation. Even the handful who have got admission were mostly given non-clinical subjects which have few takers.
Out of over 4,000 PG seats in the various AIIMS from 2018 onwards, 200 should have gone to those with disabilities if the 5% quota was implemented. Instead, 17 have been given to them.
From 2021 onwards, the combined entrance exam, Institutes of National Importance Common Entrance Test (INICET) is also for admission to PGI Chandigarh, Jipmer Pondicherry and Nimhans Bengaluru. The exams are held twice a year, in January and July. The seat matrix for January 2021 INICET shows that 27 seats were reserved for persons with disabilities out of a total of 684 PG seats in all seven AIIMS combined, barely 4%. Though 38 doctors with disabilities are shown in the list of candidates who qualified, not a single one was allotted a seat. In the July 2021 INICET, out of 536 PG seats in all the AIIMS, 26 have been reserved for doctors with disabilities but in the mock round of allotment, not a single seat has been allotted. The results of the next round will be out on August 16 and the remaining rounds will be completed within 30 days after that.
“As per current data, a total of 35 persons with benchmark disabilities (PWBD) candidates have qualified for seat allocation. Seventeen out of 31 opted for AIIMS as first preference and 15 opted for AIIMS as second preference. In the mock round, the choices filled by the candidates were not available at AIIMS and hence no seat was allocated at AIIMS. This may change in the subsequent rounds,” said Dr Randeep Guleria, director of AIIMS, Delhi. But, a candidate with disability said usually, there wasn’t much change from the mock allotment.
He added that the allotment depended on the order of merit of the candidates and preferences filled by them and that they were allocated the highest available seat from among their preferences according to order of merit.
“Unlike seats reserved for OBCs, SCs and STs, which are shown branch or specialty wise in the seat matrix issued, for doctors with disabilities, they just give the total number of seats without a break up of which specialties these seats are available in. So, candidates with disabilities are forced to choose blindly not knowing what specialties are open to them. This is the reason for such a huge number of candidates being rejected on the basis of FCNA or filled choice not available,” said a doctor with disability.
By not giving specialtywise break up, the few seats that doctors with disabilities get are mostly in non-clinical subjects such as microbiology, physiology, biochemistry, biophysics and pathology in several AIIMS and usually these are seats rejected by other candidates. In contrast, the five seats reserved for them in PGI Chandigarh in internal medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology, general surgery and anaesthesia have all been filled. Similarly, the five seats allotted and filled in Jipmer Pondicherry were in general medicine, general surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, ophthalmology and radiation oncology and one seat in Nimhans was in psychiatry.
“INICET is a common exam and yet, when PGI, Chandigarh can do it, why do all AIIMS withhold transparency? They never notify disabled applicants about subjectwise reservations, therefore they are compelled to make a random decision. There will be a very high possibility of cancellation of their application, as reservation of seat may not have been kept in their preferred subject,” pointed out Dr Satendra Singh, professor of physiology in University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi and co-chair of the International Council for Disability Inclusion in Medical Education.