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Camera in AIIMS caste test

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By CHARU SUDAN KASTURI in Delhi
  • Published 8.03.07
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New Delhi, March 8: In the middle of his final year MBBS viva exam, trying to unravel the significance of a patient’s swollen liver, Ajay Kumar Singh suddenly heard a bellow.

It wasn’t one of the three professors standing before him, but a man with a video camera who had emerged from behind a curtain.

Speak louder, the man said, brandishing his recorder.

Too stunned to fathom what was happening, Ajay blanked out.

The 24-year-old scheduled caste student, who had complained against discrimination faced by reserved category students at AIIMS, believes he has been victimised.

Victimised, because he spoke out. And for the first time, he failed an exam.

The AIIMS administration faces fresh charges of caste discrimination, backed by evidence that it flouted rules laid out by its own governing body (GB), while conducting a re-examination of six SC students.

“My boldness was rewarded by failure. The sole intention of failing me deliberately is to set an example that no student should raise their voice against injustice done to them,” wrote Ajay, in a letter to the AIIMS dean, seeking re-examination.

He also told an inquiry committee — headed by UGC chairman Sukhdeo Thorat probing caste discrimination charges at AIIMS, first reported by The Telegraph last June — that he feared “my boldness may affect my results”.

On January 11, the AIIMS administration issued a notice agreeing to a re-test.

The day vivas were to begin — January 24 — coincided with a GB meeting, headed by health minister Anbumani Ramadoss.

The meeting — minutes of that are available with The Telegraph — decided that tests should not be carried out by the same evaluators but by “independent examiners”.

Dr R.K. Deka, the dean (academics), was put in charge.

Besides the exam on 24th, the remaining vivas — on 25th, 27th and 29th of January — were, however, conducted by the same examiners, under dean (examinations) Dr Randeep Guleria.

In addition, the vivas were recorded on camera, without the students being informed.

Ajay, and the five other students, failed again.

According to AIIMS, the “repeated failure of the students needs no explanation”. “The vivas were recorded precisely to pre-empt any allegations of bias later,” said spokesperson Shakti Gupta.

But Gupta had no answer on why students weren’t warned about the disconcerting presence of a camera.