Albert Einstein was dyslexic. So is billionaire Richard Branson. But a dyslexic cannot be a registrar or senior scientific officer in AIIMS, Delhi. A person without use of both legs or with only one arm cannot be an AIDS educator cum counsellor. A person with dwarfism cannot be a dispatch rider.
These are just a few of the bizarre conclusions in a report by an ‘expert’ committee constituted by AIIMS, Delhi, to identify
for persons with
recognised under the Rights of Persons with Disability (RPwD) Act 2016. According to this Act, 4% of posts/cadre in case of direct recruitment to Group A, B, C and D posts are to be reserved for persons with benchmark disability, that is, at least 40% disability as per the certificate issued by a government authority.
The committee does not include any disability rights activist, person with disability or doctor with disability though there are several in Delhi. This is despite the office of the chief commissioner for persons with disabilities writing to the government in 2012 suggesting that at least one person with disability or a person who has worked in the disability sector and is conversant with disability rights issues be included in selection boards to assure candidates with disabilities that there would be no discrimination or bias against them.
“Respect for a person includes being considered as a whole person and not merely in relation to one’s disability as AIIMS has been doing, dehumanising us by categorising us into one-leg, both leg, one arm affected etc. The non-disabled committee members must understand that people sharing the same condition often experience it in
, with different symptoms, limitations and prognoses,” said Dr Satendra Singh of Doctors with Disabilities, a pan-Indian group of
professionals with disabilities. He added that employment in AIIMS ought to be built and adapted to accommodate the needs of persons with disability in a way that promoted integration and full participation.
According to the report submitted by the committee, it had examined the functional requirement needed to carry out the jobs associated with various posts. The committee identified posts which can be reserved for persons with various kinds of disabilities through direct recruitment or promotions. The committee stated that final selection of all persons with disability who clear the written exam or qualify after an interview would be subject to medical examination by a medical board constituted by AIIMS to assess the suitability of the candidate’s physical capability for a post.
“Physical disability is not a hurdle if a person has the will to work. For any post, one should consider what a person is capable of rather than decide in advance that a person cannot do this or that. That’s just bias and a narrow attitude,” said Dr RS Rautela, medical director of
. A professor of anaesthesiology with locomotor disability, Dr Rautela added that such attitude blocked opportunities for persons with disabilities. Questions sent to the director of the institute and the union health minister, who is also the president of AIIMS, Delhi, elicited no response.