NEW DELHI: The three-member Thorat Committee constituted by the Centre in September last year to look into allegations of discrimination against reserved category students at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here has charged its Director P. Venugopal with "playing a provocative role" in the origination of the agitation against 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes in elite Central education institutions.
The committee, headed by University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairperson S. K. Thorat, submitted its report to Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Anbumani Ramadoss on Saturday.
The report also suggests that the anti-quota agitation was "planned" by a group of people who had strong views against the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admissions) Act, 2006 (then Bill). The members in their report claim they have enough evidence to support their findings.
According to the report, AIIMS became the venue for the so-called anti-quota agitation primarily to paralyse health care for thousands of people and attract public attention against reservation. Paralysis of emergency services would also put pressure on the Government to withdraw the [then] proposed Bill, it says. The report says the AIIMS administration went to the extent of penalising and punishing the students and staff who did not support the agitation while questioning the credibility and role of the Youth for Equality - a student body that spearheaded the agitation.
The voluminous report says the AIIMS administration failed to ensure safeguards for weaker sections of society guaranteed under the Constitution like undergraduate programmes and special coaching for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes students.
It also says that the conduct of the faculty towards the SC/ST students was not fair and objective and the teachers often "misused" their powers given to them for internal assessment.
As many as 69 per cent of the reserved category students alleged that they did not receive adequate support from teachers, 72 per cent said they faced discrimination, and 76 per cent said their evaluation was not proper while 82 per cent said they often got less than expected marks.
In practical examinations and viva voce, these students said, the treatment meted out to them was "not fair". Worse, 76 per cent said higher caste faculty members enquired about the castes of their students while 84 per cent said they were asked, directly or indirectly, about their caste backgrounds. An equal percentage of students alleged that their grading was adversely affected due to their background.
The reserved category students also alleged "social isolation" at various levels, including even from faculty members, with 84 per cent students saying they faced violence and segregation in the hostel that often forced them to shift to hostels No. 4 and 5 where there was a concentration of SC/ST students.
The Thorat Committee has recommended that a committee of students, residents and faculty be set up to examine and study social divisions on the campus and suggest measures to remedy the situation. The two other members of the Committee are K. M. Shyam Prasad, Vice-President of the National Board of Examinations, and R. K. Srivastava, Director-General of Health Services.