Wednesday, 20 June 2007
Chandramohan Vs. AIIMS Dalit students
The one-eyed twice-borns
Confronting the extremist fringe of the Right comes easy to the liberal-secular set but it ignores the more widespread casteist slurs by other sections of society
Two recent incidents, seemingly unrelated, demonstrate how the “secular” common sense can react in shockingly contrasting ways.
The first, much publicised case from MS University, Vadodara, involves Chandramohan Srimantula’s paintings, the rightwing opposition to his work, and the subsequent rallying of the secular-liberal intelligentsia around the victim.
About the same time, at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, a case of blatant victimisation of a postgraduate student, Sukhbir Singh Badhal, was reported. The case came to light through the findings of a three-member committee inquiring into caste discrimination at AIIMS headed by University Grants Commission chairman Sukhdeo Thorat.
Badhal had stood first in a selection examination in lab medicine, but he was superseded by the second-ranker in the appointment to the coveted post of senior resident at the department of lab medicine.
While Chandramohan’s victimisation outraged a cross-section of voices — artists, academics, writers, actors, public intellectuals, lawyers, concerned citizens — there was no one to take up Badhal’s cause. While a Free Chandramohan Committee quickly came into existence, a Help Badhal Committee did not materialise. Crucial here is the fact that Badhal happens to be a Dalit, and a Dalit who could stake a rightful claim to an institutional position without taking recourse to reservation. He had topped in the General category..........