Thorat Committee and Art of Making Reports ' Part-I
Thorat Committee and Art of Making Reports ' Part-I
Let me put the conclusion of my analysis in the beginning itself ' Thorat Committee is about politics, not about equality. Now please go through my analysis in two parts (Thorat Committee and Art of Making Reports ' Part-I and Part-II). Can you sense something unusual? I have used a cue from the Thorat committee. They have displayed a smart piece of artistry in preparing their report: First write down the conclusions and then start the investigations to prove the conclusions! To your relief, I have not perfected this art.
I have tried not to be judgmental and attempted to base my conclusion from the facts, which no one can dispute. I hope you like this analysis.
What is Thorat Committee?
Three-member Thorat Committee was constituted by the government of
The committee members
- S. K. Thorat, Chairperson of University Grants Commission - Head
- K. M. Shyam Prasad, Vice-President of the National Board of Examinations
- R. K. Srivastava, Director-General of Health Services.
The idea behind the committee
A Times of India report appeared on September 12, 2006, titled, “Dalit students 'abused’ at AIIMS.” This prompted health minister Anbumani Ramadoss to set up the Thorat inquiry the same evening.
Submission of report
The committee submitted its report to Anbumani Ramadoss, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister on May 5, 2007.
Conclusions and recommendations of the committee
Major conclusions and recommendations are under:
- AIIMS Director Dr. P. Venugopal played a provocative role in the origination of the students' agitation against 27% OBC reservations.
- The committee reports that more than two thirds of the reserved category students confirmed to them that they had faced caste based discriminations in the institute, their evaluation was not proper, they often got less than expected marks, higher caste faculty members enquired about the castes of the students during viva voce, and they shifted their hostels to remain safe.
- The committee suggested towards more objective based tests to prevent disclosure of identity of the students to the evaluators.
- The committee 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.
Modes of investigations by the Thorat committee
- Thorat Committee never interacted with any one from the faculty of AIIMS.
- The committee had to meet the alleged victims secretly for its task of recording evidence, because the Director of AIIMS, Dr. P. Venugopal didn’t cooperate with them in the investigations.
My objections to the Thorat committee report
The most important point is that the Thorat committee report can't be looked at in isolation. Some important factors and objections to the committee report are:
a) The background leading to the formation of the committee (tussle between Health Minister and the Director) is a very important factor, which points towards the fact that this committee might have been formed by the minister to set scores with the director.
b) Timing of the committee formation: Why the committee was formed in the year 2006 (exactly after the High Court stayed the sacking of the Director)? If the alleged discrimination of the reserved category students are being done for a long time, why didn't the minister bothered to look at the matter before?
c) Members of the committee: They come from positions where they can't make the government unhappy, for the sake of their own careers.
d) Times of
e) Who should conduct inquiry: Why was the committee formed and its report submitted to the Health Minster when the matter involving was a clear case of alleged human rights violation. Why the matter was not reported in front of the National Human Rights Commission?
f) Emotional response: In the emotionally charged condition, when the fate of the law enforcing the 27% quota in central educational institutions is hanging in the Supreme Court, how could the committee make sure that the reserved category students who took part in the investigation were speaking unbiased truth? Some allegations like "their evaluation was not proper" and "they often got less than expected marks" are vague statements. Ask any student and he or she will say that the evaluation was not proper or the marks were less than expected. This is the basic psychology of students and examinees.
g) If the higher caste faculty members really enquired about the castes of their students during viva voce, why didn't the professors belonging to the castes of the reserved category students protest, or inform the minister who is the President of the institute?
h) Why didn't the committee consult even a single faculty member? At least it should have consulted the faculty belonging to the castes of reserved categories, to get the real picture from those who are learned and mature enough.
i) The methodology of investigation consisting of only "asking" the alleged victims doesn't seem convincing.
j) Accountability of Dr. Ramadoss: If the alleged caste based discriminations are true, then as President of AIIMS, what is the accountability of Health Minister Dr. Ramadoss in maintaining a healthy non-discriminatory atmosphere in the institute?
k) Thorat Committee's recommendations of forming "another committee of students, residents and faculty to examine and study social divisions on the campus and suggest measures to remedy the situation" means this committee didn't do its job properly. This was the very purpose for which the Thorat committee was formed and now the committee, after investigating for over 8 months, wants another committee to do its job! Why should not the committee report be accounted null and void?
Need for greater autonomy of premier institutes
It should be noted that the Public Accounts Committee Report (2004-2005) tabled in the parliament spoke of the need to back off from interference in the AIIMS functioning. The premier institutes like IIMs, IITs, IISc, and AIIMS have been able to excel to the present level and made an international brand of themselves because of the dedicated faculty and management contributions. A level of autonomy is very important for the continual growth of such institutions, otherwise the bureaucracy can play havoc on the quality of education. The politicians of
Conclusions are drawn after keeping in view the background and events leading to the present condition, as presented in Part-II of this article and the above mentioned objections.
Dr. P. Venugopal is an eminent figure in the medical field in
The manner, in which the present Health Minister Dr. A. Ramadoss has tried to dilute the autonomy of the AIIMS and to bring down Dr. P. Venugopal from his chair, is a story of a despotic minister who runs on his whim.
The Thorat Committee report should not be looked at in isolation. The committee and its report have many aspects which make one suspect its real intentions (See "My objections to the Thorat committee report"). It seems the committee was formed by the minister of health to get even with the AIIMS director, who didn't toe his lines. The committee seems to conclude exactly what was expected of it, and blamed exactly who were expected to be blamed by it; it was a grand design to frame up the AIIMS director Dr. P. Venugopal. Therefore I say - Thorat Committee is about politics, not about equality.
Note: Please see Part-II of this article for more information and facts.