Satendra Singh (doctor)

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Dr Satendra Singh
Dr Satendra Singh getting disability award
Nationality India
Education MBBS, MD
Organization University College of Medical Sciences

Dr Satendra Singh is a medical doctor at the University College of Medical Sciences and Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, Delhi. A physiologist by profession, he contracted poliomyelitis at the age of 9 months but went on to complete Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery and later on Doctor of Medicine in Physiology. He has also done the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER) fellowship. He is a noted disability activist especially for his sustained efforts in making public places accessible for disabled persons.[1]

Disability activism[edit]

Unlocked Central posts for doctors with disability

The disabled fighter fought not only for his but other disabled doctor’s rights. He also brought into open the discrimination by UPSC which disallowed doctors with disability to apply for various Central Health Services (CHS) posts. He himself was rejected in 2011 but fought and was later allowed to appear for the interview.[2][3] In 2013, his application was again rejected when he highlighted that the same discrimination was also present for the other posts.[4] He was allowed to apply in a quick intervention.[5] His RTI revealed that doctors with disabilities are not considered eligible for specialist CHS posts in teaching, non-teaching as well as public health specialist cadres. Undeterred, he complained again and requested the health ministry to allow all eligible doctors with disability to apply for these posts. His single handed relentless fight for justice over four years ultimately forced Health Ministry to unlock 1,674 specialist central posts for disabled doctors.[6]

Accessibility of all the medical institutions in India

On his petition the Court of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India instructed Medical Council of India to issue directives to all the medical institutions in India to be disabled-friendly.[7][8][9] Despite these efforts, most medical institutions have yet to comply with the directions.[10][11][12] His black armband protest on the United Nations' International Day of Persons with Disabilities in 2012 led authorities to construct ramps outside all the hostels at his medical college.[13]

Disabled friendly polling booths

He played an integral role of whistleblower to raise the issue of problems faced by voters with disability before and during the Delhi legislative assembly elections, 2013 through Right to Information.[14][15][16] He also wrote to the election commission as well as the Chief Justice of India to allow disabled voters to vote again before declaration of final results.[17] His RTI on fourth National Voters' Day revealed how Election Commission of India was caught unprepared to enfranchise electors with disability.[18] It showed violation of Supreme Court orders of 2004 to empower voters with disabilities.[19] After the expose Chief Electoral Office, Delhi involved him in making elections in Delhi disabled-friendly.[20] Not only did he sensitise the election officers on how to help electors with disability but he also helped in setting up a disability registration helpline.[21] His sustained efforts led to making election booths across the capital accessible to disabled and elderly voters.[22] Further, on his petition the disability court warned the Election Commission of India to make its website disabled friendly.[23]

Withdrawal of Union Public Service Commission and Indian Institutes of Technology Joint Entrance Examinations ‘discriminatory proforma’

Dr Singh challenged Union Public Service Commission’s format whereby disabled applicants were asked to paste photographs showing their disability as a proof. The Court of Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities directed the UPSC to refrain from asking disabled candidates to submit photographs showing their disabilities and to consider the ‘permanent disability certificate’ issued from a government hospital as a valid proof.[24] His advocacy led to the withdrawal of similar prOforma by IITJEE[25]

Disabled-friendly websites of Delhi Government hospitals

His judicial activism led to the web accessibility of all the hospitals under Government of Delhi.[26]

Policy change in duty concession for drivers with disability Central Government provides excise duty concession to disabled customers however Maruti Suzuki denied him the concession on the pretext of right leg disability which was not only discriminatory but illegal.[27] His relentless fight led the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises to amend the rules and quashing manufacturer's certificate and allowing RTO's certificate only.[28]

Dignified screening of people with disabilities at airports

After being harassed by security personnel at the Hyderabad airport because of his orthosis, Dr Singh approached Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) to amend rustic screening procedures and modify guidelines taking Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into consideration.[29] The disability watchdog has directed both DGCA and BCAS to make sure people with disabilities are not being harassed or humiliated at airports and that security personnel have been sensitized towards them.[30][31]

Corrected wrong celebration of Salk's birthday on World Polio Day

Rotary International established World Polio Day (24 October) to commemorate the birthday of virologist Jonas Salk who developed polio vaccine.[32] This erroneous observance was first challenged by Dr Singh in his publication in the official journal of the Edward Jenner Society's Vaccine (journal).[33] Even Google dedicated a doodle on Salk's 100th birthday to confirm 28 October as his birthday.[34] Rotary still celebrates the day on 24 October despite media reporting on the contrary.[35]

His sustained advocacy also lead to ramps being constructed at ATMs.[36] He also raised awareness by highlighting inaccessible ATMs[37] and post offices[38][39][40] in the capital to persons with disabilities through Right to Information Act.

Medical Humanities[edit]

Singh is the Coordinator of the Enabling Unit for persons with disabilities and founder of Infinite Ability, a medical humanities group on disability. These are the first such bodies in any medical college in India.[41] He organised the first ever Theatre of the Oppressed workshop for medical students in India.[42] He was also instrumental in organising a unique 'Blind with Camera' workshop for the visually impaired and blind students of University of Delhi in 2012 with Partho Bhowmick.[43][44]


He is the recipient of State Award by the Government of Delhi for exceptional achievement by a person with disability in the field of social work in 2016.[45] He was also awarded the NCPEDP MphasiS Universal Design Awards 2013 for promoting accessibility and ensuring life of equality and dignity for persons with disabilities.[46]


  1. ^ "They innovate to e-nable". The Times of India. 15 August 2013. 
  2. ^ "M.S.J.E. doesn’t consider disabled doctors fit for teaching jobs". D.N.I.S. 1 March 2011. 
  3. ^ "UPSC discriminating against me, alleges differently-abled doctor". The Hindu. 10 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "Rejected by UPSC twice, physically challenged doctor battles for justice". 8 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "Success for Dr Singh, but other physically challenged doctors still in lurch". India Medical Times. 14 November 2013. 
  6. ^ "One man’s crusade opens up CHS jobs for disabled doctors". The Times of India. 14 June 2015. 
  7. ^ "MCI asks all medical institutions to be 'accessible'". The Hindu. 18 April 2013. 
  8. ^ "Demand for barrier-free buildings". The Times of India. 26 February 2013. 
  9. ^ "Hope in India as Mandatory Access For People with Disability Takes Shape". India America Today. 8 June 2013. 
  10. ^ "Hospitals waking up to the disabled's needs, but slowly". Deccan Herald. 22 June 2013. 
  11. ^ "AIIMS plans access to disabled, others silent". The Times of India. 12 August 2013. 
  12. ^ "Most medical colleges ignore directive on facilities for disabled". The Hindu. 12 August 2013. 
  13. ^ "Black armband silent protest against GTB hospital". Millennium Post. 4 December 2012. 
  14. ^ "Not a disabled friendly electoral system". The Hindu. 5 December 2013. 
  15. ^ "मतदान केन्द्रो पर विकलांगो के लिए जरूरी सुविधाओ का अभाव". हिंदुस्तान. 3 December 2013. 
  16. ^ "Raw deal for physically challenged voters". The Statesman, page 2. 5 December 2013. 
  17. ^ "Delhi election 2013: Disabled voters rip apart system on web". The Times of India. 6 December 2013. 
  18. ^ "Polls near, but no data of voters with disabilities". Times of India. 27 January 2014. 
  19. ^ "विकलांगों के लिए गंभीर नहीं चुनाव आयोग". Punjab Kesari. 26 January 2014. 
  20. ^ "Call for inclusive elections". Hindu. 20 March 2014. 
  21. ^ "Voters with disability can register online". Times of India. 27 March 2014. 
  22. ^ "Lok Sabha Polls. Spirited disabled voters throng well equipped poll booths.". IBN Live. 10 April 2014. 
  23. ^ "EC warned to make website differentlyabled-friendly.". The Hindu. 18 August 2014. 
  24. ^ "UPSC asked to withdraw proforma which demands photographs showing disability from applicants". IBN Live. 14 October 2014. 
  25. ^ "IITs asked to stop using disability photos in applications". 3 November 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2016 – via Hindustan Times. 
  26. ^ "What do the SDGs mean for India’s disabled citizens?". 
  27. ^ "Only left is right: Why disabled drivers miss discount trip". Times of India. 4 Apr 2016. 
  28. ^ "Centre amends duty concession for disabled". 26 May 2016. 
  29. ^ "DU professor with disability harassed at Hyderabad airport". Times of India. 25 February 2014. 
  30. ^ "India Civil Aviation Misses Court of CCPD Notice Deadline On Frisking". Reduced Mobility. 3 October 2014. 
  31. ^ "DGCA given 30 days to prove disabled not harassed". Times of India. 15 September 2014. 
  32. ^ "WHO World Polio Day". 
  33. ^ Singh, S (11 January 2013). "It's time to correct the literature.". Vaccine. 31 (4): 591. PMID 23219693. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.11.059. 
  34. ^ "Google doodle celebrates 100th birthday of Jonas Salk, who developed polio vaccine". Times of India. 
  35. ^ "Observing polio day on the wrong date?". Hindu. 29 October 2014. 
  36. ^ "Doctor's efforts bring disabled-friendly ATMs at GTB Hospital". The Statesman, Page 3. 24 April 2013. 
  37. ^ "Few ATMs disabled-friendly". The Times of India. 3 December 2012. 
  38. ^ "Many post offices not accessible to disabled, reveals RTI query". The Hindu. 12 November 2012. 
  39. ^ "No ease of access to post offices for disabled". The Times of India. 29 October 2012. 
  40. ^ "Access denied: Delhi not for disabled". Hindustan Times. 2 December 2012. 
  41. ^ Singh, S (May 2012). "Broadening horizons: looking beyond disability.". Medical education. 46 (5): 522. PMID 22515781. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2923.2012.04246.x. 
  42. ^ Singh, S; Khosla, J; Sridhar, S (July 2012). "Exploring medical humanities through theatre of the oppressed". Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 54 (3): 296–7. PMC 3512382Freely accessible. PMID 23226869. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.102461. 
  43. ^ "They capture the world in their mind's eye". Times of India. 8 October 2012. 
  44. ^ "Photography, a collegiate passion". The Asian Age. 22 August 2012. 
  45. ^ "They tell tales of a disabled system that hurt them". Times of India. 3 Dec 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2016. 
  46. ^ "Disability awards presented". Business Standard. 14 August 2013.