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Doctors suffer visa bar


Gandhi fellows with Professor Narinder Kapur
Gandhi fellows with Professor Narinder Kapur

TWO Indian doctors scheduled to visit the UK on Gandhi fellowships have had their visa applications rejected by the British High Commission in India.

Professor Narinder Kapur, who played a leading role in setting up 10 Gandhi fellowships to allow senior and junior Indian clinicians to attend important UK conferences, told Eastern Eye last Sunday (3) the visa refusal was “as a result of the unreasonable and disgraceful behaviour of the UK High Commission in India”, and added that huge distress and inconvenience has been
caused to many people.

Kapur added: “I regard the behaviour of the visa officials in India as displaying a degree of prejudice, ineptitude and discourtesy that I find astonishing. A 100 years ago Mahatma Gandhi remonstrated against the dogma of an imperial power that was causing distress and injustice to ordinary Indians. It seems that in some respects things have not changed in 100 years.”

The visiting professor of neuropsychology at the University College London, explained how he had seen the relevant documents relating to some of the initial grounds for refusal for Farzana
Mulla.

He said there was an accusation that Mulla would not return to India – even though she would have been leaving her six-year-old son back at home in India while she made the trip to the UK.
Kapur called the inferred accusation “petty and spurious”, adding that Mulla had done “pioneering work for HIV patients in India”.

Mulla was to be a key speaker at a London symposium that is to be chaired by Kapur on Thursday (7).

Another applicant whose visa was rejected was Poornaprajna Kulkarni.

A House of Lords reception on Monday (4) hosted by Lord Meghnad Desai, chair of the Gandhi Statue appeal, and also attended by other peers and MPs was meant to welcome the 10 Gandhi fellows from India. It had to go ahead without the two refused visas.

The other recipients of the fellowships were in attendance: Dr Ratnavalli Ellajosyula, Bangalore, Dr Suvarna Alladi, Bangalore, Dr Aparna Dutt, Kolkata, Miss Nidhi Dev, Bangalore, Miss Ranita
Nandi, Kolkata, Miss Tanvi Dingankar, Mumbai, Miss Sulakshana Rao, Kolkata and Miss Sushmita Sircar, Kolkata.

The fellows will be attending the meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society in London (6-8) before attending a meeting of the World Federation for Neurorehabilitation in Glasgow
(11-12).

Kapur, who was born in India but grew up in Northern Ireland, explained why he was funding the fellowships “in memory and in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi”.

It was partly down to enabling doctors from India to learn from attending leading conferences in their field in the UK but also as a thank you and recognition for their hard work as doctors
in India.

He said typically doctors in India, compared to their UK counterparts, would “often see 10 times more patients, have one tenth the amount of resources and maybe get one tenth of the income”.