Born to illiterate parents living in a non-descript village, Jasbir Singh Aulakh, suffering from polio, rose to become a doctor in 1993 with sheer grit and determination. More than the polio, Aulakh had to battle official apathy at the time of admission and joining the job.
According to the 2011 census data, Barnala district has 10,630 people with disabilities in rural areas and 3,720 such people in urban areas.
When Aulakh appeared for the entrance test for MD (gynaecology), he was denied reservation though 3% seats were reserved for candidates with disabilities and had to move the Punjab and Haryana high court. Aulakh was the only candidate with disability to clear the entrance test for MD (gynae) at the time.
Even after getting orders for his job posting, he was not allowed to join at the civil hospital here for five years. Again he moved the high court. “I went to the commissioner (disabilities), civil secretariat and the high court. Literally, it was a pillar-to-post running for me with my polio-affected legs. But my tenacity paid off,” Aulakh, currently the senior medical officer at the local civil hospital, says.
Once on the job, he put tremendous energy into it to prove himself. The Punjab Health Systems Corporation managing director repeatedly commended his performance for achieving more than 500% of the benchmark targets.
Aulakh, a connoisseur of Punjabi literature, has been the first male gynae specialist at civil hospital here. In November 2013, he established a record of sorts by conducting 306 deliveries in a three-bed single-room maternity ward in the hospital.
Aulakh also received the ‘state award to the handicapped’ by minister Surjit Jyani. The deputy commissioner honoured him on the eve of Republic Day in 2014. Aulakh also had participated in the TV show ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ in 2007 and was also honoured by Baba Farid Society, Faridkot, for his commendable services in the field of health.
Aulakh says, “My parents were supportive and caring. My father had a dream that I become a doctor and serve the poor. I am happy to have lived up to the expectations of the family, friends and society.”
“I have been a part of numerous social drives, awareness camps, research works and education programmes in villages and will continue to do so,” Aulakh says, adding, “We must remove the barriers that affect the inclusion and participation of people with disabilities in society, including through changing attitudes.”
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is marked around the world every year on December 3, to promote awareness and to mobilise support for critical issues pertaining to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society and development.