ASHA activist Ranjana Nirula succumbs to Covid-19

Nirula’s inspiring life of over 50 years worked for the welfare of ASHA workers and many similar ignored workforces of the country.


Another name added to the long list of Covid deaths on the night of May 10, 2021 at the RML hospital in New Delhi. However, the demise of ASHA Workers’ All India Coordination Committee Convener Ranjana Nirula hit harder for many activists and workers whose grief and remembrances flooded Twitter and Facebook platforms at the mention of “Ranjana Nirula ASHA.”

The former CITU Treasurer and All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) Central Executive Committee member was a powerful voice that focused on the grievances of the under-appreciated medical workforce of India – Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers.

“Comrade Nirula fought for the rights of workers and continuously stressed on the necessity of recognising and fighting attempts to disrupt the unity of workers and people by communal forces. The working class and the Left movement has lost one of its champions today,” said the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Tuesday.

Even before the onslaught of the Covid-crisis, the over-50-year-old Convener repeatedly praised them as the backbone of the health department. By 2020, she spoke about the workers being used as unpaid labour for contract-tracing, detection and awareness.

She told media persons that the whole operation of India’s fight against Covid-19 would have crumbled if not for these frontline workers. Even today, the female workforce continues as a crucial part of the healthcare system but lacking basic necessities such as payment incentives, PPE kit and other protective gear.

As for Nirula, the trailblazer was also a founding leader of AIDWA Delhi and the Working Editor of The Voice of the Working Woman since 1998. The journal was brought out by the Coordination Committee of Working Women, which was set up in 1979.

“Com Ranjana has guided many activists in the movement. She was very affectionate and always reached out to people whenever they needed help. Her always smiling face, warmth, enthusiasm and determination will be missed by all of us,” said AIDWA General Secretary Mariam Dhawale.

Her life though dedicated to activism and the rights of on-ground workers also impressed many people who met the personality in their lifetime. Below are a few Facebook posts of such instances.

As of May 11, as many as 37,15,221 active Covid cases have been recorded with 2,49,992 deaths. As reports of Covid-death under-reporting continues, obituaries become one of the few alternatives to track the human cost of the ensuing health crisis.


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