In this post, we will go over some fascinating facts regarding the life of legendary Dr Archana Sharma, such as her family, death, and suicide. So, continue reading till the end for additional details.
Who Was Dr Archana Sharma?
Archana Sharma was an internationally recognized Indian botanist, cytogeneticist, cell biologist, and cytotoxicologist. Her highly renowned contributions include research on speciation in vegetatively reproducing plants, activation of cell division in adult nuclei, the source of polyteny in differentiated tissues in plants, flowering plant cytotaxonomy, and the effect of arsenic in water.
Childhood and Education of Dr Archana Sharma
Archana Sharma was born on February 16, 1932, in Pune, to an intellectual family that included Professor N.P. Mookherjee, a Professor of Chemistry at Bikaner. Her early education took place in Rajasthan. She subsequently earned her B.Sc. from Bikaner before going on to earn her M.Sc. in the Department of Botany at the University of Calcutta in 1951.
Sharma earned her Ph.D. in 1955 and her D.Sc. in 1960, with concentrations in Cytogenetics, Human Genetics, and Environmental Mutagenesis. As a result, she became the University of Calcutta’s second woman to be conferred a D.Sc.
Dr Archana Sharma’s Career
Sharma joined the faculty of the University of Calcutta in 1967, eventually becoming a Professor of Genetics in the Centre of Advanced Studies in Cell and Chromosome Research in 1972. She was appointed Head of the Department of Botany in 1981, succeeding Prof. A.K.Sharma till 1983.
Throughout her academic career, she has mentored over 70 Ph.D. students in cytogenetics, human genetics, and environmental mutagenesis.
Sharma’s research resulted in advances in botanical science. Her major discoveries include themes such as speciation in vegetatively reproducing plants, activation of cell division in adult nuclei, the source of polyteny in differentiated tissues in plants, blooming plant cytotaxonomy, and the effect of arsenic in water.
Her chromosomal investigation on blooming plants resulted in a new set of perceptions about their classification. Sharma also spent a lot of time researching human genetics, specifically genetic variation in normal human populations.
Sharma served on the University Grants Commission, the National Commission for Women, the Science and Engineering Research Council, the Department of Environment, and the Overseas Scientific Advisory Committee, among other organizations. Sharma also chaired the Department of Biotechnology’s Task Force on Integrated Manpower Development.
Sharma was an active member of prominent policy-making bodies such as the Science and Engineering Research Council of the Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India, the Environmental Research Council of the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the Government of India, the Panel for Cooperation with UNESCO of the Ministry of Human Resource Development of the Government of India, and various technical committees of the University Grants Commission of the Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India.
Death of Dr Archana Sharma
Archana Sharma committed suicide on March 30, 2022, in Dausa, Rajasthan. She was accused of murdering Asha Bairwa, a twenty-two-year-old lady. Archana operated on Asha and achieved a successful birth, but Asha passed away owing to PPH after some time (postpartum haemorrhage).
After Asha’s death, her family transported her body home, but a few hours later, they returned it to the hospital. A representative of the Bharatiya Janata Party arrived with her family and began to rally people and police in front of the hospital. The police filed a Section 302 FIR against Archana and charged her with murder.
Archana committed suicide because of fear and anxiety brought on by the FIR. In her suicide note, she stated, “Do not persecute innocent physicians.” She further added,
I adore my spouse and children very much. Please do not bother them following my passing. I committed no errors and did not murder anyone.
PPH is an established complication. Stop pestering doctors in this manner. My passing could show my innocence. DON’T HARASS INNOCENT DOCTORS. Please. Love you. Don’t let my children experience their mother’s absence.”
A video released on social media by her husband brought the case to public attention. In the video, he detailed the entire incident and requested that his wife receive justice.
In the video, he is heard saying, The police should be held accountable. How did they bring a Section 302 (murder) charge against her? There should be legislation against bothering and demanding money from physicians. My wife has passed away, but what about other doctors?”
Ashok Gehlot, the chief minister of Rajasthan, expressed his sorrow at Archana’s passing on Twitter. He also ordered the dismissal of the district’s SP, Anil Kumar, and the suspension of the SHO (station house officer). He wrote in his tweet:
The suicide of Dr. Archana Sharma is extremely tragic. We view physicians as gods. Doctors try their utmost to preserve the lives of their patients, but if something goes wrong, it is not fair to blame them.
Personal Sphere of Dr Archana Sharma
Sharma was married to Arun Kumar Sharma, whom many believe to be the Father of Indian Cytology. She passed away on 14 January 2008.
Publications by Dr Archana Sharma
Throughout her career, Sharma has authored between 300 and 400 academic papers and ten books. Together with her husband, colleague professor Arun Kumar Sharma, she authored Chromosome Techniques: Theory and Practice in 1965.
She was also the creator and editor of Nucleus, an international journal of cytology and related issues, until 2007. She was a member of the Editorial boards for the Indian Journal of Experimental Biology and the Proceedings of the Indian National Science Academy.
Sharma edited a number of scientific volumes for publishers including CRC Press, Oxford, IBH, Kluwer Academic (Netherlands), and Gordon and Beach UK.