Roop Rekha Verma, an 80-year-old philosophy professor, defies traditional academic stereotypes by actively engaging with the community on the streets of Uttar Pradesh. Over four decades, she has translated abstract philosophical concepts such as equality, freedom, and justice into grassroots activism. Verma is not confined to the ivory tower; instead, she is a dynamic combination of ideas, ideology, and ideals. Her work has earned her formidable foes, including former vice-chancellors at Lucknow University and members of the RSS. In 2022, she gained national attention for joining the Supreme Court petition against the remission granted to Bilkis Bano‘s rapists. Although she had never met Bano, she felt compelled to take action against the injustice. The Supreme Court later set aside the remission. Prior to this, Verma volunteered to be the bail guarantor for Siddique Kappan, a Kerala journalist jailed under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act while reporting on the controversial Hathras rape case. Even at the age of 80, Verma can be seen on the streets, distributing pamphlets on communal harmony. Her commitment to public awareness dates back to the 1980s when she recognized the need to counter divisive politics. As the founder of the NGO Saajhi Duniya (Shared World), Verma emphasizes the importance of engaging with the public to create awareness. She acknowledges the challenge of leftist jargon and advocates for understanding and communicating with everyday people in a relatable manner. Verma’s philosophy goes beyond academic discourse, manifesting in tangible activism that addresses societal issues at the grassroots level.
Repurposed article originally published in the Print