“Sushma’s future is secure as far as her studies are concerned”

Nobody will grudge the accolades earned by Lucknow’s child prodigy, Sushma Verma, and the offer of financial help from individuals and organisations for pursuing her studies. As the 13-year-old wonder kid basks in the glory of becoming the youngest student to pursue a Master’s course — M.Sc. in Microbiology from Lucknow University — it’s raining funds for her. After noted film lyricist and one with a strong “Lakhnavi” connection, Javed Akhtar; a U.S.-based executive working with the Microsoft Corporation; and a Kolhapur-based charitable organisation, SKA Foundation, offered financial assistance to her, financial help for Ms. Verma has now come from Sulabh International.

The NGO has decided to adopt the child prodigy and will provide all possible assistance to her for pursuing higher studies. “The founder of Sulabh Sanitation movement, Bindeshwari Pathak, will honour Sushma Verma with a cash reward of Rs. 5 lakh when he visits Lucknow next week,” said Manoj Jha, adviser to Sulabh International. She had been described as a great motivator for children by the Sulabh founder, Mr. Jha added.

“Assistance has also been offered by Sunny Fernandez from Kuwait, Pradeep Agarwal from Goldrush, Lucknow; Shubodeep Kundu from Kolkata and Dr. Vinayak Prasad from the World Health Organisation for further studies. Sushma’s future is absolutely secure as far as her studies are concerned,” Manoj Dixit, Chief Proctor of Lucknow University, told The Hindu.

A tough road

Times have been hard for the Verma family. Sushma Verma’s father, Tej Bahadur, is a daily wage labourer and it was difficult for him to meet the expenses for her admission to Lucknow University. He had to sell one bigha of land to pay the first instalment of about Rs. 25,000 to confirm a seat in the university. The child prodigy’s name appeared in the second cut-off merit list for postgraduate courses declared on August 26. The family used to live in a dingy single room accommodation in St. Meera’s Inter College on Kanpur road, but they were asked to vacate the premises about two months ago. Ms. Verma now lives with her parents in a single room in Bargawan village.

Professor Manoj Dixit said the university was arranging for a suitable accommodation where the girl could live with her parents. He said the parents and the girl herself were not inclined to her living in a hostel along with students of a different age group. Ms. Verma passed her Class 10 (High School) examination from St. Meera’s College at the age of 7 and Intermediate at the age of 10. She pursued B.Sc. in Zoology and Botany from CMS Degree College. Her brother Shailendra holds the distinction of being the youngest Computer Science graduate at the age of 14.