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Help pours in for 13-year-old “wonder kid”

Atiq Khan
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Sushma Verma
Sushma Verma

Nobody will grudge the accolades earned by Lucknow 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 lyricist Javed Akhtar, a United States-based executive working with Microsoft and Kolhapur-based charitable organisation SKA Foundation, who have offered financial assistance to her, financial help for Sushma has now come from non-government organisation Sulabh International.

Sulabh International has decided to adopt the child prodigy. She has been rewarded Rs.5 lakh in cash, besides all possible assistance by the NGO for pursuing higher studies. “Sulabh Sanitation movement founder Bindheshwar Pathak will honour Sushma with the cash reward during his Lucknow visit next week,” said Manoj Jha, Advisor to Sulabh International.

Sushma has been described as a great motivator for children by Mr. Pathak, Mr. Jha added.

“Offers of assistance have also been received from Sunny Fernandez from Kuwait, Pradeep Agarwal from Goldrush in Lucknow, Shubodeep Kundu from Kolkata and Dr. Vinayak Prasad from the World Health Organisation [WHO] for further studies. Sushma’s future is absolutely secure as far as her studies are concerned,” Lucknow University Chief Proctor Manoj Dixit told The Hindu .

Times have been hard for the Verma family. Sushma’s father Tej Bahadur is a daily wage labourer and it was difficult for him to meet the expenses incurred on getting the admission in Lucknow University. He had to sell off 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. Sushma now lives with her parents in a single room in Bargawan village, not far off from the place they used to live.

Professor Dixit said the university authorities were rearranging for a suitable accommodation, where the girl can live with her parents.

He said Sushma’s parents and she herself were not inclined towards the 13-year-old living in the hostel along with students of a different age group. The Chief Proctor was hopeful that by Wednesday a suitable place will be found for the family.

Susham passed her Class X examination from St. Meera’s College at the age of seven and Class XII 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.


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