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Indian Express
By Prashant Pandey
Allahabad, India

Neha with A P J Abdul Kalam and her father at Rashtrapati Bhavan.Neha with A P J Abdul Kalam and her father at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
NEHA Mehrotra, who scored 94.4 per cent marks in CBSE's Class XII examination and secured a place in the list of top 10 meritorious students of Allahabad region, is no ordinary girl. She has been fighting congenital spinal muscular dystrophy.

In 2006, Neha was a recipient of the Bal Shri Award for her project on rainwater harvesting. In 2010, she participated in the CBSE Science Festival and won an award for her project on climate change.

Mehrotra opted for voluntary retirement while serving as assistant personnel officer in Indian Telephone Industry, Naini, in 2003 to "support Neha". His wife, Shama, holds a doctorate degree in Hindi. "But I never took up a job because I had to take care of her," she says.

Mehrotras manage with a pension of Rs 1,100 per month that he gets from the company. The government promises have remained only on paper. "When she won the Bal Shri Award, the then DM wrote to the state government saying they should adopt her. Nothing happened. A pension of Rs 300 for the physically challenged is lost in the bureaucratic labyrinth," says Mehrotra.

Taking her to the examination centre, 7 km from their house, was an exercise. "I would hire two rickshaws.

On one, I used to sit with Neha. On the other, my wife would sit with Neha's wheelchair."

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