Anushka Panda, who scored 97.8% in her Class X CBSE board exams, was mentioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his radio show ‘Mann Ki Baat’.

Who is Anushka?

Anushka was born with  “spinal muscular atrophy”, a genetic disease that slowly reduces a person’s physical strength. A student of Suncity School, she passed her board exams in the differently-abled category this year, reported TOI.

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The disease hampers one’s way of walking as well as his/her eating ability. Sometimes, it also becomes difficult for the person to breathe.

The 15-year-old said, “Initially, I found it extremely difficult to make friends in school. No one would talk to me. But with time, I was able to carve out a space for me.”

Even though she faced difficulty while preparing for her exams, she didn’t back out. “I cannot sit for long, I need small breaks. But I had to study for long hours, keeping in mind the vast syllabus we have,” she said.

Anushka wrote her exams on a special bench provided to her by the school.

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Speaking about the support she received from her parents, she said, “From the beginning, my parents have never treated me like a special child. They got me admitted to a private school along with normal students.”

PM Modi mentions her in Mann Ki Baat

The Prime Minister — in the 46th edition of his radio show — said, “I came across the news of Gurugram’s differently-abled daughter, Anushka Panda. Anushka didn’t let her disability deter her from becoming the all-India topper.”

Anushka recalls that she was informed a day prior to his show by DD News that she would be mentioned in the speech.

“I was informed by a news channel on Saturday that the Prime Minister would mention me in his Mann Ki Baat speech. I felt elated, as people would draw inspiration from my life. The PM’s message concentrated on how people have overcome odds to taste success,” she said.

Anushka, who is often heard behind a microphone doing commentary during football matches, aspires to be a software engineer one day.

Picture Credit: NDTV

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Kriti Dwivedi is an intern with SheThePeople.Tv

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