Model hopes to return to books and backbenches at JNU

As model Indrani Dasgupta walked the ramp in a Shantanu-Nikhil creation at the Lakme India Fashion Week in Mumbai on Friday, she probably wasn't thinking of all those theories of how miniskirts flag up a bull market and long ones signal the return of the bear. But once off the ramp, all the years she spent taking down notes on the back benches of the Economics Department at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) will come in handy if she had to hold forth on the economy and the fashion industry.

What few people know is how the world of this dusky model and that of the Economics Department of JNU intersect. The story of how this student of economics—and the face of anti-ageing creams—and professors like C.P. Chandrashekhar, Jayati Ghosh and Prabhat Patnaik (who is now an advisor to the Planning Commission in Kerala) were once in the same classroom is a fascinating one. Also fascinating is how this ramp scorcher hopes to return to her classes at JNU some day.

Dasgupta completed her masters in economics from JNU in 2004 and says she proposes to get back someday "to the world which intrigued and interested her, like the world of trade, where the developed Western world sought to engage with the agricultural world, labour laws, women labour laws and social and developmental aspects."

The Economics Department is remarkably well-knit, has strong Left credentials and is among the most powerful and respected bastions of Left economics in the country. The University is usually critiqued for its fiery student politics and for wishing to hold onto a world that defies time. But Dasgupta recalls how she juggled her fledgling modeling career and her days as a student of Economics and gratefully acknowledges the spirit of the University that ensured that she could take exams, complete her course work and credits the fellowship amongst students, teachers and others who ensured that she could get hold of notes, readings and complete her post-graduation as she was very keen to do.

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