Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey | TNN, Sep 3, 2011, 03.37AM IST
KOLKATA: While some consider her to be nothing more than a sacrificial lamb, there are others who have been congratulating her on Facebook for taking up cudgels against mighty Mamata Banerjee. But Nandini Mukhopadhyay could be best described as an epitome of cool and poise. For her, contesting the forthcoming bypolls from the Bhowanipore constituency with a CPI(M) ticket is just another assignment. And she has always completed her assignments with aplomb.
Forty-five-year-old Nandini is the most loved faculty member at Jadavpur University (JU) where she has been teaching computer science engineering since 1992. She had worked in two private firms - Software Org Systems and MN Dastoor - before that. A student of Kamala Girls' High School and Patha Bhavan, Nandini was always a bright scholar with computers her first love. After clearing the joint entrance examination, she studied computer science engineering at the then Bengal Engineering College (now Bengal Engineering and Science University).
Even after joining JU's tech faculty, her quest for creating next generation computers continued. She took a break from teaching to complete her PhD at University of Manchester. "In those days, computers worked on a single processor. My research was on parallel computing or on multiple processors that would increase the speed of the computer while making it a multi-tasker," she shyly explained in layman's language. Even today, when she is not teaching, you will find Nandini working to spread computer literacy among the underprivileged with like-minded friends. You will find her imparting computer lessons to poor kids in nondescript lanes and bylanes.
"I joined a movement to create free software that can be used for spreading computer literacy among people. This will help put computers to multiple use without spending much," she explained. With 10 research scholars working under her, Nandini is trying to do something innovative on grid computing and wireless sensor network.
But isn't contesting an election a tad different from her classroom and laboratory work? "Indeed. But I will give it my best shot. I was associated with the SFI during my college days and had been in the executive council of JUTA, my university's teachers' political wing, for a long time. So I'm not as far removed from politics as you might think!" she laughed.
But is the thought of fighting Mamata Banerjee scaring her, albeit, a wee bit? "Not at all," she quips. "I don't think this is a personal battle. We who have been baptized in Left politics know how to take a detached view of such things. I think my party has given me a great opportunity to fight for a cause and to uphold the values of the Left movement at a very difficult time. I will definitely try to win," she said with conviction.
How does she rate her opponent? "She is indeed mighty and I respect her for the fact that she has single-handedly catapulted her party to power with a landslide victory. I will walk the miles at the hustings backed by this respect but will also try to uphold our point," she said.