After making a statement that the internet existed at the time of the Mahabharata, the Chief Minister of the North Eastern Indian state of Tripura, Biplab Kumar Deb, on Thursday put his foot in the mouth again by saying that beauty pageants are a farce and questioned the rationale behind crowning the brown skinned Diana Hayden as “Miss World” 21 years ago.
The BJP leader was all praise for Aishwarya Rai who won the Miss World crown in 1994, saying she “represented Indian women in the true sense.”
“These beauty pageant organizers are an international marketing mafia, who spotted a huge market in the country. Today, there is a beauty parlor in every corner of the country,” he said.
Deb’s comments came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi cautioned the BJP leaders to steer clear of controversial remarks and not offer “masala” to the media by making irresponsible statements.
The Tripura chief minister also claimed that international beauty contests are a farce as the results are predetermined.
“Whoever contested the international beauty pageants won. For five consecutive years, we won the Miss World/Miss Universe awards. Diana Hayden won it too. Do you think she should have won the title?” Deb asked.
Addressing a day-long design workshop on handlooms and handicrafts at the Prajna Bhavan here, Deb spoke in a mixture of Bengali and Hindi:
“Those who give certificates are all international textile market mafia. They plan beforehand who will get the award and this is 100 per cent true,” Deb said.
He said he failed to understand the “process of judgement” of the crowning of the Miss World contest in 1997, in which Diana Hayden had got the award.
“We see women as goddess Laxmi, Saraswati. Aishwarya Rai represents Indian women. She became the Miss World and that’s all right. But I do not understand the beauty of Diana Hayden,” Deb, who became the chief minister last month, said.
“Why are there no more beauty pageant winners from India? They (the jury) have captured the market in the country and have gone elsewhere,” he claimed.
Diana Hayden Retorts
Diana Hayden slammed the Tripura Chief Minister for for questioning her win at the Miss World pageant in 1997, saying it is “hurtful” as it exposes how Indians stigmatize the brown skin when in fact they should be proud of it.
In a statement headlined: ‘That’s some strong disapproval of me winning the Miss World title!’ Hayden said it is ironical that she should be criticized for spreading “appreciation of our Indian brown exotic beauty”.
“It’s a pity and shame that when you win the biggest and most respected beauty pageant in the world, you get criticised and put down as opposed to being appreciated and respected for bringing more accolades back home and further appreciation of our Indian brown exotic beauty. It’s also hurtful,” she said in a statement to Press Trust of India.
Hayden also said she understands why Deb compared her to Aishwarya and not to former Miss World Priyanka Chopra and the recently crowned Manushi Chhillar.
“It’s obvious that our skin color difference is on his mind as he’s comparing me to Ash and not Priyanka or Manushi who currently holds the Miss World title, and very deservedly so! Shame on him as our beautiful, exotic brown coloring is to be proud of. I sure am!” she said.
Hayden said it took her time to realize that her skin color is beautiful despite facing biases for being brown-skinned.
“What is especially sad is the bigger issue here. Being brown skinned, I’ve had to fight (society’s attitude and while growing up my own lack of self confidence because of my darker skin color) the ‘light skin is better’ issue we have in India.
“I felt so strongly about it that I turned down a fairness cream ad because it went against my belief. We are Indians and predominantly our skin color is brown and we should be really proud of it and learn to appreciate it like it’s appreciated around the world,” she said.