Haryana is tagged as one of India's most notorious states when it comes to the condition of women and their progress. It has an abysmal sex ratio of 879 and female foeticide is still practised rampantly across the state. Home to a series of honour killings, rapes and molestation, women in Haryana have often been subdued to the backdrop. Despite this, Haryana has time and again projected women on the international front, with wrestler Sakshi Malik, ace shuttler Saina Nehwal and revered astronaut Kalpana Sharma all hailing from the state which has been repeatedly castigated for not being able to implement a safe haven for its women living here. The state added another feather to its cap when 20-year old Manushi Chhillar was crowned the new Ms World on November 18, in China.
After a drought of 17-years, India won this coveted crown which has previously been claimed by the likes of Priyanka Chopra, Aishwarya Rai, Diana Haydon and Yukta Mookhey. The 90's had marked India's glorious time in beauty pageants with six representatives bagging the Ms World and Ms Universe titles. However, since Priyanka Chopra's victory in 2000, India had left no remarkable mark on the world of beauty pageants. Chhillar, a medical student from Haryana finally broke that dead-end by emerging victorious in a glitzy event held at Sanya, China. Celebrations were abound across India, with rampant love ushered on Chhillar. Her victory must be used as a pedestal to capitalise on the cause of women's empowerment, especially in Haryana where progress on this front has been the slowest. Chhillar, as her social initiative, had adopted the cause of menstrual hygiene which is amiss in India's rural areas, where menstruation is still a tabooed subject and women lack the adequate knowledge of their body's wellbeing. Beauty pageants like the Ms World competition are not simply a celebration of grossly overrated standards of beauty that are celebrated the world over.
This is also a platform that propels for achieving goals in social service by promoting dedicated causes that plague today's world economies. Chhillar's pet project on menstrual hygiene that has already benefited some parts of rural India must be actively adopted using this platform to elevate the conditions of the thousands of women across India whose lack of knowledge has led to inadequate hygiene being adopted that later can lead to infection and disease. Chhillar's face would be a reminder to the families in Haryana that the woman can be as powerful as the man provided she is provided with the correct nourishment and platform to adequately access her equal rights.
The glory of the crown shouldn't be submerged in personal goals only. As Chhillar has dedicated herself to social upliftment she must continue pursuing that on the global platform provided by the Ms World pageant. Women's empowerment is a plaguing concern for India even today, and victories such as these ought to reinforce action towards building an equal society for women. Beauty without service would dim India's glory on this platform.