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Monday, 18 December, 2000, 17:09 GMT
Miss World defends beauty contests
Men looking at billboard in Bombay
Beauty contests now have a big following in India
The new Miss World, Priyanka Chopra, has defended beauty pageants following criticism in India that they are merely a marketing exercise for cosmetics companies.

Priyanka Chopra
Priyanka Chopra: 'Contests are more than a marketing ploy'
Ms Chopra said she did not believe that the recent spree of Indian women winning such competitions was a ploy by multinational companies eager to break in to the Indian market.

She was speaking at a news conference in Delhi on her return to India after beating 94 other contestants for the $100,000 prize in London last month.

She is due to travel on to her home town of Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh state, where the chief minister recently imposed a ban on beauty contests.

Beauty ban

Ms Chopra avoided criticising the ban directly, saying she did not know much about it.

However, she added that had it been in place last year, she would not have won the Miss World title.

The Chief Minister, Rajnath Singh, has said that women are not saleable commodities and that the ethos propagated in the name of beauty contests does not accord with Indian culture.

'Living legend'

In other remarks, Ms Chopra defended her choice of Mother Teresa when she was asked at the contest which living person she most admired.

She explained that for her, Mother Teresa was a living legend, and "she does live on for me".

Mother Teresa, a Nobel peace laureate, died in1997.

India has won the Miss World contest twice in the past seven years.

The country now holds both the Miss World and Miss Universe titles, and beauty contests have attracted a much greater following as a result.

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See also:

01 Dec 00 | South Asia
India hails Miss World win
30 Nov 00 | UK
Miss World contest at 50
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