From HT Archives: Delight for India as Sushmita Sen is Miss Universe | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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From HT Archives: Delight for India as Sushmita Sen is Miss Universe

By, Manila
May 31, 2024 05:44 AM IST

Miss India Sushmita Sen became the first Indian to win the Miss Universe title since the beauty pageant began 43 years ago

Miss India Sushmita Sen on May 21, 1994 became the first Indian to win the Miss Universe title since the beauty pageant began 43 years ago.

Sushmita Sen exults after she was named the winner of Miss Universe in 1994, as Carolina Gomez (right) of Colombia reacts beside her on May 21, 1994, in the Philippines. (AFP)
Sushmita Sen exults after she was named the winner of Miss Universe in 1994, as Carolina Gomez (right) of Colombia reacts beside her on May 21, 1994, in the Philippines. (AFP)

A successful model from New Delhi, Sushmita, 18, was crowned the new Miss Universe, 1994, besting 76 other candidates from around the world, by an international panel of judges at the Philippine Convention Centre in Manila.

The first runner-up was Miss Colombia, 19-year-old Carolina Gomez, and the second runner-up was Miss Venezuela, Minorka Mercado, 22.

Sen wept as she received her crown from the outgoing Miss Universe, Dayanara Torres of Puerto Rico, after a two-hour pageant telecast to an estimated 600 million viewers in 60 countries.

Among the 10 semi-finalists were Miss Slovak Republic Silvia Lakatosova, Miss Philippines Carelene Gonzalez, Miss Greece Rea Toutounzi, Miss Switzerland Patricia Faessler, Miss Italy Adriana David, Miss Sweden Dominique Forsberg, and Miss USA Lu Parker.

During a press conference, Sushmita urged the Indian women to show greater self-confidence and self-determination.

“You must know what you want and get it,” she said.

During the final questioning, each of the three finalists was asked to describe her idea of the “essence of a woman”. “The origin of the child is the mother and is a woman,” she said. “Α woman is one who shows a man what love and sharing and caring is all about. That is the essence of a woman.”

Earlier, she described India as a nation of love because numerous ethnic and religious groups live in relative harmony.

The new Miss Universe will receive $215,000 in cash and prizes. The first runner-up won $5,000 and jewellery and the second runner-up $3,000 and jewellery.

Sushmita said she wanted to pursue a career in the theatre, advertising or writing, the Japanese Kyodo News Agency reported.

“Women in India have now become more aware of their rights as individuals and are now opting for higher positions at work, at the same time being a perfect at home,” she said in a written personal profile.

Sushmita also said she wanted to meet Mother Teresa, whom she described as a “perfect example of a person who is totally selfless, devoted and unconditional.”

And “if I had the chance and the money I would do something for the children who are downtrodden”, she told the judges during the interview part of the pageant.

Asked if there was anything she would have to give up as a person now that she was Miss Universe, Sushmita, a dark horse in the competition who received little attention in the Manila Press, said: “For the next one year, you give up the reality that you belong to India.”

She said rapid population growth was “the mother problem” of the world because it bred poverty but politics did not interest her because “it’s too complicated, it makes life miserable”.

“Women of today should be given more freedom of thought and opportunity to act the way they want to,” she said, adding: “I’m sure they can make the world a better place.”

To a male reporter who asked when she was going to get married, she said: ‘If you have a proposal, let me know.”

On the streets outside the Convention Centre, where the contest was held, police blocked women’s rights activists who tried to march to the pageant.

Wearing sashes describing themselves as “Miss Unemployment”, “Miss Landless” and “Miss Political Detainee”, the activists chanted anti-government slogans.

In preliminary finals, Miss Venezuela, a member of her country’s national volleyball team, won the swimsuit competition. Miss Slovak Republic, who spoke of the excitement which accompanied the collapse of communism, scored highest in the interview. Miss Colombia, who works with unwed teenage mothers, finished first in evening gown competition.

Winners of preliminary competition received $1,000 each.

The Philippines, where beauty queens are revered, last hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 1974, two years after the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos imposed eight years of martial law.

Critics at the time accused Marcos of using the pageant to distract attention from his crackdown on civil liberties. This time, the government has said it hopes the pageant will draw attention to the Philippines as a tourism venue.

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