Sadikshya Shrestha crowned Miss Nepal 2010 (Lead)

September 1st, 2010 - 9:10 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Sep 1 (IANS) A supremely confident Sadikshya Shrestha, who would like to see world-class scientists emerge from Nepal, beat 17 other finalists to become Dabur Special-Hidden Treasure Miss Nepal 2010 at a scaled-down pageant here Wednesday, marked by opposition by the Maoists and a campaign against the main sponsor - Dabur Nepal.

Shrestha, who had tried her hand at the Miss Teen Nepal contest in 2007, won the judges’ approval with her answer to the decisive final question put to all five finalists: In which three sectors would she invest for a more responsible and accountable youth in Nepal.

Her answer was science and technology - so that there would be world-class scientists from Nepal, industries - to give talented Nepalis a platform to show it, and grooming - so that they would know how to present themselves, “just as the 18 semifinalists have”.

The bets on Shrestha began piling up when she was selected for three of the other nine awards: Miss Smart Walk, Miss Personality and Miss Photogenic.

With the crown comes the chance to represent Nepal at the Miss World 2010 pageant in Sanya, China in December, a cheque for NRS 50,000 and a Chery car. The crown also carries the responsibilities of being the brand ambassador for Nepal government’s bid to bring 1 million tourists next year and the conservation ambassador for the Nepal chapter of World Wildlife Fund.

Shrestha’s toughest rival Sahana Bajracharya was selected the first runner-up and will now represent Nepal at the Miss Earth 2010 pageant in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh city.

As the nearly three-hour contest, including an amazing ballet by Nepal Music School and a hip-hop number, got underway at the Tribhuvan Army Officers’ Club in Kathmandu, there was palpable tension all around.

Nepal’s oldest and most popular beauty pageant remains under siege.

Since 2006, when the Maoist guerrillas signed a peace accord and returned from their bunkers in the jungles, the contest has been facing opposition by the women’s organisation of the former rebels.

In 2008, when the Maoists came to power after winning the elections, Miss Nepal was the first casualty with the All Nepal Women’s Federation (Revolutionary) lobbying the council of ministers and preventing the pageant from being held.

Though the women MPs from the party say they are opposing the contest because it reduces women to commodities and is blind aping of western cultures, the fact remains that they have allowed dozens of other beauty contests to be held without any fuss.

The main opposition to Miss Nepal stems from the fact that its main sponsor is Indian ayurvedic company Dabur India’s Nepal venture, Dabur Nepal.

In the course of their 10-year war, the Maoists have frequently targeted Indian ventures and joint ventures in Nepal. Despite the peace pact agreeing not to target industries, the Maoist trade union has been arm-twisting Indian companies into hiking pay and perks.

This year, besides the Maoist animosity, Dabur Nepal also faces a virulent campaign by a section of the media that has not been receiving any advertisements.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at sudeshna.s@ians.in)

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