Dabur defies Maoists, sets Miss Nepal date

August 11th, 2008 - 4:03 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Aug 11 (IANS) Indian ayurvedic giant Dabur has defied the diktat of Nepal’s Maoists and said the Miss Nepal beauty pageant it sponsors annually will not be discontinued. It has fixed Aug 23 as the date for the country’s oldest and biggest beauty contest. Dabur Nepal, Dabur India’s wholly owned subsidiary that funds the beauty pageant to promote its Dabur Vatika brand of cosmetics, and Hidden Treasure, the event management company organising the show, said they had fixed Aug 23 as the date for the pageant and hoped it would scotch all erroneous media reports that the event had been scrapped.

Last week, the media both at home and abroad had said Miss Nepal 2008 had been cancelled due to mounting opposition by the women’s wing of the Maoists, who are likely to head the new government of Nepal.

The Akhil Nepal Mahila Sangh (Krantikari), which had also opposed the contest last year, said it had started a campaign to stop the abuse of women and had chosen to kick it off with the protests against Miss Nepal.

The protesters last week padlocked the office of the event management firm and coerced the state-run Nepal Television station not to broadcast the show live.

With the Maoists’ growing resentment against India, whom they blame for the delay in the formation of a government spearheaded by their party, the anger against the pageant is also due to the fact that the main sponsor is an Indian company.

“We expect Dabur to fly in an Indian minister to armtwist Nepal’s government into allowing the pageant,” a Maoist protester told the organisers. “But we will not allow it to take place.”

The Maoist opposition has triggered a raging public debate in Nepal, with many people supporting the show.

An SMS poll conducted by a private television station showed that 62 percent of the callers wanted the pageant to be held.

The 20 young women who have been shortlisted for the contest are also defending it, saying it did not promote obscenity and empowered the winners.

Miss Nepal is one of the few beauty pageants in the world that does not have a swim suit round out of deference to the conservative national culture.

The pageant has also been championed by Nepal’s “daughter of the soil”.

The “Pawankali” show on Kantipur TV, one of Nepal’s most popular shows in which the host is the persona of rural Nepal, has asked Maoist women’s leader and lawmaker Amrita Thapa why she had a “headache” over the programme when the contestants’ parents encouraged them to take part.

Thapa was also asked why she didn’t protest against far more serious issues like growing trafficking of Nepali women, prostitution and the proliferation of dance bars in the heart of the capital where nude shows went on.

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