🇮🇳 What does hosting Miss World mean for India today? | The Stream

News of Miss World returning to India has rekindled memories of the competition’s tumultuous history in the country, when in 1996, violent protests were fuelled over a fear that encompassed both western cultural imperialism as well as threats to the dignity of Indian women.

Members of an Indian feminist group threatened to commit mass suicide. Both right-wing politicians and left-wing student groups raised their voices together in opposition. Thousands of police were sent to Bengaluru to guard the pageant, which, due to safety concerns, relocated its swimsuit competition to Seychelles. One pageant protester died from self-immolation.

More than two decades since the chaos of the Miss World competition, what does hosting the contest mean for India today?

Indian beauty queens have long used pageants to build bigger careers in Bollywood and abroad. And more competitions are promoting ideas of female empowerment, freedom and leadership. But critics see the concept of a televised contest pitting women against each other based on narrow standards of beauty, evening gowns, and an interview question as a relic rooted in patriarchy.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at how Indian women relate to the spectacle and business of beauty pageants.

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