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12 Indian Women Who Have Won International Beauty Pageants—And Their Winning Answers!

India bagged its first 'Big Four' title in 1966 when Reita Faria became the first Asian woman to win the Miss World crown.

Ever since 1966, these gorgeous Indian women have been creating history by winning prestigious international beauty pageants. Read the inspiring stories, below.

Manushi Chhillar—Miss World 2017

Model and actor Manushi Chhillar was the sixth representative from India to win the Miss World pageant in 2017. Formerly, she represented the state of Haryana at the Femina Miss India 2017, which she also won. Not many are aware that the pageant winner cleared the All India Pre Medical Test (now, NEET) in her first attempt and was pursuing a medical degree at the Bhagat Phool Singh Medical College in Sonipat. Four years after her accomplishment, Manushi will be seen portraying the role of Sanyogita in the upcoming historical drama film 'Prithviraj', alongside Akshay Kumar. Taking to Instagram, Manushi wrote, "November will be special forever! Feeling emotional, elated, thrilled, nervous, curious—all at the same time. Can’t wait for what lies ahead."

Manushi Chhillar's Answer That Won Her the Crown

Question: Which profession should receive the highest salary in the world? Answer: "A mother's profession should receive the highest salary and respect in the world. Since I'm very close to my mother, I think a mother deserves love and respect, I don't think it's just about salary but about love and respect you give to someone and I think my mom has always been the biggest inspiration in my life and all mothers they sacrifice so much for their kids. So I think the profession of highest respect and salary should be that of a mother."

Lara Dutta—Miss Universe 2000

In 1995, Lara Dutta won the annual Gladrags Megamodel India competition that won her the right to enter the 1997 Miss Intercontinental Pageant, which she won. At Miss Universe 2000 in Cyprus, Lara received the highest individual score in any category in the history of the Miss Universe contest, with a majority of the judges giving her 9.99 marks!

Lara Dutta's Answer That Won Her the Crown

Question: Right now, there is a protest that has been staged outside the stadium posing pageants as an affront to women. Convince them that they are wrong. Answer: "Pageants like Miss Universe gives us young women a platform to foray into the fields that we want to and forge ahead, be it entrepreneurship, be it the armed forces, be it politics. It gives us a platform to voice our choices and opinions, and makes us strong and independent that we are today."

Priyanka Chopra—Miss World 2000

Winner of the Miss World 2000 pageant, Priyanka Chopra Jonas is one of India's most successful and highest-paid actors today. With one foot in Hollywood, the model-turned-actor has several feathers in her cap; a singer, an entrepreneur, an actor, and a film producer. After winning the title at the age of 18, she made her film debut in 2002 in Abbas-Mustan's romantic thriller 'Humraaz' (2002). Following that, the celebrity rose from strength to strength!

Priyanka Chopra's Answer That Won Her the Crown

Question: If you were a police officer in the garden of Eden, who would you punish for the original sin—Adam, Eve or the Serpent? Answer: "If I was a police officer in the garden of Eden, I would punish Satan, the Serpent, because I believe that evil is instigated, not created. Eve thought Satan was right, she believed him. Let us get a moral from this, to decipher between good and bad without being biased."

Sushmita Sen—Miss Universe 1994

In 1994, Sushmita Sen won the Femina Miss India Universe title, which gave her the right to compete at the Miss Universe 1994 contest. She became the first Indian to bag the International title in the same year. Following the big win, she forayed into Indian cinema, making her debut in the film 'Dastak' (1996).

Sushmita Sen's Answer That Won Her the Crown

Question: What is the essence of being a woman? Answer: "Just being a woman is God’s gift that all of us must appreciate. The origin of a child is a mother and is a woman. She shows a man what sharing, caring, and loving is all about. That is the essence of a woman."

Aishwarya Rai—Miss World 1994

In the same year as Sushmita Sen's big win, Aishwarya Rai managed to bag the Miss World title, defeating 87 contestants competing from around the world. In the 1994 Miss India pageant, she had won second place, behind Sushmita Sen. Following Sushmita's footsteps, the 21-year-old made her acting debut in 1997 with Mani Ratnam's Tamil film 'Iruvar', a semi-biographical political drama

Aishwarya Rai's Answer That Won Her the Crown

Question: What are the qualities Miss World should embody? Answer: "The Miss Worlds that we have had up to date, have been proof enough that they have had compassion. Compassion for the underprivileged and not only for the people who have status and stature. We have had people, who can look beyond the barriers that man has set up – of nationalities and colour. We have to look beyond those and that would make a true Miss World. A true person, a real person."

Reita Faria—Miss World 1966

Reita Faria Powell is an Indian physician, former model, and the first Asian woman to have won the Miss World crown in 1966. Born to Goan parents, she first bagged the Miss Bombay Crown in the same year. Unlike many other pageant winners, she turned down opportunities to foray into modelling or acting and instead focused on her medical studies. The 78-year-old now lives in Dublin, Ireland, with her husband, David Powell, and their two children.

Reita Faria's Answer That Won Her the Crown

A medical student at the time, Reita was asked why she wanted to become a doctor. She replied that India needed more obstetricians and gynaecologists. The jury then added that India already has a lot of babies. She quickly retorted and said that that was something we needed to discourage.

Diana Hayden—Miss World 1997

Diana Hayden represented India at the 47th edition of the Miss World pageant held in Baie Lazare, Seychelles. Competing against 86 delegates, she won the title and was also crowned Miss World, Asia and Oceania. Following this, she moved to London and studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. The pageant winner has also written a book titled 'A Beautiful Truth', which is an "encyclopedia on grooming, and also deals with personality development and confidence-building".

Diana Hayden's Answer That Won Her the Crown

Question: Why do you want to become Miss World? Answer: "I draw inspiration from a famous writer and poet, William Butler Yeats, who once wrote, 'With Dreams Begin Responsibility.' Well, for me, this title is that dream and the responsibility it brings. I cherish that in a small way I could make a difference and help the dreams of others. Thank you."

Yukta Mookhey—Miss World 1999

Bangalore-born Yukta Mookhey represented India at the 49th edition of the Miss World pageant, held at Olympia, London, with 93 delegates competing for the title. Since she won the Miss India World 1999 crown, she got the right to enter the Miss World 1999 contest. Thereafter, she involved herself in several social and charitable causes.

Yukta Mookhey's Answer That Won Her the Crown

Yukta Mookhey was asked what advice she had for her parents, as their daughter. She said, "I would tell my parents that in the values that you've taught me, I'll still stand by you no matter what, and hope that we can set an example for the rest of the world to see what family values and ethics are all about."

Dia Mirza—Miss Asia Pacific 2000

The second runner-up at the Femina Miss India 2000, Dia Mirza went on to win the Miss Asia Pacific title in 2000 in Manila, the Philippines. She completed the hat-trick of India winning international pageants in the year 2000 after Lara Dutta and Priyanka Chopra won international pageant titles in the same year.

Zeenat Aman—Miss Asia Pacific 1970

In 1970, Zeenat Aman participated in the Femina Miss India pageant where she came in second place. Following this, she competed in the Miss Asia Pacific International pageant, which she won, becoming the first Femina Miss India titleholder to win the pageant. Later, she forayed into Indian cinema, first appearing in 'The Evil Within' (1970) alongside Dev Anand.

Tara Anne Fonseca—Miss Asia Pacific 1973

Tara Anne Fonseca was the winner of Miss Asia Pacific 1973 contest, becoming one of the earliest successful models from India. Born in Bangalore, Karnataka, she was the second runner-up of the annual Femina Miss India competition in the same year.

Nicole Estelle Faria—Miss Earth 2010

Indian actress and model Nicole Estelle Faria won the Miss Earth pageant in 2010 in Vietnam. She won the Miss India Earth title in 2009, which allowed her to represent the nation at an international level.