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Miss World 1996



                Before starting with the 1996 Miss World pageant, let us remember the shocking news events of that year: the US launches two missile attacks against Iraq and the Taliban take the Afghan capital, while Princess Diana and Prince Charles of Wales divorce and the French President Jacques Chirac announced the end of nuclear testing. Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin are reelected as Presidents of the US and Russia, while Yasir Arafat is re-elected President of the Palestinian Authority, Leonel Fernández assumes the presidency of the Dominican Republic and Kofi Annan of Ghana is elected Secretary General of the UN. In Guatemala the civil war that lasted 36 years officially ends. Two earthquakes shake China, Indonesia and Peru, the deadliest being that of Lijiang (China) with just over 300 victims. A tsunami just over 16 feet high , the product of one of these earthquakes of over 7 degrees, hit the Peruvian port of Chimbote with a dozen victims, while Puerto Rico was affected by Hurricane Hortense and North Carolina by Hurricanes Bertha and Fran. Thousands die in a cyclone in southeastern India. Bell Atlantic Mobile launches the first commercial network CDMA in the US, with cell phones of second generation with GMS. 1996 was a year of major air accidents.  Two commercial flights crashed in Peru, one of them the worst in the history of that country, and another air accident was the deadliest recorded on the coasts of Dominican Republic. In another fact, an Ethiopian airliner was kidnapped the same day of the election of Miss World ‘ 96 and fell to the sea just 500 meters from the hotel Le Galawa Beach of  Grande Comore, who had just hosted a group of candidates of that contest the previous year. Of the 175 people on board, 50 managed to survive. You will be able to find out about other accidents of this type that occurred this year a little later.

               In Atlanta (USA), the Olympic Games were held and in during it, a terrorist act happened when a homemade bomb, full of nails, exploded at the Centennial Olympic Park which left one dead and 111 wounded. Pope John Paul II makes his second visit to Venezuela, while scientists in Scotland manage to clone the first living being: Dolly the sheep. Indian Sabir Bhatia, 27, created the first email of the web, known as Hotmail and it became very popular, while Microsoft brings to the market the Windows NT 4.0. The European Union bans the export of British cattle because of mad cow disease. A few days before Christmas, a command of the MRTA (Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru) took by assault the residence of Morihisa Aoki, the Ambassador of Japan, in San Isidro, Lima (Peru), where they were celebrating a party, taking as hostages to some 800 people, including diplomats, government officials, the military and businessmen. Little by little hostages were released, among them the mother of President Alberto Fujimori and whose identity the kidnappers did not know, keeping 72 captives. Meanwhile, in Caracas (Venezuela), the case recalled “Hijacking in Terrazas de Ávila” occurs which culminates with a hostage and a kidnapper killed by the police.

                Venezuelan Alicia Machado becomes the fourth Miss Universe of her country by winning the event held in Las Vegas, a contest that five months later the billionaire Donald Trump bought. Machado’s triumph was widely publicized by the world press, not only for exceeding her weight after a few months of reign, but also because Venezuela held the Miss World title at that time with Jacqueline Aguilera and both had competed together in Miss Venezuela the previous year. On the other hand, Portugal achieved its first and so far only crown of a “grand slam” by obtaining the title of Miss International in Japan with Fernanda Alves. Meanwhile, the Belgian Tom Nuyens obtains the title of “Mister World” in its first edition, the Irish Eimear Quinn wins the Eurovision Song Contest in Norway with her song “The Voice”, the Spanish Anabel Russ triumphs in Ecuador with the song “Manos” at OTI and the film “Braveheart” wins the Academy Award. The movies “Independence Day”, “A Time to Kill”, “The English Patient”, “Scream”, “Rescue”, “Striptease”, “The Birdcage”, “Mission: impossible”, “Evita”, “The Nutty Professor”, “Mars Attack!” “Eraser”, “Escape from LA”,” Aladdin and the 40 Thieves”, “101 Dalmatians”, ” the Hunchback of Notre Dame”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Fargo” and “Twister”.

                On the radio we enjoyed the songs “Macarena” by Los Del Río, “Wannabe” by Spice Girls, “All By Myself”, “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” and “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion, “I Love You Always Forever “by Donna Lewis, “I Want You Back” by Nsync, “Get Down” and “I’ll Never Break Your Heart” by Backstreet Boys, “Freed from Desire” by Gala, “Insomnia” by Faithless, “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette, “Children” by Robert Miles, “One of Us” by Joan Osborne, “Un-Break My Heart” by Toni Braxton, “Coco Jamboo” by Mr President, “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt, “Lovefool” by “The Cardigans”, “Where Do You Go” by No Mercy, “How Deep is Your Love” by Take That, “Fire by Night, Snow by Day” by Ricky Martin, “I’m Here” and “Pies Descalzos , Sueños Blancos” by Shakira, “Azúcar Amargo” by Fey, “If the North were the South” by Ricardo Arjona, “I Can’t Pull You Off from Me” by Cristian Castro, “Baila Baila” by Chayanne, “From Sun to sun” Salser dex and “Solo Se Vive Una Vez” by Azucar Morena. The soap-opera “Luz Clarita” is released in Mexico. In 1996, the Puerto Rican Stephanie Del Valle (Miss World 2016), the Jamaican Toni-Ann Singh (Miss World 2019) and the youtuber and actress Lele Pons were born. The American comedian George Burns (at the age of 100 and who presented Miss World 1979 for US TV), the dancer and actress Juliet Prowse (judge in Miss World 1993), the actress Dorothy Lamour, the actors Gene Kelly and Marcello Mastroianni, Mexican singer Lola Beltrán, jazz player Ella Fitzgerald, model and actress Margaux Hemingway, French politician Francois Mitterrand, King Moshoeshoe II of Lesotho and Venezuelan sports narrator Delio Amado León died. Also passed away Argentine singer Gilda (in a car accident) and American rapper Tupac Shakur (killed in Las Vegas).



                 This year, several beauty queens died tragically. First, Marlo Balandran (26) of Topeka, Kansas and Lisa Pearson (32) , of Kansas City, Missouri, who shortly before had won their respective pageant’s categories at the “Ms Petite USA 1996”. The two beauty queens, in the exercise of their duties, lost their lives along with 108 other people when a ValuJet plane crashed in the Everglades (Florida, USA) a few minutes after taking off from Miami on May 11; both came from enjoying a cruise in the Caribbean that they had won as a prize in the beauty contest. Balandran was married and also celebrating her third year of marriage when she lost her life on the flight with her husband Thomas. It is worth mentioning that the aircraft was conducted by the pilot Candi Kubeck, who turned 35 the day before the accident, becoming the first US woman pilot to die in a commercial plane crash. Swedish Hillevi Rombin (62 , Miss Universe 1955) also died in another crash when the plane she was traveling on, crashed shortly after takeoff from Burbank, California, on June 19. Hillevi died on the spot with her husband David Schine (68) and one of their sons , Berndt (34) who piloted the small airplane; Polish Agnieszka Kotlarska (24, Miss International 1991) was stabbed three times in the chest in front of her home in Wroclaw on August 27 by a stalker who also injured her husband. Interestingly, Kotlarska had been saved from dying in the TWA800 plane crash that exploded and crashed into the ocean off New York on July 17 of that year. She had canceled her reservation at the last minute. Moreover, the girl JonBenet Ramsey (6, Little Miss Colorado ’95 ) was killed by asphyxia and skull-brain trauma in the basement of her home in Boulder (Colorado) on December 25 in a case that shocked the world and in which a culprit has not yet been found.


                In 1996, countries like China, Sri Lanka, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines decided not to continue with the Miss World franchise, but that did not bother the Morleys, who had another 100 national directors in as many countries. This year representatives from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Macedonia and Bonaire made their debut, while Grenada (absent since the Caribbean island won the crown in 1970 with Jennifer Hosten), Yugoslavia (when the veto ended after the war in the Balkans ended), Kenya, Tunisia and Uruguay. In Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Denmark and Malta, there were no Miss World competitions this year, so they would be absent, as was Honduras, which, once again, did not nominate any candidate. In Lithuania, the franchise passed into the hands of the Lithuanian-American businessman Benas Gudelis, who invited Jacqueline Aguilera to sign the contract.

                In the US, directors Guy and Rex did not hold a contest this year either, but at the end of July they appointed Kelly Webber, from El Paso, Texas, as their Miss World representative. The final in Canada also did not take place, so Michelle Weswaldi, who had won Miss World Ontario earlier that year, was named as Miss Canadian World. In Ecuador, they made a casting to choose the candidate for the Morley contest, where Karina Guerra Manzo was elected, but then withdrew and was replaced by Jennifer Graham. Argentina selected Fernanda Fernandez and, in Puerto Rico, the Miss World franchise changed hands and it was obtained by Delia Cruz, mother of Wilnelia Merced (Miss World 1975) who did not have time to hold a pageant. At first she wanted to send the 1st. runner-up of Miss Puerto Rico ’96 , the blonde Lilly Sein Martorell, representative of Rincon, but this did not materialize, so she did a casting where Marisa Hernández was chosen, who was known in the modeling world as Paula Navas. Here you can read about the different national competitions that were held this year:

*MISS UNIVERSE HUNGARY.- Andrea Deák, an 18-year-old university student , won the “Miss Universe Hungary” contest on Thursday, December 7, 1995 in Veszprém. Adrienn Bába was second and Mercédesz Mwajas was third. The official Miss Hungary was not held in 1996 and the organizers thought of Andrea to also send her to Miss World, so they asked her and she accepted, being this the first and only time that Hungary is represented in both contests by the same candidate.

* MISS FRANCE.- It was held on Saturday December 16, 1995 at the Congress of the Grand Palais de Lille with 45 participants. The final was broadcast live for the first time on TF1 and was hosted by Jean-Pierre Foucault, Geneviève de Fontenay and Xavier de Fontenay. The title went to Miss Pays de Savoie, Laure Belleville, who was sent to Miss Universe. The finalists were Caroline Cléry (Flandre and who was sent to Miss Europe), Nancy Delettrez (Côte d’Opale, to Miss International), Alicia Bausivoir (Guadeloupe) and Séverine Deroualle (Anjou, to Miss World).

* FEMINA MISS INDIA.- It was held on Monday, January 15 at the Andheri Stadium in Mumbai with 25 candidates. The winners were Sandhya Chib (for Miss Universe), Rani Jeyaraj (for Miss World) and Mini Menon (for Miss Asia Pacific). The top 5 was completed by Shonali Rosario and Gagandeep (last name not available).

* MISS SPAIN.- The finals took place on Thursday, February 1, this time with a live broadcast from the Palacio de Congresos y Exposiciones de Salamanca with the participation of 52 candidates. The winner and also selected as “Miss Tele-5” was the Sevillian María José Suárez Benítez who attended Miss Universe. The Maids of Honor were Miss Cantabria, Patricia Ruiz (to Miss World) and Miss Malaga, Aurelia Barrera Escalera (to Miss Europe, also Miss Elegance and Miss Beautiful Hair). The remaining finalists were Socorro Ortega Martín (Badajoz, also Miss Photogenic), María del Carmen Densel (La Coruña) , Ana Noelia Martín (Las Palmas), Beatriz Arvelo Correa (Tenerife) and Elena Pérez (Vizcaya).

* FRÖKEN SVERIGE.- After two days of competition, the 28 candidates for “Miss Sweden 1996” were reduced to only 10 thanks to the telephone vote of the public. The final took place on Saturday, March 9, in a TV4 studio. The winner was Miss Västergötland, Annika Duckmark, 24 (to Miss Universe ’96) and the finalists were Miss Gothenburg, Åsa Johansson, 21 (to Miss World ’96), and Miss Östergötland , Anna Olin, 23 (to Miss Europe ’96).

* BINIBINING PILIPINAS.- Aileen Damiles (Bb.Pilipinas Universe), Daisy Garcia Reyes (Bb.Pilipinas World) and Yedda Kittilstvedt (Bb.Pilipinas International) were the winners of the contest held on Saturday, March 16 at the Araneta Coliseum of Quezon City. The finalists were Maria Sovietskaya Bacud and Sonia Santiago. 36 candidates participated.

* MISS ISRAEL.- This year, the organization decided that the winner would go to Miss World because she was not 18 years old and the girl who came second would then go to Miss Universe. The winners were Talia “Tali ” Leventhal (Beauty Queen of Israel, to Miss World), Liraz Mesilaty (Maiden of Beauty, to Miss Universe), Ann Konopny (Queen of Grace, to Miss International), Kim Roslikov (Teen Queen, to Miss Europe) and Keren Schechter (Beauty Princess, to Miss Asia Pacific). The event was held on Monday March 18 in Tel-Aviv.

* MISS DOMINICAN REPUBLIC.- Once more, the Theater La Fiesta at the Hotel Jaragua served as the backdrop for the National Beauty Contest held on Tuesday, March 19th and where Sandra Abreu was crowned Miss Dominican Republic for Miss Universe. As Dominican Miss World, Idelsa Núñez was elected and Annelisse Ortiz Mirabal was crowned as Miss International Dominican, a title which she later resigned, for which Sandra Abreu replaced her in Miss International. Among the other winners were Selinee Méndez (Nuestra Belleza Dominicana), Kenya Castillo (Miss Hispanidad Dominican), Karoly Torres (Miss Maja Dominican) and Rosalí Lantigua (Miss Tourism World Dominican).

* STAR HELLAS.- The Greek beauty pageant was held on Monday, April 1st at the Diogenis Pallas in Athens. The winner, as “Star Hellas” was Nina Georgala, who went to Miss Universe. As Miss Hellas was crowned Eirini Skliva (Miss World) and the finalists were Rania Likoudi (to Miss International), Noni Dounia (to Miss Europe), Anna Reppa and Angelina Mavridou.

* MISS UKRAINE.- Natasha Shvachko, 22, from Enakievo, won the crown of “Miss Ukraine 1996” on Friday, April 5 at the October Palace, officially known as the Kiev International Center of Culture and Art, with the participation of 22 candidates. The finalists were Radmila Lalazarova, Polina Voynevich and Elizaveta Yakovleva. After several years, the titleholder was sent to Miss World, who also won a trip to Atlanta for the opening of the Olympic games.

* MISS TUNISIA.- After many years without celebrating the Miss Tunisia contest, Mrs. Aida Antar took the reins of the national beauty pageant in that country and its first edition was held on Sunday, April 7. The winner was Ibtissem Lahmar, 22, who would represent the country in Miss World.

*MISS PERU WORLD.- The final, organized by Jéssica Newton (Miss Peru 1987), was held on Sunday April 14 at the Plaza de Armas in Lima with 24 finalists competing and which was hosted by Antonio Vodanovic. The winner was the representative of Iquitos, Mónica Chacón, 20 years old and who also took the title of Miss Photogenic. For her part, Ericka Ramírez (Manú) was elected as Miss Peru Latina. Both winners received Daewoo 0 km cars as prizes. Regina Vurbal (Huancayo), Fairus Barraza (San Martín), Renata Troiano (Madre de Dios) and Rosa María Guadalupe (Ica) were finalists. The jury included Jacqueline Aguilera (Miss World ’95), Osmel Sousa (President of the Miss Venezuela Organization) and Acirema Alayeto (Director of Miss Latin America), among others.

* MISS CZECH REPUBLIC.- It took place on Saturday April 20 at the DK Invest in Pilsen. The winner was Petra Minárová (to Miss World ’96 and Miss Universe ’97) and the finalists were Iva Kubelková (to Miss Europe) and Zdenka Zadrazilova (to Miss International).

* MISS LITHUANIA.- It was held on Friday, May 3 at the Jet Set club at the Lietuva hotel in Vilnius. The winner was Daiva Anuzyte from the capital city, and the finalists were Sonata Pulkauskaite, also “Miss Audience” and Alina Dorofejeva. Meanwhile, Gerda Blauzdyt and was “Miss Elegance” and “Miss Smile”, Ruta Bartasiute was “Miss Photogenic” and Renatai Kozlovskai was “Miss Artistic”. 16 candidates participated.

* MISS EESTI.- It took place on Friday May 10 at the “Dekoltee” Nightclub in Tallinn (Estonia). The winner was Maie Jogar and her finalists, Sigrid Karotam and Mari-Liis Kapustin. For some unknown reason, the winner was not sent to Miss World. In her place, finalist Mari-Liis Kapustin attended.

* MISS BELGIUM.- Laurence Borremans won the crown on Friday May 10 in Brussels, obtaining the right to represent her country in Miss World ’96 and Miss Universe ’97. The finalists were Yardena Depuis and Veronique Maes.

* MISS & MISTER LATVIA.- The final took place on Saturday, May 11, with the participation of 12 candidates (6 women and 6 men). The winner of Miss Latvia 1996 heading to Miss World was Anta Dukure and her finalist, Sigita Kureļonoka, while the winner of Mister Latvia was Gatis Didrihsons.

* MISS PORTUGAL.- Thursday May 23 was the date on which the Portuguese beauty queen was chosen at the Estoril Casino and produced by Gabinete Jose Carlos. The winner, heading to Miss Universe, was Lara Antunes from Lisbon, being finalists Claudia Teixeira from the city of Torres Novas (for Miss World) and Fernanda Alves, representative of the Portuguese colony in South Africa (for Miss International, a title that then she won). For unknown reasons, Claudia Teixeira did not travel to Miss World, being replaced by another of the finalists, Ana Mafalda Schaefer de Almeida Santos.

* FEGURÐARDROTTNING ÍSLANDS.- The “Beauty Queen of Iceland” pageant was held on Friday, May 24 at the Islandi hotel in Reykjavik. The crown went to Sólveig Lilja Guðmundsdóttir from the city of Njarðvík, who went to Miss Universe ’97. The finalists were Auður Geirsdóttir (who was supposed to go to Miss World ’96 but for financial reasons they sent her only to Miss International ’96) and Harpa Rós Gísladóttir.

* MISS KOREA.- The winner was Eun-hee Lee (to Miss Universe ’97) and the finalists turned out to be Soo-jin Seol (to Miss World ’96), Ryang-hee Kim (to Miss International ’97), Jung- yoon Choi, Ji-Hee Lee (to the Miss Asia Pacific ’96), Choi Sook-young, Jah-young and Lee Min-joong Kwon. The event was on Saturday May 25 at the Sejong Center Auditorium.

* FROKEN NORGE.- The finals of the “Frøken Norge” contest , which chose the Norwegian representative for Miss World, was held on Saturday, June 1st, with Eva Sjøholt , Miss Troms, winning . The results were announced, in reverse order, by Eric Morley, President of the Miss World Organization, who attended as a special guest, as he had traveled to Norway looking for the host country for their world beauty event.

Eric Morley

* MISS HONG KONG.- Held at the Hung Hom Stadium on Sunday, June 2. The evening saw Lee San-San crown for Miss Universe and Miss Chinese International ’97. Chillie Poon (Miss World ’96) and Fiona Yuen (Miss International ’96) classified as finalists.

* MISS TAHITI.- Hinerava Hiro was elected “Miss Tahiti 1996” at the Aora’i Tini Hau Hall in Pirae by a jury presided over by Mareva Georges (Miss Tahiti 1990 and Miss France 1991) on Friday June 21st.

* MISS WORLD COLOMBIA.- Chosen among 30 entrants from all over the country, Carolina Arango Corrales, 18, and representative of Risaralda, was crowned on Monday night, July 1t, at the William Shakespeare Cultural Center in Bogotá, as “Miss World Colombia 1996”. Born in Pereira, this young brunette was always among the group of favorites. As the Vice-Queen was the candidate of Valle, Mitzu Plata Isaacs and the remaining finalists were the representatives of Sucre (María Claudia Pérez), Santander (Silvia Fernández Navas) and Cesar (Clemencia Franco Torres). The event was attended by the Venezuelan Jacqueline Aguilera (Miss World ’95) as the guest of honor.

* MISS ARUBA.- Karen-Ann Peterson won the contest held in Hotel Americana Aruba on Tuesday 9th of July, heading for Miss Universe ’97. As Miss World Aruba was chosen Afranina Henriquez. Sergio Di Francesco, official photographer of Miss Venezuela, was among the judges. There was a slight controversy over the dress worn by the outgoing queen, Taryn Mansell, who was a first runner-up in Miss Universe ’96. The dress showed her navel, which for some observers was scandalous… It was also said that one of the participants had done esoteric work, accompanied by baths and incense and wore special bracelets to achieve a good position in the contest, and at the same time it seems, she succeeded…

* MISS GIBRALTAR.- The event took place on Thursday, July 11, with Samantha Lane winning, heading to Miss World. The finalists were Lianna Vinnet and Tallitha Field.

* MISS COMMONWEALTH BAHAMAS.- It was held on Sunday July 14 at the Marriott Theater of the Marriott Crystal Palace Resort, Cable Beach, Nassau. The winner was Nicole Symonette, while the first runner-up was Chakita Devonia Bonaby and the second runner-up, Vonya Lee Williams.

* SUOMEN NEITO.- The blonde Hanna Hirvonen won the title of “Suomen Neito 1996” on Saturday, August 17, which gave her the pass to Miss World representing her country, Finland. The finalists of the event, in which 10 finalists competed, were Virpi Hytönen and Linda Jaakkola.

* MISS IRELAND.- The Burlington Hotel in Dublin was the venue for the event on Monday, August 19. The crown was won by 19-year-old Niamh Marie Redmond of Drimnagh, who won the right to represent the country at Miss World ’96 and Miss Universe ’97. The finalists were Michelle Murphy and Fiona Mullally.

* MISS SOUTH AFRICA.- The finals were held on Saturday, August 24 at the Sun City SuperBowl with 9 finalists. The winner was Peggy-Sue Khumalo (Gauteng) also elected Miss Photogenic. Second was Babalwa Mneno (Eastern Cape) and third Adele van Niekerk (Western Cape) . Rehebohilie Ralepeli (Free State) and Heather van Heerden (North Cape) completed the Top 5.

* MISS VENEZUELA.- It was held on Friday, September 6 at the Poliedro de Caracas with 28 candidates, in an event in which Miss Universe ’96 and Miss World ’95 were present to deliver the crowns to their successors. This edition was presented again by Gilberto Correa and Bárbara Palacios and where Joaquín Riviera was dressed as a Pirate for the central production. The Miss Venezuela crown went to Miss Carabobo, Marena Bencomo (to Miss Universe ’97), that of Miss World Venezuela went to Miss Nueva Esparta, Anna Cepinska (to Miss World ’96); Miss Venezuela International went to Consuelo Adler, Miss Miranda (to Miss International ’97 and also Miss Photogenic) and Nuestra Belleza Venezuela to Miss Lara, Adelaida Pifano. The finalists, in their order, were Lorena Franceschi (Zulia), Tatiana Irízar (Táchira), Gabriela Vergara (Barinas) and Milena Romero (Anzoátegui).

* MISS MACAU.- The 21-year-old student Guiomar Madeira Da Silva Pedruco was elected on Saturday, September 7 at the Macau Forum Auditorium, succeeding her sister Geraldina Pedruco, winner of the event in 1995. Lei Fei (22) , was the first  Maid of Honor and also Miss Photogenic, while Chiu Nga Ling, (20), was the 2nd. Maid of Honor. With the 1996 title, the Pedruco family achieved the fourth victory in the contest organized by the Tourism Services, after their sisters Guilhermina, Isabela and Geraldina Pedruco won this same crown in 1989, 1993 and 1995.

* MISS PANAMA.- “Miss Panama, beauty of creation” was the theme chosen for the election of the new sovereign of Panamanian beauty in the event that was held on Saturday, September 7 at the Anayansi Theater of the Atlapa Convention Center and presented by former Miss Panama World ’90 Madelaine Leignadier, Iván Donoso and Ana Lucía Herrera. The winners were Lia Victoria Borrero, 20, from Las Tablas (to Miss Universe ’97), Norma Elida Pérez (21), from Panama Centro (to Miss World ’96) and Amelie González Assereto (20), from Las Tablas (to Nuestra Belleza Intl. ’96). The finalists were Hazul Cortés (21), from Colón and Mildred Vásquez (20), from Panama City. 15 candidates participated.

* MISS SWITZERLAND.- Mélanie Winiger, 17, of Losone , was crowned on Saturday September 7, at the Grand Casino in Geneva, as the new “Miss Switzerland 1996” among 16 competitors. Melanie thus obtained the responsibility of representing her country in Miss World ’96 and Miss Universe ’97. The finalists were Yara Ledergerger, 22, and Lena Hostetler, 24 .

* NUESTRA BELLEZA WORLD MEXICO.- This year, Lupita Jones held the “Nuestra Belleza World Mexico” contest for the first time with the same candidates who would compete, the following week, in the “Nuestra Belleza México” and for the right to represent Mexico in Miss Universe. This event, on the way to Miss World and which was hosted by Marco Antonio Regil, was held on Saturday, September 14 at the Xcaret Park in Cancun, Quintana Roo, with the 32 candidates. The jury decided on the representative of Jalisco, Yessica Salazar González, while the finalists were Ileana Fomperosa Chavarín (Veracruz and substitute for Nuestra Belleza World México), Ivette Benavides Rojas (Federal District), Banelly Carrasco Loya (Chihuahua) and Hortensia Iveth García Frías (Querétaro). As a curious note, the brand new Nuestra Belleza World México competed the following week in the Nuestra Belleza México final, but only got one place among the semifinalists.

* MISS MALAYSIA WORLD.- Qu-An How Cheok Kuan, from Kepong Baru, was crowned Miss Malaysia World after beating 19 other candidates on Sunday, September 15th in Kuala Lumpur.

* MISS THAILAND WORLD.- The Bangkok Convention Hall, at the Central Plaza hotel , was the venue for this event held on Saturday, September 21. The winner was Cynthia Carmen Burbridge, 17, from Pattaya, of American father and half British/half Thai mother, so Cynthia preferred to use the Thai name “Sirinya Winsiri” not to seem so Western. The finalists were Kulastree Kojanawan, Jiraporn Jit-on, Churairat Phohom, and Rondee Pengpoonphok.

* MISS POLAND.- It was held on Saturday September 21 at the Congress Hall of the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, with the participation of 20 candidates. This is how 20-year-old Agnieszka Zielinska from the city of Poznan was crowned Poland’s new beauty queen. Agnieszka also took home the titles of “Miss Grace”, “Miss Photogenic” and “Miss Audience”. The finalists were Julia Kowalska, Anna Fizek and Anna Kania.

* MISS SLOVENIA.- It had place on Saturday 28 September under the tent of the big show “Look and Hit at Tam” in Maribor. The title went to the medical student from the city of Kicar, Alenka Vindis (18), who attended Miss World. The finalists were Martina Korazija (17) and Stancka Sukalo (18).

* MISS CURAÇAO.- Verna Vasquez, 23, won the crown on Saturday, September 28, heading for Miss Universe ’97. The finalists were Yandra Faulborn (to Miss World ’96) and Zuwena Fraai.

* MISS UNITED KINGDOM.- The finals were held on Sunday, October 6 with 20 candidates at the Hilton Park Lane hotel in London. It was won by Rachael Warner (Miss Sheffield), who had been second runner-up the previous year. As finalists were Jessica Molloy (Miss Birmingham) and Emma Scott (Miss Swindon). In the same event, Phil Cooke was chosen as Mister United Kingdom (his daughter Olivia Cooke was a semi-finalist in Miss England 2019).

* MISS BRAZIL WORLD.- Twenty-six candidates (Amapá did not appear) disputed the title on Friday, October 11 at the Machadinho Gymnasium in the city of Natal. The crown went to the temples of Miss Espiritu Santo, Anuska Prado, although she lived in Governador Valadares, Minas Gerais. As finalists were Pherla Aline Fischer (Mina Gerais), Karina Luiza Bomm (Paraná), Louisianne Soraya Drummond Alves (Rio Grande Do Norte) and Maria Gabriela Dias Gomes (Rio de Janeiro).

* MISS BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA.- The Sarajevo Cultural Center was the site of the first Miss Bosnia contest after four years of war. The finals were held on Sunday, October 13 with 20 contestants from across the Federation. The winner turned out to be 18-year-old Belma Zvrko, while Narcisa Gakovic and Emira Mesanovic, also 18, took the awards as finalists.

* MISS WORLD CHILE.- The blonde Luz Francisca Valenzuela Hölzel won the Miss World Chile contest on Thursday, October 17, in a studio on Channel 13 in Chile. Second was Karen Mayer and third was María Carolina Mardones. 10 candidates participated and the election was made with telephone votes from the public.

* BEAUTY OF RUSSIA (KRASA ROSSII).- It was held on Sunday, October 20 at the Moscow Youth Palace with 26 participants. At the event, 17-year-old Victoria Tsapitsyna from Moscow was crowned on her way to Miss World. The finalists were Olga Ignatiy (17) from Tver and Natalya Volikova (22) from Saratov.

* MISS NEDERLAND.- Miss Noord-Holland, Petra Hoost, of a Surinamese father and Dutch mother, won the title of “Miss Nederland 1996” among 12 girls on Friday, October 25 in an RTL4 television studio, winning the right to represent her country in Miss World ’96. Finalists were Jenina Smink (Gelderland), Evelien Nuijlen (Zeeland), Tooske Breugem (Overijssel) and Jessica Veenhuis (Drenhe).


                Reigning Miss Philippines Daisy Reyes was stripped of her title and the right to compete for the Miss World title after she advertised an unauthorized product. Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc.,  dismissed the beauty queen on Saturday June 8 after she ignored a written warning in May where they told her not to be the image of a product whose brand was a direct competition to one of its sponsors. However, the Filipino beauty was dethroned for just one day, as the crown was returned to her by explaining to BPCI why she had come to the US to fulfill a commitment that Daisy had signed before joining the contest. And by convincing them, Daisy returned just in time to fulfill some scheduled BPCI activities.


                At first, the Morleys’ idea was to celebrate Miss World at the Atlantis hotel in the Bahamas, owned by Sun International, but after Sol Kerzner left that company, no agreement was reached with the hotel company. After Emirates airline refused to continue sponsoring the pageant and after unsuccessful flirtations with Norway in the middle of the year looking to host the Miss World ’96 pageant, the Morley family set their sights elsewhere on the planet. After learning of the Indian Actor Amitabh Bachchan, who had been a judge at Miss World the previous year and had created in 1995 his own company called ABCL (Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited) to corporatise the huge Indian film industry, the Morley contacted him and they suggested him to hold the contest in India in their forty-sixth edition, because his company, besides distributing films, also performed events and celebrities and was responsible for the marketing of them.

               The Morley’s enclosure took place in early August 1996 and Bachchan was a little nervous about accepting the invitation because he only had three months to organize the pageant. At the beginning, Bachchan acted with great caution and in one meeting with his team of ABCL, he proposed the idea and asked whether they considered they could cope in such a short time. And when his team answered yes, Bachchan asked to consider what the reaction to this contest would be in India. “We conducted a survey before saying yes to consider the reaction of the general public. That survey said that people approved of the contest”, Bachchan said. In addition, after the triumph of Aishwarya Rai and Sushmita Sen and the popular support they received when they returned gloriously to India, their partners saw no major problem with the contest being held in the country, so Bachchan contacted the Morley in mid-August to accept the request for host country. “If we had said no to Miss World, it would have been interpreted that India did not have the capacity to do so”, added Bachchan.

               Bachchan’s team investigated several cities in India but ultimately Bangalore won because it represented a healthy mix of East and West. It was an emerging megalopolis, it had a solid infrastructure and it had the new technological hub of India, Silicon Valley, while Mumbai and Delhi were already known all over the world. But Bangalore just received this recognition and they thought it would be a good idea to place the event in that city. Finally, the contract of seven million dollars for the staging, marketing, acquisition of TV rights and obtaining sponsorships for the event, was signed on Tuesday, August 27, and was announced with great fanfare the celebration of Miss World for the first time in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, known as the ‘garden city’ of the Karnataka state, on Saturday 23 November. “This is an opportunity to expose our culture to the world”, said Amitabh Bachchan, president and managing director of the Indian media conglomerate “Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited”. Miss World, which began in 1951, had so far raised more than $ 150 million for charities for the most underprivileged children on the planet.

                In a press conference held the same day along with the Chief Minister of Karnataka, J.H. Patel, Amitabh Bachchan, who had been instrumental in bringing the show to India, directed his best compliments to the city of Bangalore saying that otherwise he would not have found an ideal location to host the contest. “The glamorous pageant will show Bangalore to the world,” said the film star, turned aspiring entertainment mogul in the country, who stated that he had been a Miss World judge the previous year in South Africa and did not believe that Bangalore would fail to provide less than Sun City did. The tour of Miss World in India, the country that had an industry of fashion rapidly growing, would start on November 3, when nearly 100 contestants arrive to New Delhi. Then, the contestants would be divided into five groups for trips to various parts of the country to capture the Indian culture. It would then meet again in Bangalore, on November 11, until the finals of the 23rd, which would be broadcast on television to approximately 2.5 billion people in 115 countries.

                After the signing of the contract, which contemplated the realization of the Miss World contest in India for three consecutive years until 1998, the Morleys, already more relieved, focused their attention on the first edition of Mister World, which was scheduled to be held on Friday, September 20th in Istanbul, Turkey , with 50 handsome guys from around the world, an event that was finally won by Tom Nuyens from Belgium.


                Upon hearing from the press about Miss World being held in India, a Karnataka women’s organization opposed holding the event in Bangalore. The contest was being managed by the company of Amitabh Bachchan with the help of the state government. The organization “Mahila Jagran” threatened to send “suicide squads” to the site of the contest to protest against the holding of the contest in the state of Karnataka. The group’s president, Ms. K.N. Shashikala, questioned the government’s motives in handing over its official facilities to movie star Amitabh Bachchan to make the announcement of the contest stating that it would “bring a bad reputation to the state.”

                This time it seemed the Morleys’ beloved creation had a rough ride. With the ink barely dry on the celebrated contract of 45 million rupiah to produce it, Miss World was facing a wave of protests by Indians that were fed to have everything Western. They saw the spectacle as a threat to the dignity of Indian women and to national values, heritage and traditions. Farmers, feminists, housewives, students and leftist politicians, all together in a strange alliance, expressed their opposition. And they were doing it out loud.

                The Bangalore feminist group “Mahila Jagran” had threatened to commit suicide at the event by setting themselves on fire, if plans to hold the contest in Bangalore went ahead. Its founder K.N. Shashikala said: “We are not willing to lose our inheritance for a little foreign currency and we are willing to sacrifice our lives for our country. I have the courage to do so and others feel the same. The police will not be able to search everyone who enters to the event and a bottle of kerosene is easy to hide”. “The event not only insults the dignity of Indian women to objectify them”, she argued. “It will lead to an increase in crimes against them”. For the minority of Indians wealthy middle-class, the beauty competition business was nothing new. India had competed in Miss World long before and had winners in 1966 and 1994.

                Sathya Saran, the editor of Femina Magazine, defended the competition: “I think we are doing a great job of raising morale. These girls are going to enter the world of television, film and advertising and we are preparing them for it. In any case, we, Indians, are proud of what we are doing”. She insisted on that competition was not just the outer beauty. “We are looking for personality, girls who have a mission in life and want to get somewhere as substantial people”. It was not the first time that Bachchan had upset left-wing feminists. His company had projected “Bandit Queen”, which caused such a scandal with the scenes of rape and nudity, that it was censored after a screening and had not been seen complete in India since then. One of those fanatics was Shashikala. “I loved Bachchan’s films and respected him until his company released ‘Bandit Queen’, ” she said. “Now he is embarrassing India with this beauty event. It will hurt Indian feelings and culture”.

                Since her group announced her self-immolation plan, students and housewives had contacted her to pledge their support. Members of the main right-wing party “Bharatiya Janata” were also opposed to the contest, allegedly “obscene” and Muslim women’s organizations were adding their voice to the protest. M.H. Nanjundaswamy, president of the Karnataka State Farmers’ Association, said that at least 500,000 of its members would hold a rally in Bangalore three weeks before the Miss World pageant. “We are joining with feminists in this fight,” he said. “This competition is a very dirty business. It is a smart way to impose cultural imperialism on India. It is not a coincidence that the winners are chosen from Third World countries; it is to make it more attractive to investors”.

                Miss World was arriving to India at a time when, after five years of economic liberation, the country was trying to find a difficult balance between encouraging foreign investment and preserve their own identity. The feelings were intensifying; Kentucky Fried Chicken, also attacked by farmers, now had a police guard 24 hours a day outside their branch in Bangalore. Satellite TV, on which the government regulations were irregular, was one a great offender in the eyes of the Protectionists. Many Indians believed that MTV and its shows were responsible for a lowering of moral standards. Meanwhile, the launch of the first channel for adults in India, promising a dramatized version of the “Kama Sutra” had been delayed due to protests and legal actions. Given this climate, it was not surprising that feminism was emerging across the country.


                An Indian court on Friday, September 6, dismissed a petition seeking a ban on this year’s plans to host Miss World in the southern city of Bangalore. The contest, which was starting on November 3, had caused controversy when a member of the Legislative Assembly in the state of Karnataka requested a ban, saying the contest devaluated women in a culture that rewarded to male children. Another representative, the independent Vatal Nagrag, said that if scantily clad women were allowed to parade in Bangalore, he would post hundreds of nude photos of Amitabh Bachchan, the Indian screen hero whose company bought the rights to the contest. The protest was backed by dozens of groups. Most had taken a measured approach, organizing petitions, street protests and legal challenges. Many in Bangalore, not to mention the state government expected that once the final event was going to be revealed in a series of fabulous events planned by the ACE film director, Priyadarshan, the decrease anger. Even they could give way to ecstasy if Miss India, Rani Jeyaraj from Bangalore, ended among the three finalists. But feminists had threatened to blow themselves up at the pageant, declaring that it was a Western attack on Indian culture. Meanwhile, producers of the contest mocked. “The show will go on”, Jaya Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan’s wife, told reporters. The Bangalore authorities had promised full support, adequate security, and allowed the use of the conference room at Vidhana Soudha to announce the venue of the contest: Chinnaswamy Stadium. The main event, at an estimated cost of 7 million US dollars, would take place at the cricket stadium of 50,000 seats. The events associated with the three-week long contest would be held in New Delhi, Madras, Goa, Jaipur and Agra.

               For left-wing intellectual feminists like Kamal Bhasin, this active and spontaneous feminism was refreshing and exhilarating. “Although we want to keep our distance from the hysterical right wing, it is wonderful to see how different organizations are joining”, she said. “We may not have the same solutions, but we are fighting the same fight. We are all against pornography and we are very concerned about the multinational attack. Women across India should prepare against Miss World. It is something against it that we fought in the universities in the 70’s and we won. Now the fight has started again”. While traditionalists claimed that the pageant was against Indian culture, beauty pageants had been wildly popular there since Indians Sushmita Sen and Aishwariya Rai were crowned Miss Universe and Miss World in 1994.

                The threat to the organization of the famous Miss World contest in Bangalore took a new turn, when the aforementioned feminist organization “Mahila Jagran” (Awakening Women) approached the judiciary on Monday, September 9, to demand that the celebration of the contest in that city be vetoed, this being the second petition presented in the Karnataka High Court. “Mahila Jagran” said the contest would encourage prostitution, pornography and violence against women. “Doubtful foreign men and women, many of them carriers of the AIDS virus, can wreak havoc on the lives of Indian men and women and pose a serious health hazard”, she said. In response to the allegation, the judge R.V. Raveendran issued an order from the Karnataka state government to take note of the petition against the event. Finally, the Indian court again dismissed the petition. “It was unfounded and the obscenity issue could only be assessed during the contest and not before,” Judge R.V. Raveendran said.


                Vatal Nagaraj, a pro-Kannada legislator (Dravidian language spoken in south west India) in the state assembly of Karnataka, was arrested on Tuesday September 10 along with several others by police while protesting against the celebration of the Miss World beauty pageant in Bangalore on November 23rd. Protesters shouted slogans and waved banners against the prime minister of the state, J.H. Patel and film personality Amitabh Bachchan and his company ABCL, under whose banner is organized the event. These protests were made after the reversal of a complaint of “Mahila Jagran” on a public interest litigation by the High Court of Karnataka the day before.

                Thursday, September 12, feminists groups in India launched a campaign of civil disobedience and threatened to kill themselves publicly to stop the Miss World contest which was to be held in Bangalore. The leader of “Mahila Jagran” (Women’s Awakening) said that one of the 16 women would set themselves on fire every day in the countdown to the televised finals in Bangalore on November 23. They said that the beauty pageants were an affront to women and Indian tradition. They were still further, claiming that the contests spread AIDS.


                The following week, the prime minister of Karnataka, J.H. Patel, came out to defend Amitabh Bachchan and the Miss World contest that was going to be organized in the state capital, Bangalore, in the month of November. Patel said that the event would boost tourism in the state and that the state government, to that end, would get involved in the project to provide the necessary infrastructure. The state had also asked the federal government to provide necessary support to tourists coming from around the world, he said, adding that requests were sent to Hyderabad and Madras in neighboring Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states respectively to the availability of accommodation to visitors. At the same time, J.H. Patel called a special meeting of state administration officials to prepare the city for the show. “If a woman wants to show off, what’s wrong with seeing her?” said J.H. Patel. For his part, Amitabh Bachchan said he would also be producing a feature film with the competition as a backdrop. In what was termed an attempt to appease the sentiments of the locals, the entire contract for the making of the Hindi film was given to leading Kannada cinema Upendra. Bachchan declared that the entire event from November 3 to 23 was going to be filmed and then, a story would be woven around the contest in the new film, whose main role would be played by actor Sunil Shetty and which would be released at the end of 1997.


               Animal lovers taking pets to a fun Sunday charity run on September 22 told their famous guest, Miss South Africa, to stay away after she revealed her plans to euthanize a goat to her roast ancestors. Peggy-Sue Khumalo, 21 , who had planned the sacrifice to thank the spirits for her Miss South Africa title, told a weekly magazine that if she won the November Miss World pageant in India, she would sacrifice a cow and 10 oxen. “Due to her participation in the ritual slaughter, which causes suffering to animals, we have asked her to withdraw,” said a spokesman for the  “League Against Animal Cruelty”.


               M.D. Nanjundaswamy, Director of “Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangh”, an association of militant farmers in the southern state of Karnataka, which had led a violent campaign against the opening of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut establishments in the city, had now threatened set fire to the stadium Chinnaswamy in Bangalore, which was the headquarters of the Miss World contest. Addressing a rally by his activists outside the stadium on Friday, October 4, the leader said that they would not allow the contest to take place in Bangalore under any circumstances and that they would set the stadium on fire if Amitabh Bachchan did not cancel the event. “We set it on fire. There is no way we will allow the contest to take place here”, Nanjundaswamy said. Furthermore, he said that the contest would pave the way for cultural imperialism. The rally was organized by the newly formed Federation of Opponents to the Miss World Pageant. In another protest against the “foreign invasion” on October 2, some 40 members of Akhila Karnataka Yuva Parishad were arrested when they tried to break into the multinational fast food establishment Pizza Hut.


                 The public had been assured that no government machinery would be used for the contest. However, the state government, which had all along neglected attention to the civic comforts of the city, was suddenly awakened by the contest. The state government gave a sum of 5 million rupees to the Bangalore city corporation, to fix the city. The roads should appear and star newly constructed, was to provide lights in the streets and should provide uninterrupted water and energy. The prestigious parks, Cubborn Park and Lalbagh, would be given a resplendent appearance and walkways would be built at the main entrances to Bangalore. The state government had applied for a new 10 million rupee grant from the central government to beautify the tourist sites: Hampi, Belur and Halebid, in addition to renovating the hotels owned by the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation and purchasing air-conditioned limousines, conditioned to transport tourists. As Bangalore would also host the National Games and the “International Airshow-Aero India” in December, improving the city would be beneficial and for which the government of Karnataka state required the central government a party for about 2.8 million dollars for all these improvements in the city. In the end, the government gave a grant of 4 million rupees to cover the potholes and fix the city. The Tourism Department had submitted a request for Rs 20 million to renovate its hotels and hire luxury transportation. According to Bangalore’s Development Minister Anand Nag, the city needed 500 million rupees. “This is to prepare Bangalore for the Bangloreans, not for the Miss World pageant,” Nag said sarcastically.


                Two former judges of the country, E.S. Venkataramaiah and M.N. Venkatachaliah, who were to assume the position on the National Commission for Human Rights, had joined the protest against holding the Miss World contest in Bangalore. These distinguished people were also joined by the winner of the Magsaysay Award K.V. Subanna, and other dignitaries at a convention organized by “All India Mahila Samskruthika Sanghatana” to deplore the “public display of the woman’s body”. The convention came a day after the Karnataka government announced the release of 50 million rupees for the beautification of the city on the eve of the contest and the request to the federal government to release an additional 100 million rupees for this purpose.


                Meanwhile, in Mumbai (Bombay), at a brilliant performance on Wednesday, October 9, the official emblem of Miss World 1996 was unveiled: a painting of an Apsara. The event was attended by Amitabh Bachchan and the renowned Hindu philanthropist Parmeshwar Godrej, wife of the President of the Godrej Group, the main sponsor of the event. Amitabh Bachchan called India “a democratic country with freedom of expression for all people” and denied having been in talks with the Prime Minister of India about the contest. For her part, Ms Godrej described the event as “an excellent platform to focus global attention on India”. Mr. Bachchan felt that the Apsara really conveyed the Indian spirit.

                The artistic emblem of the Miss World pageant consisted of the bust of an ‘Apsara’ from a 17th century Cave in Ajanta, the epitome of female beauty. The background was made of traditional craft paper and straw mats. The dark Indian beauty was adorned with a jeweled crown . The crown was offset by the variegated hues of the feathers of the peacock, the national bird of India. It was also adorned with jewels, which are characteristic of every Indian woman. The butterfly on the crest of her crown, was a symbol of the free spirit of every Indian, who has been responsible for making India the largest democracy in the world.


               Apart from the signing of Amitabh Bachchan, who also had support from local government, the Godrej group was the official sponsor of the event. Godrej emporium created by Ardeshir Godrej in the late 1800s, spend around 5 crore in this event and hoped to promote its leading brands such as Cinthol partnering with this famous beauty contest to be held in India for the first time. The Welcomgroup hotel chain, which had 15 hotels, seven of which shared with the Sheraton brand, in addition to the Mastercard, Jet Airways and Air India were other major sponsors. Citibank would be in charge of ticket sales, Sahara India in domestic air transport, Europcar in ground transport, Yatrik Network Pvt Ltd would be the official Travel Agency, E2 the official Magazine, Liberty Group, a renowned leather footwear firm, would be the official guide, VSNL (Videsti Sanchar Nigam Limited) would be in charge of the official videos, International Travel House on Miss World 1996 related tour packages and Microland, the information technology companion. For the first time in history, the contest would have a website on the internet, which was gradually beginning to emerge as a great means of communication.


                Mr. Manohar Arcot, representative of the ABCL firm, reported on Friday, October 11, that the organizers of Miss World 1996 had decided to move the site of the swimsuits section of the contest, the most controversial part of the competition, from India to the Seychelles, an independent archipelago of 118 islands in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa and some 3,500 km southwest of Bangalore, following protests by radical feminists and conservative Indians. In September, activists threatened to set themselves on fire at the site of the contest, the city of Bangalore, saying that the beauty event and the exhibition of female bodies was a Western imperialist invasion of Indian culture. ABCL had initially planned to paraded the contestants in swimsuits against the background of the Taj Mahal, along with a medieval fort in the historical city of Jaipur and a beach in the south of India, according to the newspaper “The Pioneer”. However, the threat of self-immolation forced ABCL officials to move filming of the pageant’s swimsuits from India to Seychelles, company spokesman Manohar Arcot said. “Although I am a bit surprised by the reaction of certain groups of people, I think it is due to a lack of information”, Arcot said. “There is nothing vulgar or obscene about the event”. The Seychelles government, which was quick to take the initiative, offered to host the entire Miss World contest there because, as mentioned above, the holding of the event in Bangalore had sparked many protests against it. After these protests, ABCL decided to move the swimsuit event to the Seychelles. The Seychelles government would airlift the contestants and fly them back to Bangalore on their own. In addition, the government of those islands was interested in having the contest held there the following year.

                But top activists wanted the entire 21-day contest to move outside of India. It was not known if the change would appease the hundreds of protesters, who marched in Bangalore on Saturday, October 12, to demand the cancellation of the event. “We will not allow the show to take place where people, mostly men, judge a woman on her legs, breasts, waist and lips”, said state legislator Pramila Nesargi. Nesargi, an advocate for poor and abused women in Karnataka state, whose capital is Bangalore, had said protesters would carry out suicide attacks to sabotage the pageant. Police and organizers said local Indian media were exaggerating the threat and the city’s 15,000-strong police force could handle any confrontation. “But you don’t want a dislike and you don’t want to see men with guns in a beauty show”, said S.C. Burman, the city police commissioner. The protesters burned an effigy of Bachchan in protest. He, for his part, said that the real reasons why the filming in swimsuits had moved to Seychelles was because the government of the islands had made an offer that he could not refuse. “We are not doing anything illegal here and therefore we will move on”, he said somewhat annoyed. “The Miss World pageant will be great for India. It will provide a showcase to project the country and its culture. This is an opportunity to expose our culture to the world,” Bachchan finished.


                Details of the activities leading up to Miss World 1996 were also reported at the ABCL press conference on Friday, October 11. The contestants would arrive in Delhi on November 3 and 4. They would have dinner with the Prime Minister on the 5th and then they would go to Seychelles for the swimsuit filming, returning to Bangalore on November 11th. All other contest activities would be held in Bangalore. Mr. Manohar, a spokesperson for ABCL, told the press that beauty comprised only 40% of the criteria for evaluating participants. They would do intelligence tests, personality assessment tests, and a series of scientifically designed events.

               Holding the contest in Bangalore did not put undue pressure on the civic amenities of the city. The generators were to provide additional electricity and the mineral water would cover their water needs. WelcomGroup, representatives of Windsor Manor Sheraton & Towers hotel, hospitality partner of the contest, organized a meeting with all the former Miss India from Bangalore. For its part, Upton International of South Africa would manage the television rights that would be sold in more than 100 countries and Doordarshan would broadcast the contest in India. Six weeks before the contest, Doordarshan would broadcast six episodes regarding the contest. Tania Godrej, director of Godrej, speaking on behalf of the group that was sponsoring the event, said that thanks to Miss World, Godrej’s image would truly go global. On the other hand, on Sunday, October 13, the first McDonald’s restaurant was opened in the city of New Delhi, without meat on the menu.


                On Tuesday, October 15, and after the uproar over the swimsuit competition, vehemently opposed by women’s rights advocates, the Miss World organizers decided to move the following year’s pageant outside of India. Threats from Indians to organize protests, including suicide attacks against the pageant, had already prompted the pageant to move the swimsuit portion of this year’s pageant to the Seychelles that offered the pageant a guarantee of 5.3 million dollars to move there entirely in 1997, so the organizers decided to interrupt what was to be a three-year celebration in Bangalore.


               On Thursday, October 17, there were rumors that the Miss World pageant, to be held in the city of Bangalore, could move to the western state of Goa due to growing local opposition to the event . They were considering an offer from the Goa government to host the contest, but had not yet made a decision, said a spokesman for the public relations agency representing the organizers. But, the next day, ABCL denied the rumors and said the contest would not move from Bangalore, despite protests from feminists and political activists.


               The prestigious Miss World show was taking shape on schedule. ABCL hired the director Priyadarshan, for which he was in charge of the show and who had asked Vineeth and Manju Warrier to do a classical dance, as in the last show of the Filmfare Award in Chennai, dancing Vineeth was sensational and attracted much applause. The dance would be choreographed by G.Kala and the international audience would surely be drawn to all that glitz and glamor. The Miss World fever had already become popular in Bangalore and students led by ABCL had conducted polls on October 19 in which the majority of those consulted were in favor of holding the beauty pageant. An energetic Hindu leader had even come out in favor of the contest, saying it would be a good opportunity for Indians to see the most beautiful women in the world. But while welcome bows and flags were put up, protest marches were also held, side by side. The self-styled “Federation of opponents to the Miss World contest” organized a protest rally in the city on Thursday, October 24.


                A dinner for the Miss World contestants to be hosted by the Prime Minister of India, H.D. Deve Gowda unleashed a protest march in the Indian capital, said a spokesman for the youth wing of the country’s main Indian political party, who disagreed with the event being held in India. On the other hand, during the demonstration on Thursday October 24, feminists said: “We will give away our lives, we will take lives, but we will not allow the event”, which meant a risk for the Miss World contest of receiving a bloody face in India. On that day, the state unit of the Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party was encouraged when its national leader, Ms. Uma Bharati, pledged to stop the Miss World organization in Bangalore. She participated in a rally outside the Karnataka State Cricket Association stadium, the venue of the event, to threaten to obstruct the contest at any cost and, if necessary, place a siege on the stadium. State party deputy Ananthakumar said more than 100,000 people from across the state would be mobilized. Also taking part in the meeting was the leader of “Rajya Raitha Sangh”, M.D. Nanjudaswamy, the leader of “Mahila Jagran”, K.N. Shashikala, and Ms. Ajmatullah Rehman from the Karnataka Minority Welfare Federation. “We will march and throw the contestants into the Arabian Sea from where they can swim to the Seychelles to participate in the event,” said the Founder of the Karnataka State Farmers Association, N.D. Nanjundaswamy.

                Fifteen women threatened with self-immolation to protest the holding of the contest on November 23, said K.N. Shashikala, president of “Mahila Jagran” (Feminine Awakening). The 12 students and the three housewives, “will be burned in protest to save the Indian culture”, said Shashikala and commented that one of its members will commit suicide every day, in the last two weeks before the contest in Bangalore. The Miss World contestants were scheduled to tour the cities of New Delhi, Jaipur, Agra and Madras prior to the pageant but this tour was canceled due to protests. Other organizations were also protesting, saying that the pageant, especially the swimsuit competition, degraded women and insulted Indian culture. Meanwhile, in their countries, some contestants said they were not worried about the protests. “I’m not worried, I’m looking forward to the day,” said Miss Singapore, Carol Tan Ai Li.


                Computer World, the former ABCL office for the Miss World pageant on Residency Road was ransacked by a group of six young people, claiming to be from “Indian Tigers”, on the afternoon of Sunday 27 October to protest against the holding the contest in the city. The youths brought iron bars hidden in their clothing and headed to the ABCL office after making inquiries. When told that the office for the Miss World had moved to the stage of the Cricket Association of the State of Karnataka (KSCA), the criminals chose to leave. However, they turned around and ransacked the old office saying it was a warning to the ABCL not to go ahead with the Miss World pageant. The attackers smashed windows and furniture in the office in protest against plans to hold the event in India. An Indian activist on the left, who had looted the offices of major multinational companies, had joined the growing campaign against the competition. “It is part of a conspiracy by the imperialist forces of the West”, he said. Meanwhile, journalists who had come to cover the story were greeted with batons by the police. An ABCL spokesperson said that they would go ahead with the contest despite everything.


                Sixteen women belonging to the “Federation of Opponents to the Miss World Contest” armed with rake and cow dung, and who pretended to be occasional shoppers, suddenly stormed the Godrej showroom located on Kasturba Street on Tuesday, October 29, at 11:30 am and they smeared the manure and coal tar on furniture, locks and even on soaps made by the sponsors of Miss World. In addition, they damaged the office furniture, filling system and refrigerators, shouted slogans against multinationals in general and Godrej, in particular, for sponsoring the contest. They also mistreated the employees in the showroom. This attack was misdirected. The vandalized showroom belonged to Godrej Steel and not Godrej Soaps the actual sponsors of the pageant. The aim of the activists was to intimidate the sponsors of the event. The city police commissioner, Sharat Chandra Burman, said officers arrested the women, who they believed the contest degraded them and would primarily benefit cosmetic companies. Protesters brought kerosene-soaked dried cow dung patties to the Bangalore showroom, apparently with the intention of setting the merchandise on fire and shouted slogans against the contest. The women would be detained in custody until November 11. Many Indians believed that the contest went against the Hindu rejection of scanty clothing. The Deputy Police Commissioner reinforced security on a large scale. “Contestants, sponsors and spectators will be protected,” he assured. In another protest, held on Thursday, October 31, feminists stopped the traffic with a mock Miss World contest to protest against the celebration of the beauty pageant. Approximately 1,000 activists from 11 women’s groups and students from Jawaharlal Nehru University carried posters and banners denouncing the degradation of women through such events.


                Student Ritesh Mehta, 17, spoke out in favor of holding the contest. “Miss World 1996 is definitely a boon for India, in terms of tourist dollars and general exposure. There is nothing wrong if women, who have worked to look beautiful and don’t mind showing off their beauty, parade in gowns. bathroom, which is just one of the criteria for deciding the winner. Additionally, Miss Worlds are required to spend much of their reigns doing charity work for downtrodden children and people in need around the world. The winners create a general awareness of social, environmental, cultural and political issues close to their hearts. And they are successful because they are confident, articulate, and talented women; in other words, the winner must have gone through all rounds of the contest for the judges to be convinced of that she is a woman of substance, the one who has the ingredients to be an ideal Miss World “.

                “In addition, people listen to beautiful women and winners can thus express their feelings effectively. What is illogical is the fact that some Indians feel that their culture would be negatively affected. Women from other countries are the ones who will parade in a bathing suit. Just because you are on stage in India in no way implies that the country’s heritage and values ​​will be eroded. As for an Indian candidate in a bathing suit, why not protest against the Miss India pageant, which has all “our sisters” being “watched”? Why have we been sending our girls to other countries since the pageants started? It doesn’t make sense. There is a lot of interest in the Personality: How else could a Manpreet Brar become the first runner-up at Miss Universe 1995? There is no obscenity involved in pageants (if there is, it’s on the viewer’s mind), which actually brings out better of a woman, physically, mentally and spiritually. Contests have represented the glory of being a woman since their inception, but I think modern pageants are more significant because they symbolize the growing power and respect that women are given throughout the world”.


                The possibility of organizing a protest against the Miss World beauty pageant in Bangalore would become violent was increasing, with the launch of a bomb in the place where the event would take place, occurred on Thursday, October 31. The bomb, aimed at the electrical transformer of the Karnataka State Cricket Association stadium, exploded near the reception building, about five meters from the transformer. Apparently it was thrown from the adjacent Mahatma Gandhi Park. Except for the broken window glass in the reception building, no other damage was noted and no arrests were reported. Furthermore, a member of the Legislative Assembly and a defender had alleged that the Karnataka government had leased the land to the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) for 99 years on the condition that the land be used only for the promotion of cricket. Since the ABCL was allowed to hold a beauty contest at the stadium, it violated the established condition. The petition presented by these two legislators would be heard in the Karnataka High Court. They also filed a petition asking the police authorities not to grant a license to serve liquor on the occasion of the contest after 9:00 pm. A group of farmers had gathered in the city to also present their protest. BJP deputy, Ananthkumar, would launch a statewide campaign highlighting the harmful effects of the event. Protests would take place in the following days and a large demonstration had been planned before the show began. Members of the “Akhil Bharathiya Vidyathi Parishath” (ABVP) held a demonstration in Chennai demanding the cancellation of the contest. They said the country’s culture and heritage would erode if the beauty event was allowed.





                Despite massive protests, looting, threats and bombs, the 89 candidates expected for the 46th edition of Miss World began to leave their countries of origin on Friday, November 1st, to arrive in India on Saturday, November 2, Sunday the 3rd or Monday the 4th as scheduled. At first there would be 95 contestants, but the organizations of six of them excused themselves from sending them for financial reasons, since they could not pay for the trip of their candidates to India and, in addition, pay franchise. Those who withdrew from the beginning were Miss BAHAMAS (Nicole Sophia Symonette), Miss BARBADOS (Renee Nicole Rawlins), Miss ICELAND (Auður Geirsdóttir), Miss MAURITIUS (Cindy Cesar), Miss NAMIBIA (Faghma Absalom) and Miss NEPAL (Poonam Ghimire). Some of the Misses who had just arrived at the New Delhi airport on November 3 were upset because some had to wait hours at the air terminal before some ABCL representative went to look for them and to top it off, those in charge of receiving them felt lost in their own city. But the girls were forbidden to speak of this to the press. From the airport, the candidates were transferred to the Maurya Sheraton hotel, located in the diplomatic enclave of Delhi, under strict security measures, and where they would stay until Wednesday, November 6.


                Miss TAHITI (Hinerava Hiro), wept after losing her purse and with it their personal jewelry worth $ 35,000 at the Indira Gandhi International Airport of New Delhi on Sunday, November 3. According to a report in the daily “The Asian Age”, to add insult to injury, there was no one to meet her at the airport, causing the girl to miss the elaborate reception that the contestants would have that night at the Maurya Sheraton hotel in New Delhi. The girls, once at the hotel, were greeted with local music and a Indian welcome ceremony coordinated by ABCL. The management of Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited, the organizers of the show, was less sentimental, citing a senior company official who said: “Such incidents are not rare and indeed often occur during a large-scale contest like this”. A formal complaint has been filed with the airport police, but there was very little chance that the purse and jewelry could be recovered.

Tahiti and India


                As the candidates arrived in New Delhi they were photographed for the official Miss World program. The first official activity of the contest took place on the night of Monday, November 4, with a presentation to the press in a lounge of the Maurya Sheraton hotel. This meeting was attended by a total of 70 candidates, as the representatives of Austria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, British Virgin Islands, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, Germany, Grenada, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Tunisia and Venezuela had not arrived, they were arriving in the country at that time or were waiting at the airport to be picked up. The young women were introduced by Stephen, son of the Morleys, alphabetically two by two on a little stage adorned with Indian emblems. Most of the girls greeted with the “Namaste”, an Indian greeting that consists of joining both hands. Miss Venezuela, Anna Cepinska, arrived in Bangalore that day with about 10 suitcases and a huge box (that looked like a refrigerator) where she packed her spectacular gown made with hundreds of straws symbolizing flames with a design by Zoraida Cata Trujillo, being the contestant with more baggage at the pageant. Her ball gown, in aqua green crepe and crystals on the trai , was by designer Ángel Sánchez. By the way, Miss Brazil, Anuska Prado, did not get her suitcases when she arrived in India. And the nightmare lasted four days until they finally appeared, just in time before traveling to Seychelles !! Happily, Miss Puerto Rico, Marisa Hernández, lent her clothes for those four harrowing days.

                The following day, a first group of candidates recorded the presentation of Spectacular Costumes from different parts of New Delhi, such as the Maurya Sheraton Hotel, the India Gate monument and the House of Parliament. In the evening, the Welcome Dinner was held in the gardens of the Maurya Sheraton Hotel, beautifully decorated as if it was a temple and the contestants were presented individually and in alphabetical order as they descended through the beautiful setting. At first, the Prime Minister of India, Haradanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda, would attend the welcome dinner as a guest of honor, but due to protests over his possible presence, he chose to cancel. This dinner was attended by all the contestants except Miss Ecuador, who got sick from something she ate the day before, and Miss Tunisia, who had not arrived until that moment. But Miss TUNISIA (Ibtissem Lahmar) was expected until the last minute and never arrived. The reasons for her absence are not entirely clear, but two situations were being considered: The first, that the Tunisian organization could not pay for her registration and decided to send her rather to Miss International held in Japan on October 27, whose franchise was free. Or, that the Miss could not arrive because she classified as second runner-up and the three winners had to stay a couple of more weeks in Japan promoting the contest and fulfilling obligations with the sponsors, so that, not knowing that she would reach so high in the Japanese competition, the organization did not have a replacement in time to send that one to represent the country to the Morley contest.


                Miss Hungary, Miss Taiwan and Miss Turkey competed in Miss Universe ’96. Miss Bolivia and Miss Uruguay were finalists of Miss South America ’96. The Costa Rican was in the Coconut International Queen ’95, Miss Philippines went to Miss Expo Internacional ’95 (where she was 4th. runner-up) and Miss Singapore was at Miss Hawaiian Tropic Internacional ’95, while the British girl participated in the Miss Europe ’95 representing Wales. The Trinidadian had just won Miss Caraibes Hibiscus ’96 and had previously been at Maja Internacional ’95 while Miss Canada took part in Miss Oktoberfest ’96. The tallest candidate, not only in this edition but in history up to that point, was Miss Italy, at 6 feet 3 inches tall, while the shortest was Miss Tanzania, who barely reached 5 feet 2 inches. The oldest contestant was Miss Grenada, at 25, and the youngest, at 17, were the girls from Gibraltar, Kenya, Russia, Switzerland and Thailand. The Macedonian rookie, also 17, was among the tallest contestants at her 6 feet 1 inch tall. Miss Nigeria was the daughter of British singer Patti Boulaye and her country’s first mixed race woman (half-Hungarian). Here is a table with the most important data of each of the 88 contestants of Miss World 1996:

01AMERICAN VIRGIN ISLANDSEmoliere williams181.75Student. Ambitions to become a NeurologistClaire’s Collection of California
02ARGENTINAFernanda Vanessa Fernández Ramírez181.68Student of Commerce and Humanities and ModelNorma Levy
03ARUBAAfranina Fiona Henriquez211.75Hotel Administration StudentRonchi De Cuba
04AUSTRALIANicole Anne Smith241.70Work in PR and Promotions“Couturier” Mario Croce
05AUSTRIABettina Buxbaumer231.70Professional modelRitmodi Pearl
06BANGLADESHRhenuma Dilruba201.70Graphic design studentRoxana Salam
07BELGIUMLaurence borremans181.78Law studentStijn Helsen
08BOLIVIAAndrea Mariana Forti Sandoval19N.A.StudentIngrid holster
09BONAIREJhane-Louise Landwier181.70StudentEdgar knock
10BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINABelma Zvrko181.73StudentTim “Nara Sayo” Creation
11BOTSWANAJoyce manase201.75Social Sciences StudentIngrid collins
12BRAZILAnuska Valéria Prado211.80Psychology studentJosé Luis Abarca / Gerardo Rebollo
13BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDSAyana Ineta Glasgow211.70Administrative CadetPatricia from Brooklyn, NYC
14BULGARIAViara Kamenova211.78From Sofia. Economics StudentGina nick
15CANADAMichelle Carrie Lillian Weswaldi191.78Student. Lives in Woodbridge, OntarioLupe Ceron / Patricia Jones
16CHILELuz Francisca Valenzuela Hölzel201.70Student. Lives in SantiagoRuben Campos
17COLOMBIACarolina Arango Corrales191.76Work in Public RelationsJaime Arango
18COSTA RICANatalia Carvajal Lorenzo211.70Sales Executive in a hotelJose Maria Junco
19CROATIAVanja rupena181.78StudentNada Dosen
20CURAÇAOYandra Angelica Faulborn191.75Student. Wants to be a journalistN.A.
21CYPRUSMaria Papaprodromou191.65Marketing and Terramoza StudentStalo Theodorou
22CZECH REPUBLICPetra Minarova181.80ModelDagmar Brezinovia
23DOMINICAN REPUBLICIdelsa Nuñez Torres211.80Tv presenterGeanina Azar
24ECUADORJennifer Lynn Graham Dumani191.73ModelPatricia Klein
25ESTONIAMari-Liis Kapustin181.75Student. Lives in PaideMerike Paaro
26FINLANDHanna Hirvonen201.78ParamedicAtlier Galant
27FRANCESeverine Deroualle221.85ModelNicol as Vianney Cybeline Florent D’acy
28GERMANYMelanie Ernst181.75StudentBarbara Schwarzer
29GHANASheila Azuntaba201.78Insurance OfficerJoyce Ababio from Vogue Style
30GIBRALTARSamantha Lane171.75StudentChristine Maginniis
31GREECEEirini Skliva181.75Model in AthensTheodoros Trandulis
32GRENADAAria Johnson251.75Marine Ecology StudentChris Santos / Gregory Medina
33GUAMAileen Maravilla231.60Marketing RepresentativeWhite House
34GUATEMALAMaria Gabriela Rosales Castallaño191.70Law studentVictor Manuel Del Cid
35HOLLANDPetra Hoost201.78Sales Manager in photographic storeMarissa Allen
36HONG KONGChillie Poon241.75StewardessKaren Chan
37HUNGARYAndrea Deák191.83StudentZsusza Imrik
38INDIARani Joan Jeyaraj221.68ModelRitu Kumar
39IRELANDNiamh Marie Redmond191.78Economics and Business StudentKathy De Stafford Designs
40ISRAELTalia “Tali ” Leventhal181.78Haifa city modelGottex
41ITALYMara De Gennaro241.90Manager of a family store in San SeveroRegina Shrecker from Florence
42JAMAICASelena Marie Delgado211.73Administrative AgentArlene Richards
43JAPANMiyuki Fujii211.75Gym and Aerobics InstructorStetana Ricci
44KENYAPritpal Kulwant Dhamu Singh171.73Beauty Therapy Student . Lives in MombasaAlan Donovan
45KOREASoo-jin Seol221.73Oriental Painting StudentKay Kim
46LATVIAAnta Dukure221.83Manager of a Modeling SchoolGunta Uptte
47LEBANONNisrine Sami Nasr211.73School teacher in BeirutGaby Abirached
48LITHUANIADaiva Anuzyte181.75StudentJouzas Statkievicuis
49MACAUGuiomar Madeira da Silva Pedruco221.70StudentN.A.
50MACEDONIA F.Y.R.O.Vera Mesterovic171.86StudentMaria Antonasievic
51MALAYSIAQu-An How Cheok Kuan201.78Business Studies StudentBill Keith
52MEXICOYéssica Salazar González211.73ModelMarco A. González
53NEW ZEALANDKelly rose Mischewski221.82Analyst Technician in AucklandNancy Baulcomb
54NIGERIAEmma Aret Patricia Komlosy191.75Law and Politics StudentPatti Boulaye
55NORWAYEva Sjoholt241.75Law and Languages ​​student. From Lurøya IslandHamid Badavinejad
56PANAMANorma Elida Pérez Rodríguez211.70Industrial Engineering StudentFederico Visuetti
57PARAGUAYMaria Ingrid Götze Scheunemann231.73Marketing studentRicord Aquino
58PERUMonica Chacón De Vettori211.75International Relations StudentRicardo Davila
59PHILIPPINESDaisy Garcia Reyes201.75ModelBob Mackie
60POLANDAgnieszka Zielinska201.75StudentDanuta Gorna
61PORTUGALAna Mafalda Schaefer de Almeida Santos211.78Professional Model in LisbonJose Carlos
62PUERTO RICOMarisa de la Caridad Hernández Cardona211.75School teacherEdgardo Bonilla
63ROMANIACarmen Radoi211.75Physical Training and Sports StudentCatinca Roman
64RUSSIAVictoriya Tsapitsyna17N.A.Administration studentLolita Marashan
65SEYCHELLESChristina Efi Pillay221.70Administrative assistantBernard Chandras
66SINGAPORECarol Tan Ai Li191.68Interior Design Project CoordinatorDaniel Chua from the Dress Line Bridal Boutique
67SLOVAKIALinda Lencova181.75ModelSilvia Brunovska
68SLOVENIAAlenka Vindis181.82Medical studentUrsa Drofenik
69SOUTH AFRICANonhlanhla Peggy-Sue Khumalo211.78Communications Student and ModelDe Patri
70SPAINPatricia Ruiz Fernandez191.75ModelVersuss by Versace
71SWAZILANDOlive healy231.75Bank clerkAndre Belingan
72SWEDENÅsa Margareta Johansson221.82Gothenburg city modelLars Wallin
73SWISSMélanie winiger171.73StudentLisbeth Egli
74TAHITIHinerava hiro181.70ModelEve Reynaud
75TAIWAN, CZECH REP. FROM CHINAChen Hsiao-Fen231.78Commerce and Industry StudentChung Chu-zi
76TANZANIAShose Akaro Sinare201.57Student at Dar Es SalaamShose Akaro & Sally
77THAILANDCynthia Carmen Burbridge “Sirinya Winsiri”171.75ModelKalawin
78TRINIDAD & TOBAGOSharda Ramlogan231.68Secretary and ReceptionistChristopher Santos / Gregory Medina
79TURKEYSerpil Sevilay Ozturk191.78Radio, TV and Film studentMehmet Gundem
80UGANDASheba Kereere191.73StudentRedempta Kawesa
81UKRAINENatasha Shvachko211.78Works in Administrative and Model ServicesUkraine Development Center Module
82UNITED KINGDOMRachael Liza Warner221.73ModelCarol Lee
83U.S.A.Kelly Webber201.78StudentGuyRex
84URUGUAYClaudia Veronica Gallarreta Olmedo191.75Economy studentMaria Fernanda Cadenas
85VENEZUELAAnna Cepinska Miszczak181.82Student of Commerce and EconomicsZoraida Cata Trujillo
86YUGOSLAVIASlavica Krivokuca181.75StudentMaria Antonasievic
87ZAMBIAAlice Banda211.75Personal Assistant . It’s from KalulushiElizabeth Mwanza / Paul De Sousa
88ZIMBABWENomusa Ndiweni191.82Drama StudentBasil Kapnias


               Miss World President Eric Morley made a desperate request for a peaceful protest to the beauty pageant. Speaking to reporters during a press conference in New Delhi on Monday, November 4, Morley said: “We do not regret our decision to bring the Miss World pageant to India. Our only appeal to those who are against this pageant is: protest, but peacefully”. His wife and international president of the company, Julia, said they had never faced such strong opposition in the past, adding: “They are rebels without a cause, but I still respect and honor their feelings and thoughts. But nothing can be achieved. with these protests and demonstrations”. Meanwhile, some of the contestants complained that they had been locked up in the hotel for three days and that they had not set foot outside of it since they arrived in the country. “I need to breathe fresh air” yelled Miss Singapore, Carol Tan.


               On Wednesday, November 6, a cyclone devastated the eastern and western districts of Godavari, in the Bay of Bengal, some 560 miles from Bangalore, leaving more than 2,000 fatalities. And that same day, the 88 participants traveled from New Delhi on an Air India flight to the Seychelles Islands where they would film outdoors their swimsuits and most of the spectacular costumes that would be seen during the broadcast of the contest on November 23.The tropical paradise, Seychelles, thus welcomed the participants, who were accommodated on the fifth floor of the now-defunct Berjaya Mahé Beach hotel, located in Port Glaud and which shortly before belonged to the Sheraton chain, in the western part of the island of Mahé. Upon arrival, the Misses had a press conference where they were photographed and they smiled as they talked about “we are all winners” (Miss Zimbabwe) and “helping those in need” (Miss Malaysia). The idyllic beaches and lush tropical vegetation provided an ideal backdrop for the vibrantly colored outfits of the beautiful women who had a lot of fun … It was definitely not a case of extreme work and no fun, there was time for everything. It was a novel experience especially for many of the Misses from the cold northern European countries, while they were immersed in the sun and the sea. The crystal clear water, the golden sun … what more could they ask for? It was the common sentiment expressed, but, at 9:30 p.m. they must be locked in their rooms. One candidate complained: “I thought Miss World would be fun”…

Berjaya Mahé Beach Hotel

                Traditionally, each Miss World contest has had a special music video done for the occasion, where all the participants got together to express their feelings while competing, as a gesture of thanks to the host country, and also an opportunity test the culture of the different participating countries. The video of this year was partially filmed in Seychelles, and where the candidates also showed their lovely beachwear. Other parts of the video would be filmed in India, with the delegates looking beautiful in the traditional Indian sari and other costumes from the mystical country. On Sunday, November 10, and as a farewell to the Islands, the contestants participated in a Fashion Show at the Berjaya Mahé Beach hotel. The young women stayed on the islands until Monday, November 11, when they returned to India, this time to the southern city of Bangalore, the venue for the event.


                An Indian teenager suffered burns during a protest against the Miss World pageant on Thursday, November 7, when organizers claimed that ticket sales had begun. Police took the 18-year-old college student to hospital after catching fire when burning an effigy of Karnataka’s prime minister. Protesters against the competition aims ban to the Westernized Indians and said they saw the beauty pageant as an attempt to impose a foreign way of life. “The young mind can be shaped in any way you want. It is mostly young people who are falling prey to Western culture. We see it in our daily life”, said Vishnu Hari Dalmia, a member of one of the protest organizations.


                For its part, an Indian group that threatened to commit suicide en masse in protest against the Miss World pageant, said on Friday, November 8, that its members would take cyanide pills to mitigate the agony of setting themselves on fire. “Many are worried about the agony of being burned. Each of us will have a cyanide pill to escape that agony”, said K.N. Shashikala, leader of the group. But J.H. Patel, chief minister of the state of Karnataka, where much of the contest will be held, said that the strict security arrangements at the stadium would foil “Mahila Jagran” (Women’s Awakening) plans. “She is an empty threat. The police will take care of those elements. The show will continue”. Bangalore police planned a massive security operation involving more than 12,300 officers to safeguard the November 23 event, which drew an estimated television audience of 2 billion viewers the previous year. Shashikala said the group had abandoned previous plans in which one of its members was going to set herself on fire each day, saying they wanted to preserve their suicide squad of 15 brave women for the final night. “We have to live to thwart the final event,” she said. “We will sneak into the stadium and burn ourselves. We already bought tickets.” Shashikala added that she feared that events like the Miss World pageant would increase promiscuity and prostitution. “Foreign visitors will attract underage girls into prostitution,” she said. “It will definitely affect our culture”.


                As the contestants were warmly welcomed on the red carpet in Seychelles, where the swimsuit shootings had been scheduled, the ABCL, organizers of the Miss World in India, had taken the threat posed by the protesters more seriously and decided move three events, including the prestigious Coronation Ball, out of Bangalore. The announcement came from none other than Karnataka’s Minister of State for the Interior, R. Mohan Baig, at the end of a high-level meeting of senior police and interior department officials to review threats and security arrangements. According to the revised calendar, the Miss Photogenic event, scheduled for November 17, would be held at the Jade Garden in the town of Devanahalli; the Miss Personality (November 19) at Doddaballapur, and the Coronation Ball (November 24) at the Yelahanka Air Force Training Command Base. In a related development, the “Sangh Parivar” (Family of the “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh”), representing leaders of the aforementioned right-wing party, the “Bharatiya Janata” Party and the “Vishwa Hindu Parishad”, met in Bangalore to define their strategy to oppose the event in the city. They had decided to start their protests from Monday, November 11, by organizing peaceful demonstrations in front of the Karnataka state cricket stadium. Another report indicated that Amitabh Bachchan asked the most popular actor in the region, Rajkumar, to support the beauty pageant. Speaking to reporters, Bachchan said that he did not regret choosing Bangalore to host the contest.


                The city of Bangalore had literally been taken over by the police. There were around 12,500 officers and policemen with battle gear ready to protect the participants, foreign visitors and prevent the advance of the protesters, so military and paramilitary forces were put into service. The organizers, for security reasons, decided to take some of the events to the outskirts of the city of Bangalore. The contingent of the police force, including the crack units drawn from the center, would be much larger than during the SAARC summit organized by the city in November 1986. The Minister of State for Home Affairs, Mr. Roshan Baig, held talks with senior city and state police officers to discuss security arrangements for the beauty event. A special bomb squad was also dispatched from Pune.

                The ABCL organizers would pay 3.5 million rupees, a hefty amount, to the state government for security and other arrangements. Meanwhile, Amitabh Bachchan, president of ABCL, would get a Z-plus category security, the highest in the city. In addition to the necessary security personnel, local police were providing Bachchan with two personal bodyguards and a bulletproof car following reports that the man could be the main target of the beauty pageant protesters. The caravan would be completed by two police jeeps, a pilot in the front and an escort in the rear, who would escort the bulletproof car throughout the city. Other reports suggested that the police were facing a problem with the bulletproof car, as it only had four of them, which were already reserved for some dignitaries, including one for the wife of Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda and another for her son and Minister H.D. Revanna from Karnataka. Meanwhile, the BJP state unit announced that it would hold a protest rally in front of Bangalore airport on November 12, when the Miss World contestants arrived in the city. Before the arrival of the Misses, security had been reinforced at the Chinnasamy stadium and at the hotel where the beauties would be staying. Paramilitary forces came to Bangalore to help the police uphold the law. On the other hand, Amitabh Bachchan had asked the public to trust him and that there would not be an iota of vulgarity at the event. He was happy with the response the show had received from around the world and many foreign dignitaries had already started to arrive.


                The sale of tickets for the Miss World pageant began on November 8, Narma Corporation had the exclusive contract on the wholesale of tickets and had promised a guaranteed sale of 10,500 tickets to ABCL and would sell another 6,000 later. Of the premium areas with a price of RS 25,000, RS 14,900 and RS 9,900, around 1,500 tickets would be sold and the rest would be tickets for the stands that cost RS 2,900 and RS 1,900. Premium tickets would be sold at the Taj West End hotel while grandstand tickets would be sold at the stadium. City Bank had also started selling tickets to its Mastercard cardholders, one of the event’s sponsors in India. To give you an idea of the high ticket prices, the change at that time was 35.43 rupees to the US dollar and the average annual salary was 12,000 rupees.

                However, the long meandering line present in front of the ticket counter at cricket matches or the cinema was completely absent at Chinnaswamy Stadium. Despite all the noise and controversy, the counters at the stadium for the November 23 Miss World pageant did not draw a large crowd. Ticket sales for the RS 1,900 and RS 2,900 categories saw very few buyers. The more expensive tickets seemed to be finding a better market. Norma Corporation, which was handling ticket sales on behalf of ABCL, hoped to sell the tickets within the next two days. The first ‘Diamond Class’ ticket (25,000 RS) was sold to Mr. M. Srinivas of the Taj Hotel Group by Norma Corporation. The Sultan of Brunei had reserved 200 tickets in the Diamond Class category. This category was in high demand from the elite and famous Hollywood personalities were expected to attend the pageant. So rubbing shoulders with society’s ‘Creme De la creme’ was an added attraction to buying Diamond Class. In addition to viewing the contest, Diamond Class buyers could attend the Coronation Ball. The Gold Club ticket was priced at RS 14,900. Members of the Gold Club would see the pageant and also the Miss Photogenic event on November 17th. The Silver Club cost RS 9,900. They would attend the Carnival in addition to the final. The Norma Corporation had been assigned 10,000 tickets of various denominations and had opened offices for sale in Delhi, Mumbai and Madras. Although the Chinnaswamy Stadium had a capacity of about 50,000 people, the capacity of seats for sale would be restricted to 20,500 and most of the seats would be in the lowest denomination.

               The Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state unit held a demonstration in front of Prime Minister J.H. Patel’s residence on Sunday, November 10, demanding to cancel the Miss World contest at the Karnataka State Cricket Association stadium in Bangalore. The protesters, before presenting a memorandum to the Chief Minister, accused him of being an agent of Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited and shouted conscience against Mr. Bachchan. Separately, a company spokesperson emphasized their claim that nearly all tickets for the show, valued at Rs 50 million, had been sold out. He said that the lack of response at the ticket counter at the KSCA stadium was not the ideal way to assess the response, as a large number of tickets were being sold directly to companies, Citibank credit card holders and agencies in foreign countries. He was also taking care of who bought the tickets. The effort was to keep protesters away from the event, he added. A percentage of the proceeds, estimated at $ 1 million, would go to the Karnataka Spastic Society. In addition, inspired by the Government’s supportive nod, ABCL had requested exemption from entertainment tax for tickets and called the show a “cultural event”.


                The Karnataka High Court ordered the state government not to provide any assistance to the organizing firm of the Miss World pageant, Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited. The court granted this directive in a court petition filed by a women’s organization against the performance of the show in Bangalore. However, the court did not prevent the government from providing adequate security to the contestants.


                A survey conducted in some 25 villages in Karnataka revealed that the general public were not overly upset by the contest. Approximately 56.5% of the 1,253 respondents were in favor of the contest. About 59% of the men supported it while 54% of the women were in its favor. The younger age group was more in favor of the event, while the older group disapproved of it. 66% of the men and women in the 18 to 35 group favored the show. 53.7% of the people in the 36-50 group were in favor. But only 37.2% of the people in the group over 51 were in favor and were stronger in their disapproval. The poll highlighted the fact that all the heat and dust the Miss World pageant generated had brought a lot of publicity. Even in the most remote town, people knew about the pageant.


                 Srinidhi Anantharaman of Geodesik Techniques, who was in charge of the stage, said that 60% of the work for the contest was complete. A massive 70-ton iron structure took center stage. Spotlights and audio systems would be installed on six massive towers, one of which will be 50 feet high. As rehearsals for the pageant were expected to begin on November 12, 100 men had been recruited who worked day and night to complete the stage before the deadline. Prominent South Indian filmmaker Priyadarshan and art director Sabu Cyril were in charge of the cultural programs while Ilayaraja, the famous music composer, was in charge of the music. Farah Khan and Chinni Prakash, who had choreographed many successful dance numbers in the Indian film industry, would do a special choreography for the beauty pageant with a couple of dances. Prabhu Deva, the Michael Jackson of India, would be part of the cultural program. The pop singer Alisha, the actor Javed Jaffrey and the actress Juhi Chawla (Miss India 1984) would also participate in the cultural shows. The whole event, the largest in the history of Bangalore, would be carried out before a backdrop of Hampi (ruins of the kingdom Vijayanagar of the fourteenth century) and would have 2,000 technicians, 480 dancers, the 88 contestants and 16 elephants.


                The 88 candidates said goodbye to the Seychelles at noon on Monday, November 11, boarded an Air Seychelles flight and arrived at the Indira Gandhi airport in New Delhi as there was no direct flight to Bangalore, so they had to arrive in the capital of India from there to take a connecting flight to the host city. The Misses arrived at Bangalore’s HAL Airport (also known as Hindustano Airport, which previously served that city) late at night aboard an Air India flight. To cheer the contestants on, Julia Morley told the girls, “You will love Bangalore, there are many elephants there”, without imagining what awaited them. Exhausted from the long journey, they all received floral ornaments on their necks and “kumkum” on their foreheads upon arrival and were guarded by rigorously armed men to the competition host hotel, the Windsor Manor Sheraton & Towers in Bangalore, built with arches and white columns, a magnificent example of imperial grace. But not all were garlands for the organizers, since the city lacked many basic elements to host an event of this type.

                For example, Bangalore had a single agency that rented luxury cars. The Department of Tourism had a big plan to import 10 luxury cars, but withdrew when the bill was estimated at 22 lakhs each. Europcar, the official transport, only had Marutis, Esteems and Ambassadors. The most cynical Bangaloreans wondered what a Maruti 800 or Ambassador would look like with its beautiful occupants. Cars were not the only thing on ABCL’s mind, who were trying to avoid fierce protests from those who opposed the “cultural invasion.” Hundreds of police officers lined the streets as jeeps and vans full of police, armed with rifles, flanked the vans that transported the most beautiful women from 88 countries to the hotel in the center of the southern Indian city. Some 200 protesters had been stationed outside the airport to protest the arrival of the Misses but were dispersed by the authorities and 17 of them were arrested by the police of the metropolis of 6 million inhabitants. The city of Bangalore had two scheduled power outages every day; water supply only on alternate days; endless traffic jams; and jhuggis (slums) that would greet the beauty queens in their city tour. The news of the arrival of the candidates to Bangalore was somewhat overshadowed due to a terrible plane crash that mourned the country. A few hours after the girls landed in Delhi en route to Bangalore, a tragedy occurred that would eventually become India’s worst air disaster in history. A Boeing 747 of Saudi Arabian Airlines and Ilyushin Il-76 Kazakhstan cargo plane collided midair, very close to New Delhi, killing 349 passengers.


                On Tuesday, November 12, a group of contestants did their filming in their Spectacular Costumes in the Lalbagh Botanical Garden, at Cubbon Park and in the same Windsor Manur, and later attended the welcoming ceremony called “Carnival of Bangalore”. Hundreds of policemen lined up the 2 miles from the Windsor Manor hotel to the Air Force Main Square where the Diwali Carnival was organized to show the beauties a bit of Karnataka’s cultural richness. This Carnival, the inaugural event of the contest in the city, was dedicated to the Armed Forces of the country with military bands and specialists in acrobatics. The contest was officially opened by K.B. Singh, head of the Training Command. ABCL, by dedicating Carnival to the air force, aroused patriotic sentiment. Giant papier-mâché figures loomed over the ground, clay pots turned into lamps, lights and vibrant music gave the event the atmosphere of Carnival while displaying the cultural diversity of India. The 88 slender contestants arrived dressed in sarees of various shades, made from Indian silk. The girls paraded past the various flower-decked stalls, surrounded by eager crowds. The Carnival area resembled an artisan village and was divided into 3 sections. A first section was made up of ethnic food stalls, a second section was for handicrafts and handlooms, while the third had the stage in which folk dances from various states of the country were performed. The evening ended with a spectacular fireworks display. The beauty queens, elegantly draped from neck to toe, seemed to override the objection of vulgarity. The beauties, accompanied by Eric and Julia Morley, dazzled the spectators of this first activity of the contest. The following day, Wednesday, November 13, was dedicated exclusively to rehearsals at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Miss UK


                On Thursday, November 14, the children’s party that every year Miss World organized was held and where the contestants shared a pleasant morning with infants premises while celebrating the “Children’s Day” in a kind of town made of mud and thatched roof established at the base of the Air Force and decorated with colorful balloons and flags, creating a festive atmosphere. The pyramidal shape gate surrounded by a giant butterfly’s mask caught the attention of the children. The event, conceived by Usha RK, a cultural events organizer from Bangalore and who had also organized the Diwali Carnival, began with a show by the magician Uday Jadugar, followed by a short concert by the prodigy child Cuckoo Sandyaya from Goa, who sang some songs in English and Hindi while playing the piano. This special party was attended by about 300 children of the Spastics Society of Karnataka and Spastics Unit of the School of Jubilee of the Air Force. A Rajasthani dance also entertained the children. The motto of the Miss World was “Beauty with a purpose” and the participants, dressed in casual attire, wanted to show their concern for the children who were not living a standard life and intermingled with them showing their concern for the less lucky ones.

                The party was followed by a dinner held that night. The “Charity Dinner” to raise funds for the Karnataka Spastic Society and the Variety Club International was held in a dazzling performance around 8:00 pm in the pool area of ​​the Windsor Manor Sheraton & Towers hotel. Celebrities in attendance included southern film idol Rajnikant and film personality Ambrish, international business mogul Vijay Mallya, international host and star Richard Steinmetz, Vani Ganapathy, and former beauty queen Lynette Williams. The 88 charming Misses entered the venue in their evening gowns at around 8:30 pm. Stephen Morley of the Miss World Organization invited the contestants in pairs to the stage and introduced them to the guests before they left for their respective tables previously assigned with numbers. Raffle tickets were given to each contestant and they had to sell them at their respective tables. Guests were asked to search their wallets and hand over whatever they could afford for the tickets. The evening’s host was Uday Mathan while the well-known band from Bangalore “Shyam and the West Wind” entertained guests with upbeat western pop music late into the night. Later, recorded western music was played as guests danced on the dance floor at the corner of the pool. Delicious continental and Indian food was served in buffet form and delicious desserts were attractively laid out.

               The final gala of the evening was an auction led by Eric Morley. The contestants had brought gifts of their respective countries that symbolized their place of origin and varied from paintings to toiletry bags, stuffed koala bears, fascinating dolls and handicraft items. These gifts were auctioned to the highest bidders present at the performance. The Morley family also bid on the items that were auctioned. Sanjiv Gupta, CEO of ABCL said: “I am very happy with the way things have turned out so far and it is good to know that the proceeds from this dinner will be of great benefit to the two charities in question”. Mrs. Julia Morley, International President of Miss World, emphasized the following: “Given the theme of Beauty with a Purpose this year, profits from the Charity Dinner will be shared by the Society Spastic of Karnataka and the Variety Club International”.

               The objective of the Miss World contest was not just promoting physical beauty, but promoting “Beauty with a Purpose”. Once crowned, Miss World traveled all over the world for most of the year spreading the message of “Beauty with a Purpose” and helping to generate funds for several charities. Since its inception, the Miss World had raised millions of dollars for charity. This year, the charity earnings would be shared by the Karnataka spastic society and the Variety Club International. Spastic society is a voluntary organization that is dedicated to providing service to children with cerebral palsy caused by damage to the brain. This can occur before, after or during birth. The organizers said that Miss World, whose final would be televised in 115 countries, offered India the opportunity to show their hospitality and knowledge. Bangalore, a southern city and the center of the computer industry of India, had been chosen to demonstrate that a nation that many foreigners considered poor and backward could be relatively modern. But from the perspective of the contestants, Bangalore looked more like an armed field than to a modern metropolis.


                A 24-year-old man burned himself to death on Thursday, November 14, in front of hundreds of people, to protest the Miss World beauty pageant in India. Suresh Kumar, an unemployed tailor, shouted slogans against the pageant as it caught fire in the heart of the southern city of Madurai. He became drenched with chemicals and was engulfed in flames in seconds before they could stop him, according to local reporters. Kumar, a member of the Democratic Youth Federation of India, a youth wing of the Communist Party of India and led by extremist Marxists, died in hospital. He had burns over 90 percent of his body. The Communist Party of India had been the most outspoken of the national political parties that were protesting the event. Police were on alert to prevent a riotous reaction in Bangalore, some 270 miles north of Madurai. More than 20 organizations had come out against the event on grounds ranging from the commercialization of women to the contamination of Indian culture. Bangalore Police Deputy Commissioner G.K. Bekal, who was in charge of security for the event, said of the suicide in Madurai: “We are on guard. It may have repercussions here”. Police deployed tackles around the places where the 88 contestants would appear in the period prior to the finals, including a Charity Ball held on the same day. “The incident is regrettable. Our condolences go out to the family of the deceased”, said an ABCL spokesman. He added that he did not believe that the incident affected the calendar of the contest.

                The next day, some 1,000 people peacefully demonstrated against the contest in the streets of Bangalore. Meanwhile, the 88 contestants stayed at their hotel guarded by 100 policemen inside and another 100 outside. Later, they went by bus to a rehearsal at the Chinnaswamy cricket stadium, site of the finals, flanked by jeeps of armed police who accompanied them everywhere. In other parts of the city, protesters chanted “Down with Miss World”, echoing the words spoken by Suresh Kumar the day before he lit his kerosene-soaked clothes in Madurai, a city in neighboring Tamil Nadhu state. The last words of Kumar reportedly were “water, water, water”. But before passersby put out the flames, he had burns on 90 percent of his body. “We are very saddened by what happened, but the show will continue”, said Sanjiv Gupta, a spokesman for ABCL.

                But was it really worth dying for? For Suresh Kumar, it was. “He has sacrificed for the cause, the great cause of women”, said Pramila Nesargi, a member of the Karnataka state assembly for the BJP. “His name will go down in history for the cause of women, their honor and their right”. Nesargi turned her words into action, tying the contest by presenting four separate legal challenges that could force the hosts to restrict the finals or even cancel it. Karnataka’s high court would decide on Monday, November 18, on her allegation that the contest violated the laws of liquor licensing and noise pollution and put national security at risk because some events were taking place on the grounds of the Ministry of Defense. “It is against Indian culture, it is against Indian tradition, it is against all laws and public morals and all religions in the world”, said Nesargi. “It is vulgar in their exposure and it is commodifying women. The beauty of a woman is not for sale and if she intends to sell, she is reducing herself to chattel”. But not all the women agreed. Phoolan Devi, the famous “Bandit Queen” of India and now a member of the parliament after 11 years in jail, was quoted as saying: “What would if beauty is presented beautifully, with a twist and Indian style?”. She accused the BJP of politicizing the issue when such events had already taken place in India. For his part, the spokesperson for the contest, Ashwani Singla, said: “They say that Miss World is obscene and vulgar, but there is no nudity”. “Is it vulgar to help spastics? Is it vulgar to reward women for hard work?. These women are achievers. They will become doctors, lawyers, runway models. Is this vulgar? How dare they!” he said enraged.

              Feminists argued that the campaign for Indian rights against the contest was less due to concern for women’s status than to the desire to close all winding winds that blew from the West, especially if they were associated with liberal values. “The BJP is opposed on behalf of Indian culture, and we consider this motto of Indian culture as a euphemism to reinforce the fundamentalist point of view of women as subordinated”, said Brindear Karat, leader of Women’s CPI. For his part, leaders of a militant group of Indian women threatened on Saturday, November 16, with ruining the Miss World show by organizing suicide protests with human torches. For her part, Julia Morley, president of the Miss World Organization, said: “It is enough, we have offered our hand to these people to come and see what Miss World is about. But their blind prejudice is very difficult to overcome”. Julia was shocked and saddened by the negative attitude shown by many towards Miss World. Upon learning of the immolation of a young man in Madurai protesting the contest, she was sad and at the same time she enraged. She felt that the young man had been manipulated by strong deceptive elements to whom she accused of murderers. Julia added that extremist politicians and groups were sensationalizing the contest for their own ends and that the people of Bangalore were upset with the bad publicity generated by a minority. The contest sought the well-being of children since the profits of the charity dinner would be intended to help the less privileged children. Eric Morley said “We are sad for his family and friends, it is sad for any human being, but in no way has to do with what we are doing”. The day Saturday, November 16, was a day dedicated to the rest of the beauties. 

                On Sunday the 17th, protests continued and the Marxist leader of the Communist Party of India, Subhasini Ali, was among the 600 leftists arrested in Bangalore that day. Police with batons surrounded the crowd, mostly women, as they sought to storm the hotel that housed the contestants in the contest, which had security guards posted at the luxurious Windsor Manor Sheraton & Towers hotel. The police, wearing riot gear, arrested the demonstrators who began the march from the train station of the city, at about 2 miles from the hotel, and prevented from reaching where the entrants were staying. The protesters, mostly women, were detained for about two hours and released after receiving a warning, said Commissioner of the Police of Bangalore, Sharat Chandra Burman.


                On Saturday, November 16, the contestants attended a special dinner presented by Air India in honor of the sponsors of the event at the Windsor Manor Sheraton & Towers. Due to the protests, the girls could not leave the hotel or they could know the tourist sites of Bangalore. “We can not run the risk of something happening to the participants, we are forced to restrict their displacements”, said local police chief, Chandra Burman. “We have been very busy and we have not been able to see anything from India”, said Miss UK, Rachel Warner, while she prepared for a rehearsal. “I would have loved to go for a walk and get to know this interesting country, but I understand the circumstances that we are going through, the people here has been very warm and very kind, at least we have the freedom to walk throughout the hotel”. added the British beauty. And it is that young ladies from all over the world lived rehearsing in one of the hotel’s ballrooms and, in their free time, locked up in their rooms located on the three and four floors of the hotel, they could not do anything but put together improvised and clandestine parties , like the one who organized Miss Venezuela and Miss Uruguay in their room with several of the other participants such as Miss Holland, Miss Switzerland, Miss Ecuador, Miss Mexico and Miss India, among others, who were scolded by the chaperones for the scandal they had done. The truth is that the girls had managed to know each other better thanks to the confinement.

Venezuela, Mexico and Miss World 1995

               The candidates for the title of beauty expressed their surprise and concern for the breadth of the protests that were developed against the contest. Miss Ireland, Niamh Redmond, said the participants were getting nervous and were tired of so many protests. Miss Jamaica, Selena Delgado, who shared a room with Miss Grenada, said the same thing and added that several girls had thought about retiring from the competition. Meanwhile, Miss Korea cried every night and only wanted to return home. Miss Austria was frustrated for not having independence. “They never leave you alone and I have not seen almost anything, only when we go and come from the stadium”, said Austrian Bettina Buxbaumer and Miss France, Séverine Deroalle, agreed with her. “I have not seen almost anything except for some parks. After the contest I will return to India to get to know it better”, said Miss Uganda, Sheba Kereere. For their part, Miss Thailand, Sirinya Burbridge and Miss Slovenia, Alenka Vindis, did not feel frustrated with the deployment of security because thanks to that they felt safe. “Besides, the staff has been very friendly with us, and we are very grateful that these security men are taking care of us”, added the Asian beauty. Miss Canada, Michelle Weswaldi, said: “I’ll see India later, I’m here to represent my country, so let me finish the contest first”.

                The news of the suicide caused great commotion among the candidates. “This is the land of Mahatma Gandhi. This is the land of peace. How can they take such an extreme measure?. Everyone has the right to protest but not in that way. I am very concerned”, exclaimed Miss Costa Rica, Natalia Carvajal. “I don’t know how things will change if they burn out”, Miss Australia Nicole Smith told reporters. “I do not buy the argument that such events affect Indian culture”. Miss Venezuela, Anna Cepinska, said “I hope everything goes well. This threat of burning alive makes me angry and sad”, Although she supported the pageant from the beginning, Miss India, Rani Jeyaraj, made it clear that she shared some of her compatriots’ reservations. She called the “scrutiny of women’s appearance humiliating and the restrictions on their comments unfair”. “I would not have entered the contest if I had known that they were not going to allow me to speak”, she said. Meanwhile, Peggy-Sue Khumalo, Miss South Africa, said she was shocked by the immolation of the young Indian, and prayed that the night of the Miss World contest, this situation would not be repeated. “Being Miss World or even Miss South Africa offers me a platform to become an ambassador for peace”, she said. The security regime was so strict that the only shopping trip the girls had was carried out with an escort of two buses full of policemen.

                By the way, the hotel where the Misses were staying had become a magnet for the wealthy in Bangalore. The coffee shop was filled with spectators eager to catch a glimpse of the beauty queens, whose days were filled with rehearsals for the gala extravaganza, for which the Sultan of Brunei would have bought 200 tickets, at just over $ 700 each. In those previous days, the contest had two temporary casualties among the contestants. Miss Italia was excused from rehearsals due to a strained elbow and Miss American Virgin Islands due to stomach problems. As long as the protests did not force the grand finale to diminish, it would feature 16 decorated elephants, hundreds of dancers, a candle-lit map of India and a specially composed song: “India is calling”. On the other hand, Eric Morley, creator and founder of Miss World, had mixed feelings. He said this year’s event had “attracted more publicity than ever before, but not as much publicity as would have been wanted”, he lamented.


                The Miss Photogenic competition, one of the Miss World 1996 sub-events, sponsored by Mastercard and presented by Glamor and Finesse, took place on Sunday, November 17, at the exclusive and picturesque Raheja Jade Gardens in Yelahanka, one hour on the way outside Bangalore, with a touch of finesse. It started around 6:00 pm and was attended by an impressive group of around of 1,500 “VIP” people including leading companies, several sponsors and Gold Card ticket holders. However, the 88 contestants arrived around 5.15pm and had to go through the ritual of getting the perfect makeup done to get ready for their best angles and most photogenic poses. The choice was very difficult as each contestant was a delight for the photographers and they couldn’t stop taking graphics. The Miss Photogenic vote was a unique aspect of the event. Each guest was given a ballot where they could enter the candidate of their choice. The press had a beautiful evening. In addition to their voting ballots, they were also given forms with the countries arranged alphabetically so that they could identify the contestants with the respective country and write down their comments alongside to avoid losing track of the girls once they reached the end of the show, when the votes would be collected. However, the final verdict was handed over to Coopers & Lybrand, an international consulting and auditing firm to avoid any bias, and the winner would be announced during the November 23 final.

Hong Kong and Holland

               The entire theme and atmosphere of the event was Hawaiian and was presented by Stephen Morley. The backdrop was plain and featured Mastercard as the event sponsor. This was offset by the sloping roof with reddish brown tiles and natural flowers hanging from the roof denoting the Hawaiian theme. The activity began with a performance by Jasmine Bharucha, who sang lively Western themes for more than half an hour. Soon after, the runway caught fire with the contestants walking gracefully down the runway to the beat of catchy music in their cocktail dresses. The Morleys’ son introduced each participant as they walked, posed, and did pirouettes. The walkway itself was remarkable in that it was white, shaped like a sunflower with radiant yellow petals. It emerged halfway to the pool creating a beautiful setting. Every detail was crafted to exacting standards; including the menu, a mix of Hawaiian, Goa, Keralite and Mangalorean cuisine in keeping with the atmosphere of the night.

               On Monday the 18th, there was another demonstration against the contest. More than 4,000 CPI activists and various feminist organizations from AP, TN, Kerala Karnataka and Maharashra held a 3-hour peaceful protest, called “Dharna” in India, in the crowded Anantharoa circle in Bangalore. They left in procession from the city’s train station and traffic stopped for more than 3 hours on all roads leading into the city. The police, assisted by 1.000 CRPF staff members of the Domestic Guard Battalion, found it difficult to prevent the protesters from moving to the Windsor Manor Hotel. In the riot, two activists were injured. Subashini Ali, a former CPIM deputy, addressed the activists saying that the country was being sold to multinationals. She ridiculed the government for promoting people like Amitabh Bachchan. The police, who feared the worst, were armed with jets of water, rubber pellets and tear gas canisters. The protesters were removed from the scene in 10 buses and later released.


                The Miss Personality event, the last major side event of the Miss World 1996 pageant and sponsored by Liberty Shoes, took place on the night of Tuesday, November 19, in picturesque Green Valley, a luxurious complex of green acres in Doddaballapur, about 40 miles from Bangalore. It was carried out in an informal style and with a different twist as an excuse to see the contestants again. The Green Valley had a distinctive style because it was built on three levels. The parking lot was at the bottom, with the pool on the second level and the cabanas on the last level. Great cocktails were served on the tennis courts and delicious continental food was served, in keeping with the atmosphere. Vinod Sivappa was the host of the event. The main objective of this parade was for the contestants from 88 countries to demonstrate their inherent qualities, combining the virtues of ‘beauty and brains’. Most of them were highly educated and pursued the disciplines of their studies in prestigious colleges and universities, as well as intellectual careers around the world. A unique feature of this event was that the contestants judged each other based on their demeanor, charisma, and a combination of physical and mental attributes.

                The girls arrived about an hour before the start of the show. They were dressed in beautiful cocktail dresses and their makeup was already immaculately done, except for the finishing touches, which were given after their arrival. Bangalore pop star Sowmini Sridharan sang several songs between sequences of contestants parading down the runway. Stephen Morley, from the Miss World Organization, animated the event with his inimitable style. The contestants gracefully paraded down the runway to the beat of the music and briefly described themselves to the audience. The catwalk emerged into the pool, creating a beautiful setting, and the backdrop had an archway displaying the Liberty Shoes logo, and through which the contestants paraded. Miss Tanzania wore her national attire while Miss Trinidad-Tobago made an appearance at Huridar and Miss India wore a Gaghra Choli. Each girl had to vote for the three contestants whose personality was the most outstanding during the contest. The event lasted around two hours. Despite the controversy, the 88 women had made public appearances smiling and waving as they competed to become Miss World 1996.


               Doubts about the Miss World celebration in Bangalore on November 23 were cleared on Tuesday, November 19, when the Bangalore High Court rejected an appeal to prevent the ABCL from going ahead with the event. The higher court stated that it could not issue such orders to the company, but it did establish certain conditions for conducting the contest. To ensure that there was no indecent exposure of the women, the high court, headed by Chief Justice RP Sethi, ordered that the director general of the state police and the secretary general of the court supervise the show. The court also ordered that no liquor would be sold during the event to the public, and that the Karnataka state government would not deploy the Army or the Border Security Force to protect the spectacle from protesters. Instead, the court said, event security would have to rely on the state police force just to maintain law and order, the cost of which was to be borne by ABCL. Incidentally, ABCL had planned to serve champagne during the event, but the superior court clause thwarted their plan. Karnataka Prime Minister JH Patel was in Delhi at the time but made it very clear that he would return to Bangalore to witness the contest. “I will not miss it in my life, I love beautiful things and beautiful women, it is only ugly minds that oppose the contest”, he said.


                On Wednesday, November 20, the delegates were officially unveiled to the Bangalore media, and the contestants posed for photographers in casual outfits from the gardens of the Windsor Manor Hotel. By the way, the African beauties protested and decided to accuse the press that covered the competition of racial discrimination, because they were practically ignored. “I did not expect this kind of discrimination in India. I am very disappointed”, said Shose Akaro from Tanzania. “The Indian press has completely ignored us (black Africans) since the day we arrived. They only pay attention to white contestants”, she added. For her part, Miss Zambia, Alice Banda, said: “We have not had problems with the other candidates, neither with the organization nor with the staff, only the press has discriminated against us”. “Just look at them, they are going after the white girls”, she said while pointing to a TV crew and reporters who were chasing several Europeans. On the other hand, Miss Israel, Talia Leventhal, who wanted to join the Armed Forces of her country, told the media that Miss Lebanon did not want to be photographed with her to avoid problems in her country. The two of them were the only participants from the Middle East. “I have no problem posing with Miss Lebanon, she is the one with the problem”, she added. When asked if she shared a room with Miss Lebanon, the Israeli laughed. “I don’t think the organizers would allow that”, she said. In the evening, the entrants had the “Miss World Family Party” at the hotel, where the most talented girls showed off their geniuses to liven up the evening, among which the Miss Canada tap dance stood out.

                In India, bets were also made and specialized houses gave as favorite to win the coveted Miss World crown to Miss Venezuela, Anna Cepinska. By the way, Osmel Sousa, President of the Miss Venezuela Organization, and the mother of the Venezuelan candidate, Mrs. Yagoda Cepinska, arrived in Bangalore a week before the finals, amid the protests. Miss Venezuela’s father, Roman Cepinski, had stayed in Caracas and her courageous mother, still with poor health, decided to travel to be with her on the peak days of the contest. Regarding security around the event, Ms Cepinska said she was very strict “but in no way uncomfortable, rather an attempt has been made to offer cordiality around the Misses”. For his part, Eric Morley said that he had never worked anywhere where security was so tight, but insisted that it did not hamper the event. “It doesn’t really concern us. All I would say is that it is preventing girls from freely shopping”. By the way, Mrs. Cepinska has regretted, to this day, not being able to attend a private meeting that Eric Morley had called with her days before the finals because she preferred to go meet Sai Baba. What did Morley want to talk to her? Unfortunately, we will never know …

Miss Venezuela and her mother

                On Thursday the 21st, the Dress Rehearsal was held at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium under strict security measures. The rehearsal began with a procession of elephants accompanied by Indian music, evoking an atmosphere of 14th century India, a time when dance and classical music were sponsored by Indian warrior kings. “Remember, what really counts is Saturday night,” said one choreographer, putting his arm around a dancer who was sobbing nervously and tense. The elephants marched in a large procession during the final rehearsal for the Miss World pageant. To avoid further problems, the organizers decided that the Misses did not come out in bathing suits during the Dress Rehearsal. Instead, they appeared dressed in Indian saris. At the end of the rehearsal, Miss Greece was crowned “for rehearsal purposes only”, followed by the representatives of New Zealand and Taiwan. Squads of riot police guarded everything, wary of the increasingly vehement protests surrounding the contest. Armed with tear gas, the police patrolled in front of the Chinnaswamy Stadium, where the final event was taking place on Saturday the 23rd.

Miss Greece

                Friday, November 22, was dedicated exclusively to the private evaluation of the competitors with the eleven personalities of the jury in one of the halls of the Windsor Manor Sheraton & Towers hotel. For more than five hours, each judge interviewed each of the participants, with interpreters if necessary, and then saw them in groups of 4 in bathing suits. What were the judges looking for in Miss World? As they watched the contestants, they took notes and ticked off their top ten picks for beauty, grace, charm, poise and personality.


               Psychiatrist Chaya Asarpota reported that the practice of self-immolation was an extreme form of protest and sacrifice that had its roots in Hindu religion and mythology. “It’s emotional blackmail and it gives the person a sense of self-glorification,” she explained. Asarpota stated that the practice of women performing self-immolation as an extreme form of protest may stem from the ancient tradition of Sati, under which Hindu widows were cremated on the funeral pyres of their husbands, but the British prohibited this practice. “In India, women value honor first. Life is secondary”, said MP Pramila Nesargi. “Self-immolation is the greatest sacrifice that women can make to save their dignity and this message will reach all corners of the world”.


                Corporate executives, mostly from Bangalore’s information and technology industry, threatened to take to the streets against Miss World, albeit for a different reason. Executives were outraged by the condition of the road Hosur Trunk Road, which connects the main town with electronic parks, and have asked to Chief Minister of the state, J.H. Patel, to do something about it urgently. Executives recently highlighted the pathetic state of the road by stopping their vehicles and causing a traffic jam for a couple of hours.  


                The right-wing party “Bharatiya Janata” (BJP) called a general strike to paralyze public transport in Bangalore for Saturday that could prevent contestants from reaching the cricket stadium where the finals would be held on November 23, while leader of “Mahila Jagran” also said that she would stick to her previous” self-immolation “plan on” D-Day”, (the one from the Miss World finals). Kinay Narayana Shashikala, a stocky woman in her early 30s, was not exactly a candidate for beauty queen but she promised to “steal the show” and could be on more lips than the winner of Saturday’s Miss World contest if she followed through on her threat of leading a multiple suicide protest against the contest. Ms. Shashikala, a law student who ran the “Mahila Jagran Samiti” (Forum for Awakening Women), was fighting against the exploitation of women in India. She feared that events like Miss World would undermine Indian culture. Ms. Shashikala and her supporters said they would mingle with the waiting crowd of 20,000 people and set their saris on fire after ingesting cyanide. “Whatever the security level, we will sneak in. We don’t need gasoline to get soaked, our nylon saris are flammable”, she said. Shashikala added that she would withdraw her threat if a strike called by a local leader of the Indian nationalist party “Bharatiya Janata” succeeded in stopping the show. Opponents, who criticized the contest for wasting resources in a mostly poor country, appealed to spectators to boycott the event and threatened to block roads to the stadium. On the other hand, protesters tried to set fire to two mini-buses hired for the contest but were unsuccessful after being discovered and the flames were put out in time.

                On the other hand, an Indian woman, housewife, reiterated her threat to burn to death in protest against the holding of Miss World in her country. “My protests will be peaceful. Burning me,” said the woman. “Why should they want to burn?” asked Avinash Nagraj, a 20-year-old student in Bangalore. “They say it only to attract the media”. But the most latent danger was posed by an unknown group that had previously led four small bombings at the Miss World pageant, and which threatened to attack again during the final event, police said. A group calling itself the “Indian Tigers” claimed responsibility for four bomb attacks in the past two weeks that had caused little damage. The bombs exploded at sites in some way connected to the pageant, including a bus that was to transport Miss World contestants, the attack on the cricket stadium and a car parked outside a store that revealed photos for the pageant. The city’s police chief, Sharat Chandra Burma, said nothing was known about the group, “but the threat is real and we are doing everything we can to catch them”.

                 In a last-minute desperate attempt, Amitabh Bachchan left his office to offer to sit opposite the protesters at a negotiating table. “I am open to talks with protesters”, Bachchan told a crowded press conference. And as it was too late, the BJP and “Mahila Jagran” had refused to take the call, announcing that there would be no change in their protest plans. “The last-minute talks are a trick to project himself as reasonable and democratic”, said Raghunandan, who uses a single name, the spokesman of the “Federation of opposition to the Miss World Contest”. The head of “Mahila Jagran”, Ms. Shashikala, said she was determined to carry out her threat of self-immolation. Shashikala and BJP lawmaker Ms. Pramila Nesargi said they had sent a letter to Bachchan for discussions on November 5, but he told them he was “busy” with other commitments. Julia Morley also invited Shashikala to talk and meet with her and the 88 contestants but the feminist leader refused and said she would not speak to anyone until the event was canceled. For his part, Bachchan said that the threat of self-immolation was “very annoying” and asked the leader of “Mahila Jagran” not to carry it out. At the same time, he argued that there was never any protest against the Miss India pageants, and he wanted to know why the Miss World pageant was subjected to such protests. In a related development, the ABCL had appealed to the Supreme Court against all restrictions imposed by the Bangalore High Court on the performance of Miss World. With just 48 hours before the show, the supreme court would decide on the issue on Friday, November 22. The “Asian Age” newspaper asked Shashikala why she was not dealing with prostitution in her state instead of being behind a beauty pageant and she replied that her organization of only 500 members would not cope with that.

                On Friday 22, opponents of the event paraded a 10-foot-tall nude drawing of contest organizer Amitabh Bachchan through the city. “People who support naked women should know how they feel when they are naked,” said Vatal Nagraj, who led the procession. Other protesters walked dressed as demons from Indian epics. The All India League for Revolutionary Culture voiced its protest by organizing “People’s Cultural Day” on November 22. Nearby schools and universities were closed on Friday and Saturday as a precaution and groups of more than 4 people were prohibited. Bangalore was virtually cut off by 20,000 police, federal commandos and paramilitary forces to protect the 88 contestants. Security was especially tight around the M. Chinnaswamy stadium with 20,000 sold seats where the final was taking place. Everyone entering the stadium would be searched three times after going through metal detectors. Sniffer dogs and bomb squads would periodically search the interior of the stadium. The exterior of it would be guarded by some 2,000 armed policemen equipped with fire extinguishers to confront the protesters who had threatened to catch fire. Police also arrested 35 members of a right-wing group, concerned that they might try to disrupt the event. Other possible critics were under surveillance on Friday, including a woman who threatened to kill herself, Bangalore Police Chief Sarat Chandra Burman said. And as if this were not enough, threats were received from a dissident cell of the “People’s War Group” that had killed 15 policemen in the neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh.


               ABCL and everyone associated with the Miss World pageant in Bangalore breathed a sigh of relief on Friday when the Supreme Court gave final approval to holding the pageant with few restrictions. The Supreme Court removed the last hurdles, while accepting the organizers’ commitment that “the liquor would be served only as a welcome toast at the beginning and end of the contest”. On the same subject, ABCL said in its affidavit that liquor would be served in selected venues and only to the guests, organizers and dignitaries seated in those venues. No liquor would be served to the general audience or the participants. Furthermore, the Karnataka High Court ordered an investigation into the use of air force facilities for Miss World 1996 events. It stated that local commanders had no right to rent military premises for the beauty pageant. The organizers had to hastily change the site of the Coronation Ball, which was scheduled to take place at the Bangalore Air Force Main Square. The Court really feared that it appeared that the state was sponsoring the pageant.


                And it dawned on Saturday, November 23, and the drama began with 10,000 soldiers who transformed Bangalore into a virtual police state to prevent protesters, including a suicide squad of women, from disrupting the final of Miss World 1996. Bangalore had become a war zone. Riot police fired rubber bullets, detonated tear gas projectiles and swung bamboo poles to disperse hundreds of people protesting the Miss World pageant and injuring more than 50 people. Dozens of groups, from different political parties and communist extremists, demonstrated against the beauty contest, which they said was degrading to women. Another excuse they made was that the event had to be canceled due to the national disaster caused by the cyclone on the east coast of the country. Police arrested 1,650 people in the repression hours before the start of the competition, protesters who shouted “Go home, Miss World” had filled the city. Police were looking for female activists who announced that they would set themselves on fire to protest the contest. Some waved placards and banners saying, “What is a beauty contest? Commercialization of women for more profits”. The contest’s promoters said the pageant would boost tourism and investment and demonstrate that India could stage an event of this magnitude, while opponents said the beauty pageants were alien to India’s conservative culture and overlooked the reality of the country, its oppression of women and extreme poverty. Buses and taxis continued to operate in Bangalore despite a protest group call for a general strike.

                In two separate incidents, just four miles from the stadium, protesters threw stones at state transport buses. A bus driver and two passengers were injured by shards of glass when the vehicle’s windshield shattered. The protesters also held an alternative contest that crowned “Miss Poverty” and “Miss Illiteracy”. “We will block all vehicles throughout the city,” said BJP MP Anand Kumar, who organized the strike. “We are going to besiege the stadium and ask the supposed spectators not to go”, he said. Ms. Shashika and the “Indian Tigers” claimed to have gathered 400 commands to sabotage the event. Their protest overshadowed the arguments of the left and women’s organizations. It should be noted that since India was announced as the host of the Miss World 1996 contest at the end of August, in the country there have been some 130 demonstrations against the event led by feminists and radical communist groups. Although the supreme court lifted some legal restrictions on the pageant on Friday, the news came too late for Amitabh Bachchan. He said he felt numb after weeks of protests, including the burning of a nude effigy of him earlier that day. “All this controversy, I don’t understand it”, he said. “We are not trying anything new. Where were they 30 years ago when we started having beauty pageants?” Ticket sales had been so slow that organizers turned 25 vans into mobile ticket booths on Thursday. With the cheapest seats at 2,000 rupees ($ 56) and the most expensive, more than 10 times that price, the event was only for the wealthiest, as the middle class and the majority of the population of Bangalore could not afford those prices.

                A few hours before the grand finale, different people were preparing in different ways for the event. For example, Miss India, 22-year-old Rani Jeyaraj, will remember that date for two reasons. The professional model who wanted to become a television journalist was celebrating her birthday that day. Europcar, the official land carrier of the contest, had brought hundreds of good wishes from all over the country and special messages for her birthday. On the other hand, journalists that covered the event had to pass through a mock security and were banned the use of flashes inside the stadium. Entrance was only through one door and they were asked not to move during the event. Opportunities to photograph the new Miss World 1996 would be provided at the end of the show. In addition, it was forbidden to enter with matches or lighters. By the way, photographs of Kinay Narayana Shashikala, the leader of “Mahila Jagran”, the feminist organization to which she had declared the formation of a suicide squad, were placed on the walls of the stadium so that the public could identify her if she managed to evade the police controls.



                A drizzle that persisted all day ceased just before the start of the ceremony with a traditional Indian sound of shells that reverberated in the open-air stadium. At 9:20 p.m. on Saturday, November 23, a musical preamble began with Indian talents, including demonstrations of Kalaripayattu martial arts from Kerala and Kathakali dances, for the enjoyment of the 15 thousand people who filled the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium (the largest audience in the history of the contest up to that point), which would only be broadcast on local TV before beginning the worldwide broadcast at 10 p.m. But large sections of the stadium, which had a maximum capacity of 50,000 seats, were left empty, apparently due to fear of violence and high ticket costs. Due to protests and road closures, many people with tickets were unable to reach the stadium, which closed its doors at the time of the television program. In the pre-show also took part the actress Sobhana, who gave a Bharatnatyam recital, the actress and ex-Miss India 1984 Juhi Chawla was part of the Bhangra group and Sonali Bendre starred in the “Gujarati Dandiya”. Manipuri, Kodava and Goan dances were also part of the extravaganza. At 10 pm, as scheduled, the finals of Miss World 1996 began, produced by Mark West and directed by Alasdair MacMillan, with satellite transmission thanks to Upton International to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Estonia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Israel, Jamaica, Korea, Latvia, Lebanon, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, United Kingdom, Venezuela, countries of Central Europe and Scandinavia and, of course, India. Sky One broadcast it delayed at 10 p.m. in Great Britain and, in Venezuela, it was seen through the Venevision signal at 1 p.m., with only 30 minutes of delay.

                The show began showing the outgoing Miss World, Venezuela’s Jacqueline Aguilera, beautifully dressed in an Indian costume, giving English welcome words with images of the most iconic sites in India. The opening number began with the procession of elephants and dancers dressed as legendary warriors and women with huge umbrellas on the stage, as well as men pretending to ride on real horses. The stage, which was painted in shades of sandstone and designed by Sabu Cyril, cost approximately $ 200,000 and was wonderfully ornamented, reminiscent of the famous 14th-century ruin of Hampi, the seat of the former Kingdom of Vijaynagar. The number featured a group of dancers representing the mystical Mysore lancers, a group of martial arts and dancers of Kathakali and Kuchipudi dances, a kind of classical Indian dance. The theme of the opening was a tribute to the great rivers of India, from the north, east, west and south, which form the life line that unites the country. The hosts of the night were immediately called to the stage, the American Richard Steinmetz, who was presenting the pageant for the third consecutive year, and the young Indo-Canadian actress Ruby Bhatia-Bali, who had been Miss India Canada 1993 and a candidate for Femina Miss India 1994 and who at that time was married to singer Nitin Bali. After the welcoming words, they announced the presentation of the 88 candidates, wearing their spectacular costumes in videos filmed in New Delhi, Bangalore and the Seychelles and where each of them made their self-introduction that was recorded separately in previous days.

               Filmed in New Delhi, the first group of candidates was introduced, made up of the representatives of Costa Rica, Ireland, Macau, Panama, Switzerland and Tahiti. They were presented from the facilities of the Maurya Sheraton hotel. The girls of Argentina, American Virgin Islands, Malaysia and Zimbabwe from the majestic symbol of the capital called “India Gate”. The candidates from Holland and Tanzania presented themselves from the Parliament House, while the young women from Bulgaria, Estonia, Ecuador, Norway, Seychelles and Uganda did so from one of the most exclusive residences in Delhi. The second group of contestants was presented from Bangalore, with the Misses from Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Gibraltar, Lebanon and Peru from the Windsor Manur Sheraton & Towers hotel. And at the Maharaja Palace in Bangalore, the girls from the Dominican Republic, Swaziland and Yugoslavia.

                From Mahe Island in the Seychelles, the third group was presented, made up of the candidates from Belgium, Bonaire, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Hong Kong, Italy, Israel, Jamaica, Japan and Kenya, who filmed from the now defunct Berjaya Mahe Beach hotel, while the young women from the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico and Russia, did from the now dismantled Equator hotel. For their part, the participants from Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine presented themselves from the Seychelles Yacht Club and the entrants from Spain, Sweden and Taiwan from the Mahe Crab Village. From one of the best beaches on the island of Mahe, the beauties of Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guam and Guatemala posed for the viewers. From the beach of Port Launay paraded the Misses of Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia and South Africa. In the Botanical Garden of Mahe there were Miss Mexico, Miss New Zealand and Miss Nigeria, and finally, from the Sauzier waterfalls in Port Glaud, the representatives of Hungary and India. The fourth group appeared from Praslin Island (Seychelles), with Miss Trinidad & Tobago, Miss United States and Miss Venezuela from Grand ‘Anse, while Miss Uruguay and Miss Zambia did so from the Coco de Mer Forest. From the Paradise Beach hotel, the entrants from Macedonia, Paraguay, Singapore and the United Kingdom. And the fifth and last group was seen from La Digue Island (Seychelles), with competitors from Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Canada, Croatia, Curaçao, Cyprus and Romania. It is worth mentioning that while the viewers watched the videos filmed outdoors, the participants appeared on stage in front of the audience. For the closing of this segment of the show, a female folk group from India gave a taste of the legendary and mystical culture of that country.

                The evening’s hosts then called Parmeshwar Godrej to the stage to announce the winner of the BEST SPECTACULAR COSTUME award, courtesy of Godrej. This award went to Miss BRAZIL (Anuska Prado), a beautiful white silk costume in honor of the Carnival of that country, designed by Alexandre Dutra. The judges for this segment were six famous designers and fashion personalities from India, Ritu Kumar, Meher Castelino (Miss India 1964), Hemant Trivedi, Sathya Saran, Pallavi Jaikishan and Prasad Bidapa. After the first commercial break, the hosts introduced some special guests such as Indian actor Sunil Shetty and Mr. Nakul Anand, the Vice-President of WelcomGroup, official hosting sponsor of Miss World 1996.

                Then, internationally renowned dancer Mallika Sarabhai wowed audiences with a powerful performance of a dance ballet composed of herself and her group of dancers, demonstrating the power of women and the role they have to play in the world of today, full of grace and with powerful and vibrant music. This dance was the preamble to the presentation of the judges, but not before Bhatia applied the traditional kumkum to Richard Steinmetz, a Hindu ritual that consists of placing a point on the forehead of a person, which is made up of materials such as charcoal or sandalwood, as a symbol of peace, which fills everyone who possesses it with well-being. The eleven personalities of this year’s jury were the following:

01.- Andre Sekulic – Vice President and Director of Mastercard for Asia.

02.- Linda Pettursdóttir – Miss World 1988 from Iceland.

03.- Vijay Mallya – Wealthy Businessman from India.

04.- Marlene Cardin – TV Entrepreneur, President and Founder of Video Fashion.

05.- Aamir Khan – Famous actor from India.

06.- Aishwarya Rai – Miss World 1994 from India.

07.- Sanath Jayasurya – Famous cricketer from Sri Lanka.

08.- Ninibeth (Nina) Leal – Miss World 1991 from Venezuela.

09.- Tom Nuyens – Mr. World 1996 from Belgium.

10.- Parmeshwar Godrej – Philanthropist and socialite from India, wife of the President of the Godrej Group.

11.- Eric Morley – Owner and Founder of Miss World and Chairman of the Judges without the right to vote.

                Again, the firm Coopers & Lybrand was in charge of auditing the votes. Then, they presented a video with the awards that the new world sovereign would receive. While this was happening, the candidates were putting on their bathing suits in dressing rooms. Mysteriously, that of Miss Venezuela, white and transparent, disappeared and could not be found anywhere. After much searching, they found it lying and dirty in a corner. Some of her fellow contestants made the wrong move! The Venezuelan managed to change in time for the next presentation. After the second commercial break, the animators presented the music video that 88 candidates recorded in the Seychelles and in India, wearing bathing suits some and saris others, called “India is Calling” written by Ray Monk choreographed by Ken Warwick. The closing of the musical number was made by the candidates on stage with their swimsuits, but with sarongs covering their bodies to avoid protests.

There’s a land
Far away
Come with me and I’ll take you there
Heavenly graces, mystical too
India is calling, waiting for you
For dancing in the sun
The journey has just begun  

Exotic kind of dinner
You all see
Enchanting parlours that can set you free
Realising on your fantasy
Won’t you come, won’t you come, won’t you come
Waiting for you  

Beautiful places, mystical too,
Heaven is calling
Waiting for you
A pungent of spices, filling the air
Heaven is calling
You to go there
So leave your cares and fly.  

Beautiful places, mystical too,
India is calling
Waiting for you
A pungent of spices, filling the air
India is calling
You to go there
For dancing in the sun
The journey has just begun.
Miss Venezuela, Anna Cepinska, chosen as Miss Photogenic

                Then it was time to announce the first winner of the night, secretly chosen on Sunday, November 17th by the photographers who covered the event sponsored by Mastercard, but not before introducing the Vice-President of that firm, Mr. Sunny Sanand. The winner of the MISS PHOTOGENIC award was Miss VENEZUELA (Anna Cepinska). Then, Mr. Shri PD Gupta from Calzados Liberty was thanked for sponsoring the next award, that of MISS PERSONALITY, selected by the same candidates on Tuesday, November 19 and who turned out to be Miss PHILIPPINES (Daisy Reyes). The 10 semifinalists of Miss World 1996 were immediately announced. They were: Miss COLOMBIA, Miss BELGIUM, Miss DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, Miss VENEZUELA, Miss SOUTH AFRICA, Miss INDIA, Miss MEXICO, Miss ARUBA, Miss GREECE and Miss BRAZIL. Six of the 10 semifinalists were from the American continent, five of them from Latin America!. The semifinalists then paraded individually in their swimsuits, created especially for them by designers from their countries. As the young women paraded, Ruby Bhatia discussed their most important facts. They all came out very discreet with their sarongs on, except Miss Venezuela, who took off her cape so that the judges could appreciate her statuesque figure. After posing together, there was a new commercial interlude. After this parade, Miss Brazil’s swimsuit disappeared from the dressing room and was never found again!

01Miss COLOMBIACarolina Arango Corrales1 9Classical ballet, sports, readingPereira
02Miss BELGIUMLaurence borremans18Swimming, Aerobics, PartyingWaver
03Miss DOMINICAN REP.Idelsa Nunez Torres21Belly dance, sing and paintSanto Domingo
04Miss VENEZUELAAnna Cepinska Miszczak18Horseback riding, swimming, playing the piano, reading, and dancingCaracas
05Miss SOUTH AFRICANonhlanhla Peggy-Sue Khumalo21Netball, reading, musicNewcastle
06Miss INDIARani Joan Jeyaraj22Reading, writing, poetryBangalore
07Miss MEXICOYéssica Salazar González21Acting, sports, readingLa Barca, Jalisco
08Miss ARUBAAfranina Fiona Henriquez21Dance and sing. Speak 4 languagesSan Nicolaas
09Miss GREECEEirini Skliva18Skiing, reading and poetryAthens
10Miss BRAZILAnuska Valéria Prado21Flamenco dancingGovernador Valadares, MG

                Upon their return, Steinmetz and Bhatia presented a classical music number with the dancers Brinda and Prassana, who waltzed alongside the candidates who did not make the semifinalists, wearing their evening gowns, while presenting some images of the most emblematic tourist places of the country and of their society. This number was the starter for the parade in evening dress of the 10 semifinalists, with creations by designers from their countries of origin, with comments from the host Richard Steinmetz regarding the studies and professions of each of the young women. Each semi-finalist was accompanied by a male model, a finalist in a local modeling competition. After posing together, the comperes announced the fourth block of commercials.

                After the break, Ruby Bhatia and Richard Steinmetz dedicated the space to “Beauty with a Purpose” explaining that the proceeds from this year’s pageant went to the Karnataka Spastic Society and the Variety Club International. In recent years, the Miss World organization had raised funds for the children of South Africa and for the Variety Club International life program dedicated to helping children with congenital heart problems in Croatia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Nicaragua, Peru and Ukraine. It also cooperated with the situation of children with cleft lip in Colombia and helped in the construction of a school in Bosnia. Then the Indian singer Alisha Chinai arrived on stage with her song “Made in India” along with dozens of dancers wearing national costumes from various regions of the country. At the end, the comperes proceeded to announce the names of the 5 finalists: The lucky ones were Miss VENEZUELA, Miss BRAZIL, Miss INDIA, Miss GREECE and MISS COLOMBIA. Three South Americans continued in the fight for the crown !!.

               For the last round, each finalist chose from a small trunk a card with a question previously asked by the judges. Miss Venezuela was the one of the judge Andre Sekulic: What is the biggest problem young people face today? She replied in perfect English that the biggest problem of today’s youth were the drugs because drugs were completely against the principle of life, damaged the brain and body, and so she’d like to help people with problems of drug addiction since the greatest gift that God gave to the human being was life and therefore we had to preserve it and not waste it. Miss Brazil chose Aishwarya Rai’s question: Do you think a woman can have a career and a family? She responded with the help of an interpreter that women today had fought hard to conquer their space and with each passing day they conquered it a little more and that she believed that women could do both.

                Miss India got that of her countryman Aamir Khan: Who has been the greatest influence in your life? She replied that her mother because she has taught her the power of love and believing in herself and that believing in herself was the first step for being the best. Marlene Cardin’s question for Miss Greece was the following: How do you see the world of women today?. She replied that the world of women today was not one, since they could be a wife, mother and professional and that they could perfectly perform all three. “And I’m sure you will agree with me that they can do very well in all three” she said in her own words. And finally, Miss Colombia selected Mister World Tom Nuyens: What do you think is the best lesson a father can teach a son?. She replied in Spanish that “the most valuable teaching was love, because many qualities are derived from love, such as kindness, discipline, respect and above all love for your fellows”. While the judges placed the final ranking, it was time for a new commercial break.

                Upon return, Ruby Bhatia called on stage the musical sensation of that country, Prabhu Deva, known as the Michael Jackson of India, with the song “Andha Arabi Kadaloram” (Hamma Hamma). After this, Richard Steinmetz, who had removed his jacket due to the heat, presented the farewell video of the outgoing Miss World, the Venezuelan Jacqueline Aguilera who told in English the highlights of her year of reign. Immediately, she reached the stage, descending the stairs with an entourage of Indian men and women in traditional costumes accompanying her and the ritual of flowers at their feet, which was similar to what the red carpet meant in the West. Radiant, in a tight-fitting golden dress, the most beautiful Jacqueline said her farewell. Four men carried on their shoulders the throne on which Jacqueline sat awaiting the results. After the sixth and final commercial block, the comperes called on to the stage Julia Morley, dressed in a shalwar ka-meez (long robe and pants) and Eric Morley (with his kumkum on his forehead). Both arrived on stage with two escorts “just in case.” Eric then proceeded to announce the results, as usual, in reverse order: SECOND RUNNER-UP was Miss BRAZIL (Anuska Prado) and FIRST RUNNER-UP, Miss COLOMBIA (Carolina Arango). Both received tiaras from Julia Morley. Her husband Eric explained that only one point separated the first from the second runner-up.

               And MISS WORLD 1996 was… Miss GREECE !!. Eirini Skliva, an 18-year-old journalism student and model, 5 feet 9 inches tall, whose hobbies were reading, poetry and skiing, with brown hair and hazel eyes, dressed in a white gown embroidered with gold applications and a stylish Bell skirt, became the first Greek in history to be crowned Miss World. As a curious note, she was also chosen as such during the Dress Rehearsal. Eirini, visibly moved, raised her hands to her face in surprise at being proclaimed the winner at the end of the final peaceful ceremony. Seconds later, she received the Miss World sash from Julia Morley and, as she sat on the throne, she was crowned by Jacqueline Aguilera. She then proceeded to take her triumphal walk to special music created by the Indian artist Illayaraja. Then, Eirini returned to her throne as a procession of elephants announced the end of the event. “Skliva was chosen based on her composure, poise and intelligence”, said Parmeshwar Godrej, one of the judges, adding that “there is something about her that grabs you”. By the way, it was rumored that the favorite of the Miss World Organization had been Miss Aruba.

                And so concluded the two-hour global broadcast of the forty-sixth edition of Miss World, without any incident to regret but with the absence of almost all the great personalities who had been invited, such as Lady Di, tennis player André Agassi, actress Pamela Anderson and the Sultan of Brunei. Fortunately, the security of the venue prevented the protesters from achieving their mission of interrupting the event and self-immolating in protest. An estimated 2 billion people in 115 countries saw the event live and on tape. Hundreds of ticket holders were unable to enter the stadium even an hour after the more than two-hour show started due to strict security. Outside the stadium, while the strike call given by the BJP failed, the police forces ensured that there were no adverse incidents of any kind. However, not everything was rosy. Several policemen were hospitalized with burning eyes after protesters threw chili powder at them, said a police officer, who did not elaborate. Previously, some 1,000 protesters had blocked traffic around the stadium, stoning passing vehicles and injuring many of its passengers. But the police managed to disperse them using rubber bullets, bamboo poles and tear gas. About 300 protesters were arrested, including the legislator who headed one of the protests, Pramila Nesargi. The police reported that the detainees would be released on Sunday after the participants flew back to New Delhi. Once the event was completed and in the midst of strict security measures, everybody went to the Coronation Ball, which was held at the Windsor Manur Sheraton & Towers hotel.


                This year, for the first time, sashes were given to the finalists and the Continental Queens of Beauty, in addition to their respective trophies, courtesy of the Godrej firm. They were:

AFRICAMiss SOUTH AFRICANonhlanhla Peggy-Sue Khumalo
AMERICASMiss COLOMBIACarolina Arango Corrales
ASIA & OCEANIAMiss INDIARani Joan Jeyaraj
CARIBBEAN ISLANDSMiss ARUBAAfranina Fiona Henriquez
EUROPEMiss GREECEEirini Skliva

                At the Coronation Ball it was announced that the Third runner-up had been Miss India and the Fourth, Miss Venezuela. At the same ceremony, two other official awards of the contest were announced: The BEST LOOK IN SWIMSUIT which went to Miss MEXICO (Yéssica Salazar) and the BEST EVENING GOWN, which went to the local representative, Miss INDIA (Rani Joan Jeyaraj). Miss India, Miss Aruba and Miss South Africa, for being Continental Beauty Queens, received a prize of one thousand pounds sterling each. Miss Venezuela also received a thousand pounds sterling for being a finalist and Miss Photogenic, as well as Miss Brazil for being the Second runner-up. Meanwhile Miss Colombia got a check for £ 2,000 and the semi-finalists £ 500 each. This was the best rank for Colombia and Brazil since 1983 when Rocío Luna and Cátia Pedrosa also reached the same position. For her part, the brand new Miss World took home the following awards:

                * A 15-day stay at any of the WelcomGroup hotels, valid for two years.

                * Air India gave her first class tickets during her year of reign.

                * Tickets for domestic flights in India by Sahara Airlines.

                * The REVA firm gave her a mini electric car, made in Bangalore.

                * A watch with diamonds from Omega.

                * One week of car rental in any of the 134 countries where Europcar operated.

                * Beautiful hand-woven rugs from Zeba Collections.

                * First class tickets and stay for three nights in Seychelles courtesy of Air Seychelles.

                * And by the Miss World Organization, a prize of 84 thousand dollars (£ 50.000).


                Just hours before the Miss World final was held at the Bangalore cricket stadium, the police commander cleared the venue, locked the doors, and refused to let the show continue until the organizers paid their security bills fees, as they had only paid 15% of the total so far, an Indian news agency reported shortly thereafter. The organizers handed out a cashier’s check and that was how the show could continue.


                Already in her room, the 4003 of the Windsor Manur Sheraton hotel in Bangalore, Miss Colombia, Carolina Arango, was calmer, much more relaxed and aware that the name of Colombia had once again sounded loud in a beauty contest. Carolina was happy, very happy, it is undeniable. However, happiness tied her to her simplicity, evident in every word that she let navigate through the telephone line in an interview for the Colombian press. After what has been achieved in Miss World, ¿what goes through the mind of Carolina Arango?. “Many things that get run over by emotion, although now I am much calmer. Let’s say that the people who were around me during my preparation come to my mind, my family, my country. There are so many things that all I can say is that I am very happy with this second place”. How did you work on Miss World to get to second place? “It was a very continuous and intensive daily work. Since I arrived in Bangalore I realized that it was very difficult to stand out among 88 queens. In fact, this year Miss World managed to gather the largest number of participants in the history of the beauty event”. “So I thought that I would not even be among the ten semifinalists. I did not imagine that I would go that far. It is a personal triumph, of the Miss World Colombia organization and of all Colombians. I feel satisfied with what I achieved and I believe that Miss Greece was the best”, she added.

                She said that the greatest ties of friendship were with Miss Chile, her roommate and with the representatives of Argentina, Bonaire and Aruba. ¿How were you prepared in Colombia for the international event?. “I was in Medellín for several weeks, where Frank Solano and Jaime Arango, who were in charge of polishing me both on the catwalk, as well as in glamour, etiquette and makeup. The entire preparation process was with Miss Aruba, who made the Top 10”. Regarding the issue of the protests and the death of a young man by immolation, Carolina said “I was very distressed the first days. However, we were always surrounded by a lot of security. We learned of the threats and that a person had been self-immolated by the hotel employees who told us”.


                The first thing Eirini did after being crowned was to film, in the early hours of the morning, a commercial for Godrej’s Cinthol soap, together with the Indian actor Akshay Kumar and Parmeshwar Godrej. The next morning, Eirini Skliva greeted the press at the Windsor Manur Hotel in Bangalore wearing a sari that a hotel employee got for her and telling how excited she was to have become the new World Queen of Beauty. The brand new Miss World still couldn’t believe her triumph, she even thought it was just one more rehearsal!! So there she was, dressed in a deep purple silk sari with a bright pink trim, the pleats inexpertly bunched in the center of her stomach, and the hem hooked at the back. There, she revealed how she planned to continue during the next 12 months of reign. She said she didn’t know what she would do with her prize money but said she wanted to enjoy a lot of travel. They asked her, what did it mean to be a beauty queen of the nineties? And she answered: “I’m going to work for Greece and I will do the best I can”. Happily, she would have Julia and Eric Morley, the organizers of the contest, by her side to help her withstand the long absences of her house. “We are a family, we are a great world family”, said Ms. Morley, helping Miss World when her limited English or intelligent responses left her silent. “Even hotel staff here has become part of the family, they helped us and went to buy a sari”. Mrs. Morley could be forgiven a little resentment when things were not so well, as when a generator exploded and the lights went out.             

                In spite of all the vicissitudes, Julia Morley said she would return to Bangalore. “We will return to Bangalore in the very near future, I will return with a doctor who is going to see the Bangalore Hospital where we hope to work with a team of surgeons around the world who make heart surgery for Bangalore children who, otherwise, could not have enjoyed it”. She also said that she would return with the winner to perform a fashion show to collect funds for charitable causes. As for the threats of immolation, Morley said quickly that Eirini did not want to talk about that. Regarding the protesters, Julia said: “I want to know them and I want to sit down talking to them”, but that did not happen. Regarding the site of the 1997 contest, Julia Morley said that they would make a decision in January, but that Bangalore was not completely discarded, because a contract had not yet been signed with the Seychelles Islands.

                 That same night, they all traveled to New Delhi, where on Monday, November 25, Eirini held another press conference, while in Bangalore, the police released thousands of detained protesters. From New Delhi, Eirini and the Morleys flew to Mumbai where they took a tour of the city on November 28, before traveling to London, the official site of the contest. Her first international public appearance was at the Motor Show in Essen (Germany) on December 5, where she met world Formula 1 champion, Damon Hill. In the middle of that month Eirini returned to her country. Her reception in the Greek capital was quite discreet, but she was invited by the President of her country, Konstantinos Stephanopoulos, to his residence, who congratulated her on her triumph. The new Miss World spent Christmas parties with her family in Athens as was customary. During her reign, she was present at the Variety Club International Telethon that took place at the beginning of March in Des Moines, Iowa (USA). Eirini lived at the Morleys’ home for a time, but her mother wanted to visit her and that made the Morleys uncomfortable, allowing her only a two-day overnight stay. In view of that, Eirini decided to return to Greece to continue her modeling career. There is not much information on international travel of Miss World 1996. She handed over her crown in Seychelles in November 1997.


                Christmas brought little joy to the children of the Karnataka Spastic Society. The long awaited and highly publicized generosity promised by Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited with the proceeds of the Miss World pageant was still expected more than a month after the event, according to a special front page report in “The Times of India” on December 27, 1996. The newspaper quoted Karnataka state government social welfare secretary Adhip Chaudhuri as saying: “A lot of people are getting nervous about whether the money will come. I’m sure it will”. Although their reputation is not very good , this is a public commitment that ABCL cannot escape. “He also said that they would wait another week for the money to arrive, after which they would be forced to tell the world. For the Karnataka Spastic Society, the delay in receiving the payment meant the stagnation of civil works in its diagnostic wing. Chaudhuri said he had received a letter from Amitabh Bachchan himself on December 15 by saying that an independent audit was being carried out. “But for us, the time factor is critical. The building is being built and we need the money now”, he added. On their part, ABCL reported that the costs in the assembly of the show and in the safety of it had surpassed the figure of 5 million dollars, a financial fiasco!.


               The Miss World had not generated the dividends he expected and ABCL had to face demands of people who worked for the contest and those who had not been paid. For early 1999, the situation in ABCL was very bad. The confidence of the public had fallen into a minced and the salaries were not being paid since the money was stuck in the production and distribution of films. Amitabh Bachchan was being pushed into a corner by creditors and accumulating losses of more than 70.82 million rupees against a net worth of 60.52 million rupees. ABCL approached the Board of Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFF) in March 1999. While the Measure Isolated to the company of the creditors, the “Bollywood badshah”, as guarantor of the loans taken by the company, now faced the danger of losing Pratiksha, his luxurious house on Juhu. But I could lose it when the case presented by Canara Bank against ABCL resolved in the Court of Justice A.P. Shah, High Court of Bombay. The Bank led a consortium that granted credit facilities for a sum of 22 million rupees to the ABCL in 1996 when it expanded its business and the figures did not quench. The decision of the ABCL to enter the BIFF was more than a simple admission by the bankruptcy company. But the strategy seems to have had a Boomerang effect in Bachchan. Canara Bank had decided to take the possession of Pratiksha, a residence of Bachchan valued at RS 12 million in the market, since Bachchan had personally guaranteed the loan. For Bachchan, the real problem was the threat of losing his house, but he did not know his strategy to try to retain it either. He was surprised to see that the same people who had treated him with such respect and amazement a few months ago began to be rude and discourteous.

Miss Mundo 1996

                In June 2000, he became the first living Asian to have a wax statue in his honor at London’s Madame Tussauds. However, the same year brought him a tsunami of financial and emotional problems. When the whole world was busy celebrating the new century, Amitabh Bachchan was cursing his disastrous fortune. He had no movies, no money, no company, and a million legal cases against him. The tax authorities had even posted an expropriation notice on his home. In one of his interviews, he admitted that he had very little knowledge of business and financial management. In a television interview, when asked if he regretted that the film industry did not come to his rescue during his difficult times, he frankly replied that it was his decision and that he did not expect anyone to take responsibility. He added that he had no regrets and did not hold anyone accountable. The Indian Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction declared Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited a “sick” company with a debt of $ 14,000,000. His friends advised him to close the losing company and move on, but Bachchan decided to pay off all his debts despite huge losses, resuming film production. Amitabh Bachchan made his way back from the abyss of gloom. Slowly and gradually, he began to pay back the 90 million rupees that he owed to different people. Looking back on those days, he told “India Today” that he paid everyone, including Doordarshan. He revealed that he could never forget how creditors used to land on his doorstep, being abusive, threatening and demanding, and worse yet, when they came for ‘kudkee’ to Prateeksha, his residence. These were tough times for Bachchan, not just financially, but emotionally as well. After all, there was the deity that resided in Indian cinema, practically bankrupt. He added that there was a sword hanging from his head all the time and that he spent many nights without sleep. His house and a small property in New Delhi were confiscated. I felt like everything was going wrong. He also admitted that it was without a doubt one of the darkest moments of his 44-year professional career. It made him sit down and think, look for options and different scenarios. The answer came to him one day and he walked over to Yash Chopra, who stayed in his house. He implored him to give him a job. This is how he got “Mohabbatein”.


                Eirini Skliva was born in Athens on April 4, 1978, daughter of Mpampis and Toula Skliva. He has a sister named Lina. While studying high school she began her modeling career and participated in the “Look of the Year Greece” in 1995 achieving the second place. She began studying journalism, spoke English and was learning Italian when she entered the “Star Hellas” contest in 1996, where she again came in second place with the title of Miss Hellas, which led her to compete in Miss World held in Bangalore, India, amid massive protests. Finally, on Saturday, November 23, 1996, she won the coveted Miss World crown, the first and, until now, unique for her country. After handing over her crown in the Seychelles, she returned to Athens, where she pursued a career in television and modeling. Her face appeared on the covers of numerous Greek magazines such as Diva and LipStick. She participated in some of the largest fashion shows in the world in Athens, Milan and Munich. Irene was represented by the Ace Models Agency. In 2001, she received a marriage proposal in the Maldives and a few months later, in September 2002, married in Athens with the businessman Nikos Hydiroglou in the strictest privacy. With him she had a daughter, Maritina (born in July 2003). After her wedding, she abandoned her career in the world of modeling. They remained together until 2017 when they separated after almost 16 years of marriage. During the 2004 Summer Olympics, Skliva left her signature on Elia: The Tree of Athens, an olive tree sculpture located in the Nero Square amusement park that represented the return of the Olympics to her homeland. The villa in which Eirini Skliva lived with her husband and daughter was at the center of a legal dispute. The ex-Miss World and her ex-husband argued in the courtroom in 2020. Eirini said she was satisfied with the financial agreement she made with the businessman after their separation. The private agreement was to find a new house in six months with a rent of 3,000 euros. However, she appealed to the Court requesting the extension of the temporary order that allowed her to remain in the family home for a longer time due to the refusal of her teen daughter to move. Since 2019, she has been in a relationship with 58-year-old Lebanese businessman George Samacha. In 2020 she moved with her boyfriend to Kato Alepochori in the West Attica region.


                The Misses from Belgium, Bonaire, Czech Republic, Poland and Switzerland later competed in Miss Universe ’97 in Miami, while the Ukrainian participated in Miss Universe 2000 being the mother of a child, but withheld this information from the organizers. She and Miss Russia became pregnant shortly after participating in Miss World and neither of them relinquished their crowns to their successors. Miss Lebanon and Miss United Kingdom participated in Miss International ’97. Miss Poland was first runner-up in Miss Europe and Miss World University ’97, while Miss Curaçao was 4th. runner-up in Miss Amber World ’97, Miss Macau was Top 5 in Miss Chinese International ’97 and Miss Aruba was 2nd. runner-up in Miss Intercontinental ’97. Miss Venezuela was 2nd. runner-up in Miss Blonde International ’98 in Austria, the Peruvian won the crown of International Coffee Queen ’97 and the Canadian was in the Miss Earth and Miss Intercontinental contests in 2001. Meanwhile, Miss Bosnia competed in Miss Globe ’97 and the Brazilian, already married, participated in Mrs. World in 2009.

                Miss Colombia, Carolina Arango, returned on December 4 to her country, where she was reunited with her family and with her boyfriend who anxiously awaited her after one month apart. She returned happy with the trophy and sash that identified her as the second most beautiful woman on the planet. Then, she left the media, had a daughter named Gabriela who died in 2016 and continues in Colombia. The Brazilian Anuska Prado, a fashion entrepreneur and professional psychologist, lives today between Sao Paulo and Salvador and continues to work as a model for the Allure agency. She was married to an engineer surnamed Pisoler, from whom she was separated later. In 2015, she got married again, this time in Las Vegas with Bruno Schroeder. Venezuelan Anna Cepinska received by mail and by mistake a certificate sent by the Miss World organization naming her “Queen of the Americas” along with a check for £ 1,000. She still does not know if that money was for having been Top 5 and Miss Photogenic or they gave it to her by mistake, by mistaking her for Miss Colombia. After some years in the modeling field, she went to live in Mexico in 2004 where she currently works as an actress for Televisa. She appeared in productions such as “High Infidelity” (2006), “A dream in the skin” (2010) and “Free to love you” (2013). She also appeared on the cover of Playboy Mexico magazine in April 2007. After Miss World, the Indian Rani Jeyaraj moved to Mumbai to pursue a career in modeling. She then began working with Film Director Prahlad Kakkar. She helped several filmmakers and also took a course in London. In 2005, she appeared in a short film, “9 Minutes to Nirvana” directed by Naren Multani. Rani has also written and directed many advertising films and has been associated with the medium for many years. Today she resides in Singapore.

                Miss Aruba, Afranina Henriquez, worked for a time for the Ministry of Tourism in her country. She currently works for the Department of Culture and decided to be apart from the show business. She sings in a gospel group and serve in her church. Soon, in the month of October 2021, she will finish her studies in Theology. Another who dedicated herself to religion was the Dominican Idelsa Núñez, pastor of the evangelical church in her country, as well as a communicator and lecturer in Santo Domingo. She is the mother of Sarah and Abraham. Belgian Laurence Borremans married racing driver David Saelens in 2006 and together they have a daughter, Victoria. Laurence still does modeling domestically. Mexican Yéssica Salazar dedicated her life to acting. In her career as an actress, she has participated in more than 20 soap operas, in movies and plays, among which “La Usurpadora” stands out in 1998 and in chapters of “Como Dice el Dicho” in 2015. In 2004, once after completing her studies, South African Peggy-Sue Khumalo joined Investec Bank UK, where she worked as a fixed income analyst focused on credit analysis of the European telecommunications, media and technology sectors. She was later transferred to Investec SA where she focused primarily on the public sector portfolio. In 2019, she was widowed by her husband, Xolani Gwala, who died of cancer. With him she had two daughters.

                Miss Nigeria, Emma Komlosy, is today a renowned singer and songwriter, she is known as Aret Kapetanovic, resides in London and in 2013 she was a participant of the “UK Voice”, without classification. She worked as Director of the Hotel Café Royal and is divorced. Currently, she continues to do social works in favor of Africa with her mother, Patti Boulaye. Miss Bosnia, Belma (Zvrko) Skalonjić, works as a representative of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Canadian Michelle Weswaldi worked as Executive Director at Miss Teen Canada-World, is currently the National Director of Miss World Canada and resides in Toronto. Miss Norway, now Mrs. Eva Sjøholt-Sandvik, became a police commander and led the first police reforms in her country. Having first worked in the media on Botswana television (Btv), Joyce Manase-Ntau has grown in local media by becoming the Manager of the Gaborone FM station and recently taking over the reins of eBotswana as its General Manager. The Chilean Luz Francisca Valenzuela, sister of the model, actor and boxer Gonzalo Valenzuela, had a relationship with the tennis player Marcelo Ríos but it did not last long. Later, she married Sergio Powditch in 1998 and whom she divorced in 2015. She has three children and is an entrepreneur of a decoration supply store in Santiago.

               Italian Mara De Gennaro became an actress and singer adopting the stage name Mara Meis. She was related to Italian film producer Vittorio Cecchi Gori, from whom she separated in 2008. Ecuadorian Jennifer Graham also became an actress and appeared in the Ecuavisa soap-opera “Sin Limites” (2000). Her last collaboration on television was in the production Fanatikda, of TC-My channel. Away from the small screen, she continued modeling. In 2012, she married Leonardo Miranda Dávila with whom she has two children: Alan and Max. She left show business to become a housewife. The Costa Rican Natalia Carvajal Lorenzo is currently the General Manager of the company The Map Communications in her country while the Croatian Vanja Rupena, who developed a successful career as a model in both Croatia and Italy, also working on Italian TV, was the presenter of the Next Top Model in Croatia and founded the fashion agency VrModelsManagement in 2016. She currently resides in Bari, Italy. Upon completion of her studies, Miss Ghana, Sheila Azuntaba, dedicated herself to helping women reach their full potential through microfinance. Prior to establishing Innovative Finance Ltd (now Innovative Microfinance Ltd), Sheila Azuntaba was Deputy Vice President of Citigroup’s Global Transaction Services Unit in Nigeria, where she was responsible for the sales and marketing unit. Innovative Microfinance Ltd (IML), which was founded in March 2009, aims to effectively bridge the gap between supply and demand for financial services with a focus on women entrepreneurs and groups at the lower end of the market. The Lithuanian Daiva Anuzyte, is one of the most popular Top Models in her country until today.

                Miss Philippines, Daisy Reyes, also chose acting as a career appearing in movies and TV series and also developed as a singer. She has a daughter named Gabrielle Lauren with her husband, Barry Neil Tobias whom she married on February 18, 2019. She is currently an entrepreneur, runs a beauty salon in Pasig and a brand of soaps. She is also a public official, being Councilor of Pateros in her second term. Councilor Daisy Reyes is also a member of “Team Ministries International”. Her roommate, the Korean Soo-jin Seol is a renowned actress in her country, married to Gil-bae Park in 2003. Miss Switzerland, Mélanie Winiger, achieved success as a TV Presenter in her country. She studied acting in Hollywood and has made movies. She has a son named Noeel. Irish Niamh Redmond was supposed to go to Miss Universe in 1997 but Miss Ireland organizer Kieran Murray, replaced her with the second runner-up, Fiona Mulally, because according to him she had not impressed the judges in Miss World because she had not put up her own to stand out. Her commercials advertising contraceptives being Miss Ireland were a scandal. She graduated in finance and married rugby player Aidan McCullen with whom she has two children.

                Peruvian Mónica Chacón owns a modeling agency and comprehensive art school that bears her name in San Borja, Lima, which opened in 2006. She is married to Germán Urrunaga and has a daughter born in 2012 named Emilia. Her father, Wálter Chacón, was Minister of the Interior and Minister of Defense during the last period of Fujimori’s government. In 2001 he was accused of illicit enrichment. Thai Sirinya Burbridge made a career as a Supermodel and also made movies. She married Byron Bishop in 2005 with whom she has two children: Leila Carmen and Aiden. In 2016 she became a TV Presenter and is recognized for being the entertainer of “Asia’s Next Top Model” and also the Reality of Miss Thailand World in 2018. That year she caused a sensation on social networks when she did the hashtag #Don’ttellmehowtodress campaign, following a suggestion by the authorities asking ladies to dress discreetly to avoid sexual harassment. Sirinya replied: “Don’t tell women how to dress, tell men to respect women”. Sirinya partnered with the Thailand Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation and the UN turned the campaign into an exhibition, starting June 25, 2018, to raise awareness of sexual harassment and victim blaming in Thailand. In 2021 she worked in the Thai series “Boys Over Flowers”. Miss Israel worked as a makeup artist and graduated in law. Tali Leventhal-Brenner is currently a lawyer, married to Liner Brenner, a banker and former Yedioth reporter, a mother of three and a resident of Zurich, Switzerland. Miss American Virgin Islands, Emoliere Williams, currently resides in Fairfield, Connecticut (USA), where she works in the medical field. Turkish Sevilay Ozturk became an actress and also a renowned TV presenter and Master of Ceremonies in her country. She Keeps modeling. Russian Victoriya Tsapitsyna married before handing over the crown, lived for a time in Israel, has three children and currently resides in Moscow. Dutch Petra Hoost is a photographic entrepreneur and lives in the city of Enkhuizen.

                From that moment, she has had to fight in the New York courts until today with the children of his late husband the part of the heritage that corresponds to her, a luxury apartment in Manhattan. In 2015 she gave birth to her second daughter and she continues to live in New York with her second husband, Michael Sedoy, with whom she runs a restaurant. Miss Macedonia, Vera Mesterovic, continues working as a model, she does many commercials and has been a TV presenter. She is a mother of a boy and a girl. The British Rachael Butler dedicated herself to the Fitness world without neglecting her role of wife and mother, just like the Jamaican Selena Delgado, who, besides being a lover of sports, married in 1999 with Matthew Deleon and has two daughters, Hannah and Asher. After her reign, she worked two years at the Embassy of France in Jamaica. Miss Hong Kong, Chillie Poon, moved to Australia where she worked on that country’s TV until 1999. She married Deng Yusen in 2002 and since then she lives in Sydney where she manages a Chinese restaurant. She has two children, born in 2009 and 2010. After Miss World, the Slovenian Alenka Vindis went to Milan to try luck as a model, however she decided to continue with her education studies. She is divorced and has two children. In 2018, she was postulated for a seat in the National Assembly in the Electoral District of PTUJ on the Party List “by a healthy society”.

                Miss New Zealand, Kelly Mischewski was involved in running beauty pageants in her country in the early 2000s, is divorced and has two sons. Ugandan Sheba Kereere is editor of a magazine and is a ‘influencer” of social networks. Panamanian Norma Pérez worked for a time on TV in her country, then she retired from public life to be a businesswoman. The Czech Petra Minarova currently serves as Manager of the MHCcz International Cavalry while the Australian Nicole Smith-Tilse is the mother of two children. She worked as an actress, fashion stylist and radio and TV presenter in her country. The Yugoslavian Slavica Krivokuca-Arambašić participated three years later in the talent competition “World Championship of Performing Arts” where she achieved third place. She has been a model for many years and was also part of the Serbian girl pop group “Grupa Models”. Polish Agnieszka Zielinska-Richter works in a Poznan notary’s office and has two children. Miss Estonia, Mari-Liis Kapustin, works in real estate in her country and the French Severine Deroualle was General Manager of the investment company Societé JPS in the city of Albitreccia. Miss Zimbabwe, Nomusa Ndiweni, studied in London because she was interested in a career in the film industry, however, she left that world to dedicate herself to more spiritual things. She was licensed and is currently registered with the National Association of Traditional Healers of Zimbabwe. In 2013, she gave birth to a pair of twins. She is also one of the organizers of Bulawayo Fashion Week. Miss Swaziland, Olive Healy-Simelane, is the General Manager of Standard Bank in her country. American Kelly Webber-Hayes is married with two children and resides in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Miss British Virgin Islands, Ayana Glasgow lives today in Apopka, Florida and Miss Curacao Yandra Faulborn on the island of Bonaire, where she works as a secretary. For her part, the Latvian Anta Dukure is married to Vilnis Bravovskis and lives in Riga, while the Spanish Patricia Ruiz is married to former Real Madrid footballer Kiko Narváez, whom she married in 1999.

Anna Cepinska and Jacqueline Aguilera with Sandro Finoglio at Mr Venezuela 1997
The Pedruco sisters of Macau today, Guilhermina, Geraldina, Isabela and Guiomar