Manushi Chhillar: Indian medical student turned beauty queen

India’s Manushi Chhillar was crowned Miss World on Saturday, 16 years after the country’s Priyanka Chopra won the title in 2000.

Chhillar, 21, became the sixth Indian woman to win the glamorous pageant. She competed against 108 contestants from various countries at a glittering event at the Sanya City Arena in China. She was crowned by Miss World 2016, Puerto Rico’s Stephanie Del Valle.

Chhillar, a medical student who hails from Haryana, won both the “Head to Head” challenge and the “Beauty with a Purpose” segment of the competition. Earlier this year, she won the Femina Miss India 2017.

Born to doctor parents, Chhillar studied in St. Thomas School in New Delhi and Bhagat Phool Singh Government Medical College for Women in Sonepat. Her entire family was present at the pageant.

Chhillar was asked by the judges which profession deserved the highest salary and why.

“My mother has been my biggest inspiration, so I have to say a mother’s job,” she replied. “It’s not always about cash, but love and respect as well. A mother deserves that the most.”

Chillar had earlier said she grew up admiring Reita Faria, the first Indian and Asian to win Miss World in 1966. Faria became the first Miss World winner to qualify as a doctor.

Former pageant winners from India — such as Sushmita Sen, Aishwarya Rai and Priyanka Chopra — have gone on to carve successful careers in Bollywood.

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But Chhillar told Indian news agency PTI: “I disagree with the notion. I feel that Miss India is a stepping stone for anything you want to do, not just Bollywood.”