SRINAGAR: The Miss World beauty contest will be held in Kashmir as part of a month-long series of events across India, organisers have said.
India has been promoting tourism in the disputed region — home to spectacular mountain scenery — and more than a million Indian citizens visited it last year.
Miss World Organisation chair Julia Morley said that India will host a month-long series of events for the annual international beauty pageant from November to December, with part of the schedule to be held in occupied Kashmir.
“This is a blessed place for tourism,” Morley told reporters while on a visit to Srinagar on Monday, the region’s main city. Competitors will take part in “talent showcases, sports challenges, and charitable initiatives” to shortlist participants before the grand finale in December, the organisation said.
Miss World organisers say the contest “celebrates the beauty, intellect, and humanitarian efforts of women”. The pageant has in the past sparked protests from critics who say it perpetuates the objectification of women and contributes to a beauty industry that pressures women to appear a certain way.
In May, India hosted a G20 tourism meeting in Srinagar under tight security in a bid to show that what officials call “normalcy and peace” were returning after a massive crackdown following New Delhi’s revocation of the region’s limited autonomy in 2019.
Dissent has been criminalised, media freedoms curbed and public protests limited in what critics say is a drastic curtailment of civil liberties by Indian authorities.
Miss World 2022 Karolina Bielawska said she was stunned by Kashmir’s scenery. “I cannot wait to welcome 140 nations, and all my friends and family, to bring them here to India and to show them places like Kashmir, like Delhi, Mumbai… you have so many beautiful places”, the Polish model said.