Engineer , Miss India , and Miss World 2000
Georgia Palmas, Miss Italy, was the first runner-up and Yuksel Ak, Miss Turkey , the second. They joined several other contestants in hugging Priyanka after the result was announced, as gold glitter released from the ceiling settled on the victor's head and shoulders.
The crowning of Priyanka by Yukta Mookey highlighted the fact that an Indian had won the title for the second year in a row. Only two other countries - Sweden and the United Kingdom - have achieved back-to-back Miss World titles. Priyanka is the fifth Miss India to have won the Miss World title. Venezuela is the only other country to have won so many crowns in this pageant.
Priyanka joins Lara
Priyanka's victory also ensured that both the most coveted titles in international beauty pageants were in India's possession for the year 2000. Lara Dutta had won the Miss Universe crown earlier this year. One is reminded of 1994, when Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai achieved the first Indian 'double.'
According to indiainfo.com Priyanka had been the favourite of London bookies for most of the past week. What clinched her victory, according to "sources close to the judges," was her response to a question: "Whom do you consider the most successful living woman, and why?"
Disregarding the reference to a "living" woman, Priyanka said "There are a lot of people I admire, but one of the most admirable people is Mother Teresa, who has been so compassionate, considerate and kind." She said that Mother Teresa had been the greatest influence in her life and that she admired her from the bottom of her heart.
One recalls that during the Miss Universe pageant of 1994 Sushmita Sen won quite a bit of appreciation by expressing admiration for Mother Teresa.
Did Priyanka experience extra pressure because last year's winner was also from India? Her reply to this question from compere Jerry Springer drew applause. "There has always been pressure," said Priyanka. "I always work better under pressure. Without pressure there won't be any expectations."
In an interview with Miss World Online just after being crowned, Priyanka admitted that it was an "immense responsibility," adding: "I am looking forward to every bit of it." For India she had a simple message: "I love you all."
Indian clothes designer Hemant Trivedi was one of the judges at this year's show. As the show marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Miss World pageant, several past Miss Worlds had been invited to attend. Springer asked Reita Faria, Miss India and Miss World 1966, whether she had kept any of the mementos from her victory. "Only my memories," she replied.
Like Sushmita Sen and Lara Dutta, Priyanka has an armed forces family background. She completed high school from Boston, in the United States. Her present home is Bareilly, where she is a second-year engineering student.
But whether Priyanka will now feel inclined to pursue her "ambition" to become a software engineer is open to question. She accepted the offer, made after she had won the Femina Miss India - World title in January this year, of the starring role in a film. The film, titled 'Goodnight Princess,' has been completed.
Beauty Pageant - Pictures
Will India win a fifth Miss World crown?
- R Padmanabhan