South African is new Miss India Worldwide

Durban: South African medical student Kajal Lutchminarian has won the Miss India Worldwide 2010 title at a glittering event here.
Niharica Raizada of the UK was the first runner-up and Cher Marchand of Suriname came third as finalists from 25 Diaspora countries straddling all continents vied for the coveted title at the International Convention Center here last night.
It was a special moment for Lutchminarian, 21, as she will now become a global Indian ambassador in the same year that South Africa is celebrating as the 150th anniversary of the arrival of her forebears as indentured laborers for the sugar cane plantations here.
Minutes after winning the title, Lutchminarian said that she would use it to globally expand a project to fight HIV/AIDS among poverty-stricken communities in South Africa for which she has been working for five years.
“I’m so glad I brought the crown home. I think it’s about time South Africa had a turn,” an elated Lutchminarian said.
“I grew up on a sugar cane farm in Tongaat in the heart of the sugar belt in South Africa and I think it`s so important that 150 years after our ancestors have come here that something like this could happen for our town and our country and our nation.”
“With 2010 FIFA World Cup also coming to South Africa (in June) I think this is going to open up a world of opportunities for South Africa,” Lutchminarian said. “This was a double bonus for us. We wanted to host the Pageant in South Africa for the 150th anniversary here and now there is also a winner from South Africa,” said Dharmatma Saran of the US, who initiated the pageant more than two decades ago.
“This was the best pageant of the three hosted by South Africa and it was fitting that Kajal became the second winner from South Africa after Sarika Sukdeo won the title in San Francisco in 2002,” Saran added as he reflected on how he had started out the first one with an audience of just 20 in the basement of the Air India office in New York.
“This is certainly going to lift the spirits of the community as we mark 150 years of being South Africans,” said Farook Khan, national director of the Miss India Worldwide Pageant for South Africa for the past two decades.
The pageant will now move to Holland in 2011.

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