Thursday, April 22, 2004

Chivalry Watch: Lakshmi Pandit Gives Up Miss India Crown

One of the goals of this blog is "the restoration of the heroic and the chivalrous" but I haven't had much to say about that subject so far. Of course, there are many worthy examples in the military, but this story caught my attention because she actually mentions the word chivalry in the interview. Unfortunately the interview could use a little editing, many of the questions are rather repetitive (and more than a little ungentlemanly, to my mind) but here are the highlights. The background is that Lakshmi Pandit was named Miss India a few weeks ago, but got into trouble when it was revealed that she had claimed to be married in order to rent an apartment. Evidently landlords are unwilling to rent to single women, especially in show business. Rather than endure public scandal, she voluntarily relinquished her crown, a courageous move in my book. This is evidently the first public interview she has given since that time.

On Chivalry:

    "The question was from one of the most renowned designer-choreographers of the country, Hemant Trivedi. He asked me, when a man opens a door for a woman or pulls a chair for her, is it because he sees it as equality or is it because of male chauvinism. I thought for a second and I realised it is neither equality nor chauvinism. And that's what my answer was. I said it's chivalry and chivalry isn't dead even today. I felt that I am proud of all the men on this planet who have kept chivalry alive up to today and that's what I got complimented for."

On the Scandal:
    "The next morning I had to clarify to the Times that whatever I said to the landlady was only because I needed the house at that time. And I could not find a house in Mumbai. My ramp career was taking off to the skies and I was becoming a very busy model. I had to find a house for myself. Wherever I went in Mumbai, they wouldn't give the house to a girl who's single and especially if she's in the show business. They just don't. "

On Being Scared:
    "Yes, I was. It would scare any young woman. I was scared a lot, I didn't want it at all. I had won the crown and I wanted to be the role model that I had dreamt of being. This controversy did add a black mark and I didn't want it. I was scared."

On Getting Over It:
    "I don't want to think about it. I had my moment of glory. That's mine forever. That nobody can take away from me. I had the crown for a day. I am happy about it. I got a lot of public support. Even now I get a lot of public support. People send me emails. They call me up to say you deserved the crown and you got it. But what happened just happened. It's bad times. Just forget it."

I'm not generally one to pay much attention to beauty pageants but I think this young woman deserves credit for doing the right thing, doing it quickly and not trying to capitalize on her victimhood. Oh, and did I mention, she's a doctor?

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