We think beauty contests and we often visualise beautifully dressed women walking down the ramp, but some pageants are different. Mrs India Queen of Substance 2018 was one such unique pageant that concluded in Delhi recently, and saw city girl Shivani Naik Shah winning the prestigious crown.
Held to honour Indian women achievers, “it looks at women of Indian origin with distinguished backgrounds and achievements,” Shah tells us. She had, along with her, women from varied walks of life — doctors, retired lady Army officers and corporate leaders. The fashion quotient witnessed during the pageant was all things grand and elegant. The jury panel consisted of eminent personalities from various fields such as Bollywood actor Mahima Choudhary, former Miss India Poonam Dhillon, directors Ritika Vinay and Vinay Yadawa, Lt Rita Gangwani (Pageant coach of Miss World), and Dr Shishir Palasapure, among others.
The show that witnessed the participation of 48 divas from countries like Canada, UK, Britain and India, was “almost like an examination,” Shah says, adding, “It was more of a personality pageant than a beauty contest. The contestants were judged on the basis of several rounds such as fitness/talent/cultural rounds etc which were conducted over the span of three days.”
Shah, who did her engineering and a double MBA with gold medals, was crowned Mrs India Queen of Substance 2018 by Mahima Choudhary, Poonam Dhillon and Bhavana Bahl Malhotra (the outgoing Mrs India Queen of Substance 2017-2018). She also won the crown for Mrs Famous, a coveted subtitle in the pageant for being congenial, approachable and an inspiration.
“I was comfortable working as a government advisor for a big company and have always been interested in keeping myself presentable in terms of my knowledge and looks,” says the winner who has often been pushed by her friends and relatives to pursue modelling. She had also applied to Ms Diva in 2012 where she was a finalist as also at the Mrs India Earth 2017 which honours women with contribution to the environment and nature.
Now an advisor to the Government of India and Government of Maharashtra for improving the rank of our country in the ‘Ease of Doing Business 2018 ranking’ and Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, Shah says that this time, “with a smoother career path, I went into the competition with more preparation, and hence these results.”
How has it been balancing a demanding career and preparing for such a pageant? “It is a tough task but if you got your family’s support, things become better. Luckily for me, my in-laws have been quite encouraging of my aspirations and hence I pulled it off,” she answers. It doesn’t become easier though. Shah works 12 hours a day, managing her job, her social activities and these events.
The 30-year-old is active as a trustee for The Wishing Factory, an NGO supporting medical care for Cancer and Thalassemia patients and volunteers with Robin Hood Army for feeding and teaching slum children.
With all this success and achievement, Shah has no plans of stopping. She wishes to use this opportunity to be a part of many more fashion and modelling projects in the future and give back to society for causes related to education, medical facilities and self development of underprivileged children and youth. She also plans to start, along with her husband, an NGO for underprivileged kids soon.
Can women have it all, we ask her. “It depends majorly on your family. Find that one person who trusts your dreams and make her/him your confidant. Things must change. We, as women, must become the trendsetters,” she signs off.