No electricity, no road… Miss Universe contestant gets a reality check in her Bihar village

Shilpa Singh

Beauty queens are known for making politically correct speeches, off and on the ramps. But a Bihar girl, who represented the country at the recent Miss Universe 2012 pageant in Las Vegas, could not hold back from calling a spade a spade when she saw no lights and good roads in her village during visit to her home state.

Shilpa Singh, a software engineer-turned-model who made it to the top 16 at the Miss Universe contest before being eliminated in December last, said that she saw no trace of electricity at her village during her three-day stay there. “My village has remained deprived of electricity all these years,” she said in Patna on her return from her ancestral Vishnupur Diha village under Singhia block of Samastipur district. “I wish my village gets the electricity soon so that it helps the children in their education there.”

When Shilpa reached her village last week, she was surprised to know from her villagers that electricity had eluded the place since 1970s when the floods had washed away the power lines. Since then, electricity connection has not been restored there. This came as a big disappointment for the pretty lass who had gone there on a thanksgiving visit.

The 23-year-old Mumbai-based beauty queen, who accompanied her parents on the trip, said that she had last visited her village about eight years ago but she did not find much difference there. “Electricity is not the only problem,” she said. “The roads were also in bad condition there.”

She said that she had come to Bihar to thank all the people of the state who had prayed for her success at the Miss Universe contest. During her village trip, she visited the two schools in her village but discovered that they too lacked proper infrastructure.

Shilpa said that Bihar had progressed a lot in the last few years but the signs of development were perceptible more in and around Patna than the villages like hers in the backwaters of the state. “I would like to do anything in my capacity to help improve the situation in the rural areas of Bihar,” she said. “I wish to do something for my state in the field of girl education and health.”

Shilpa said she would apprise chief minister Nitish Kumar about it if she got an opportunity to meet him.

Shilpa, however, promised to return to her village despite her recent experience. “I will definitely go back to my village soon,” she said.

Shilpa said that her villagers accorded her a warm welcome during her stay. “All my villagers had watched the Miss Universe contest live on television and cheered me on,” she said. “Even though there was no electricity, the village mukhiya (headman) arranged a generator for the telecast.”

Shilpa said that she was weighing the option of joining the film industry now. “I have received a few film offers from Bollywood,” she said. “I am at present reading the scripts.”

But at the same time, she wanted to pursue academic career as well. “I am keen on pursuing MBA course,” she said. “I have already begun preparing for GMAT and CAT exams.”

Shilpa’s entry into the Miss Universe pageant had caused celebrations in her village in December last. Her villagers performed havan and puja to pray for the success of the daughter of the soil. Even though she failed to qualify among the top ten contestants, the villagers felt she had done Bihar proud by making it to the international pageant from an obscure hamlet in Bihar that has remained without electricity all these years.

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