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One or two do not reflect community view

While former TV1 Breakfast programme presenter Paul Henry was making headline news all over the world for his comments that were termed ‘racist and vicious humour,’ there was another controversy that surfaced, making many wonder if ‘reverse racism’ was being played out in the beauty circles.

According to some, when 21-year-old Jacinta Lal was crowned Miss Indianz Central 2010 at the Miss Indianz Beauty Pageant held in Wellington on April 17 (Indian Newslink, May 1, 2010), some eyebrows were raised.

Although this newspaper did not receive any formal complaint, it was rumoured that some members of the audience objected to her selection, saying, “She was not an Indian and should not have won the title.”

These comments surfaced last fortnight, made front page in the New Zealand Herald, and was featured on Campbell Live (TV3).

Jacinta has mixed parentage (her father is an Indo-Fijian) and hence satisfied the rules of the Contest. Dharmesh Parikh, Director of Reshab D Productions (Rhythm House Limited) which organised the regional and national contests said, “It was a small group of small- minded people who booed at the Wellington.”

As Miss Indianz Central, Jacinta automatically qualified to enter the finals of Miss Indianz Contest held at the Auckland Town Hall on August 7, where she received the ‘Miss Beautiful Eyes’ title.

Jacinta wrote the following in response to the controversy:

I would like to say that my overall experience of the Miss India New Zealand competition was positive. I was fully supported by the organisers of the Pageant, especially by Director Dharmesh Parikh. I also had the support of the Indian community as winner of Miss India New Zealand Central.

I was not aware of any booing. However, if there was, I may have not been their favourite choice for winner. I believe that this could have occurred at any competition anywhere in the world.

The media had correctly quoted me as saying, “Yes that is me in the picture, and yes I did hear some people say that I was not Indian looking enough to win the pageant.”

But I must explain that the comment (“Is she ever Indian?”) was overheard by a friend attending the show.

We need not treat this as “Us vs Them issue”. It was the fault of the individuals concerned. Please do not lay blame on the Indian community and make them feel guilty for the actions of one or two persons.

It hurts when people quickly judge an entire community.

I believe this issue has been blown out of proportion and it has taken the focus off the inappropriate and offensive comments that Paul Henry made on national television.

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