Kathmandu: Dogged by controversies and hounded by Maoists, Indian FMCG company Dabur India`s joint venture in Nepal has decided to part ways with Miss Nepal, the republic`s oldest and most popular beauty pageant.
Known as the Dabur Vatika Miss Nepal pageant since 2003 when Dabur Nepal became the main sponsor of the contest to promote its Dabur Vatika brand of beauty products for women in Nepal, the 17-year-old glamour show is being promoted this year by another Indian subsidiary, Nepal Unilever, to push its Lux beauty soap.
The Hidden Treasure, the event management company that holds the franchise for Miss Nepal, said it had approached Dabur Nepal this year as well but was told that the Indian company would not be involved in the pageant this year.
Dabur Nepal however is continuing its sponsorship of another popular annual event, a programme to mark Teej, a festival by, for and of women in Nepal.
Though Nepal currently sees scores of beauty contests, including those for
transgenders and prisoners, the women`s wing of Nepal`s Maoist party, the largest party in parliament, has been up in arms against Miss Nepal since 2006 when they ended their guerrilla war and came overground.
The pageant could not be held in 2008 when the Maoists won the election and led the government.
While the Maoist women`s organisation says such contests degrade women by depicting them as merchandise, the main reason for the campaign against Miss Nepal had apparently been the presence of Dabur Nepal as the main sponsor.
From 2009, the pageant was repositioned as the Fem Miss Nepal contest after Dabur India acquired Fem, a bleaching cream, and the news of the acquisition was not well known in Nepal.
Last year, Dabur Nepal was drawn into a battle with a media group after it stopped advertising with them and came under a crossfire of negative reports.
Its woes increased when a vigilance team raided its godown in southern Nepal in December and sealed over 70,000 cartons of its Real brand of fruit juices for containing wrong manufacturing dates.
The departure of Dabur Nepal has dampened the Miss Nepal contest.
To be held on Aug 30, it is yet to finalise the cash awards and other gifts for winners. Also, after protests by Maoists, the venue had to be shifted from the bigger public auditoriums to the smaller but more secure Army Club.
However, Gopal Kakshapati, chairman of the Hidden Treasure, said that the winners would continue to take part in international pageants.
While Miss Nepal takes part in the Miss World contest, the first runner-up represents Nepal in the Miss Earth contest and the second runner-up in the Miss International pageant.