Embodying the spirit of ‘beauty with a purpose’, Miss India World 2019, Suman Rao, has joined forces with Princess Diya Kumari Foundation to give wings to the dreams of underprivileged women of her community. We speak with the ambitious 20-year-old to know more about her vision for India. By Adila Matra

Miss India Suman Rao
Picture Credit: Lodovico Colli Di Felizzano

A scion the royal family of Jaipur and Member of Parliament, Princess Diya Kumari has been working tirelessly for several years to empower women from deprived backgrounds by virtue of her NGO, Princess Diya Kumari Foundation (PDKF). The foundation essentially helps these women become independent and self-sufficient through skill development. Suman Rao—winner of Femina Miss India World 2019 title and India’s representative in the upcoming Miss World 2019—has a similar vision for the women in her village of Aidana in Rajasthan. And so, she decided to collaborate with PDFK and launched her #BeautyWithAPurpose initiative, Project Pragati.

How did Project Pragati come into being?

Project Pragati was literally born at home. It came into being because of the status of women at home and in my community. There is a serious lack of education and gender equality—and I wanted to change that.

Tell us about your association with Princess Diya Kumari Foundation.

PDKF is doing a brilliant job in providing the underprivileged with opportunities. We realised we have similar dreams for the community we belong to. ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ is a very important aspect of the Miss World pageant, and Project Pragati will be my official entry for it. It just felt so fitting that I collaborate with PDKF. They have been able to establish a successful model of generating employment by recruiting women and teaching them to make Indian handicraft products. I wish to establish a similar model in my village (Aidana, Rajasthan) by taking PDKF there.

What are your thoughts on responsible tourism, and what do you think needs to be done to highlight the concept in India?

There is tourism for leisure, and then there is tourism with a purpose. India is a country with such rich culture and heritage. We need to promote and export Indian products. The motto of ‘make desi, buy desi’ will really contribute to the economy of India.

Miss India Suman Rao
Picture Credit: Lodovico Colli Di Felizzano

How do you see Project Pragati and PDKF being involved and helping in this area?

Project Pragati is bridging the gap between the problem and the solution. The women of Aidana love to sew, and Project Pragati joining hands with PDKF is going to o er them the opportunity to sell their art.

How do you intend to take your project to the global platform?

‘Beauty with a Purpose’ is an initiative created by Julia Morley, the Chairperson of the Miss World Organisation in 1972. This is the most important sub-contest of the pageant. And I am proud to take Project Pragati to this global platform. Moreover, the products made by these women are available online for the world to experience.

How does travel inspire your work and vision?

I think travelling really teaches you life lessons. I am still learning mine.

Miss India Suman Rao
Picture Credit: Lodovico Colli Di Felizzano

Your favourite holiday destinations in India?

Udaipur is my go-to place to relax and enjoy the Rajputana experience. I would also like to explore Northeast India.

A word of advice for international travellers?

As one of the most economical countries to travel in, one is bound to be spoilt for choice here. I suggest ready-made holiday packages for those who like everything taken care of. Solo travellers must research thoroughly. And if you have a friend in India, then do take recommendations.

Related: Princess Diya Kumari Of The Jaipur Royal Family Talks About Her NGO For Women…