Then and Now: Miss World winners from India

20 Feb 2024 | Priya Bhardwaj

India has always been proving its excellence in all the aspects, be it beauty pageants or owning world’s second-largest film industry. It has produced most beautiful women in terms of appearance as well as intelligence. Miss World, one of the four most prestigious beauty pageants, crowns a queen who is an amalgamation of beauty with brains and the Indian divas have never disappointed the audience when it comes to flaunting their skills at the international stages. 

Till now, the country has won six prestigious Miss World crowns that were brought home by the stunning Indian beauties who competed with grace and poise. These ladies efficiently proved themselves to be worthy of the titles and positions they got. Here are the stunning beauties who lifted the Indian flag at Miss World from then to now -

Reita Faria Miss World 1966

Reita Faria Powel represented India at Miss World 1966 where she was crowned winner at the end of the event finale. Her glorious victory at the international stage marked the first time when an Asian country won Miss World title. Born on 23 August 1943 to Goan parents, Reita was 23-years-old when she competed for the international title. Her phenomenal performance in the competition made her win the sub-titles 'Best in Swimsuit' and 'Best in Evening wear' for donning a saree. She made her way into the final question-answer round surpassing the 51 other equally talented candidates.


Miss World winners from India


Unlike many other Miss World winners, when Reita was approached by the filmmakers, she refused to move towards acting and instead chose medical science as her career. She completed her M.B.B.S. degree from Grant Medical College and Sir J.J. Group of Hospitals. Faria now lives in Dublin, Ireland, with her husband who is also a doctor like her. Though she didn’t move into the entertainment industry, her never-ending love for pageantry has been seen through all these years.

Aishwarya Rai Miss World 1994

Aishwarya Rai (now Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) represented India at Miss World 1994 when she was 21 years old. She drew in massive love and support from the audience as she brought home the crown after a long break of 28 years. Rai, with her exceptional performance throughout the competition also won the Miss World Continental Queen of Beauty – Asia and Oceania. Due to her breathtaking beautiful face, she was also awarded as ‘Miss Photogenic’ in the competition. This beauty commenced her career in pageantry when she was 19-years-old as she won an international supermodel contest organized by Ford and later on featured in the American edition of Vogue. She stood second in Miss India 1993, where Sushmita Sen who represented India in Miss Universe was crowned as the winner.


Miss World winners from India


She dreamt of living in a peaceful world and worked as a peace ambassador during her reign. In the 64th edition of the Miss World Pageant, i.e. Miss World 2014, she was felicitated with Lifetime Beauty With a Purpose Award for her humanitarian work since winning the crown two decades ago. Rai stepped into country’s entertainment Industry in 1997 and gained popularity on the global level for her wonderful performance in films like Devdas and Jodha Akbar. Her off-screen work includes working as a goodwill ambassador for UNAIDS and Smile Train. Also, she is a strong supporter of PETA India and has pledged to donate her eyes the Eye Bank Association of India. Indeed, this diva has been proving true to the Miss World crown.

Diana Haydon Miss World 1997

Diana Haydon won the crown of Miss World 1997 and became the third Indian woman to bag this honor for the country. She took over the hearts of the judges and the pageant fanatics ever since she was announced as a vying contestant. Her remarkable performance won her the titles of Miss World - Asia and Oceania, Miss Photogenic, and Miss Spectacular Swimwear labelling her as the first Miss World titleholder to win three subtitles during the competition until then.


Miss World winners from India


Diana has been associated with various charities including Child Rights and You (CRY), Greenpeace, PETA and the Spastic Society of India and has also supported awareness campaigns regarding fatal illnesses like cancer and HIV/AIDS. Being a drama student, Haydon made her on-screen debut in 2001 with a South African film version of Shakespeare’s drama, Othello. In 2012, the beauty launched book entitled ‘A Beautiful Truth’ which is an encyclopedia on grooming and deals with personality development and confidence building.

Yukta Mookhey Miss World 1999

One of the most adorable Miss World winners of India is Yukta Mookhey who works for the welfare of the people affected by HIV/AIDS, breast cancer and thalassemia. Yukta vied for the crown of Miss World in 1999 where she represented India. She made her debut in pageantry at the young age of 19 vying in Femina Miss India 1999 where she was crowned as the first runner up at the end of the pageant. After being crowned as Miss World 1999, Mookhey stepped into the India’s entertainment Industry and starred in a few Bollywood films.


Miss World winners from India


Yukta is compassionate and has made huge contribution for the underprivileged section of the society. She has also decided to donate her organs and when asked about her action, she said, "This step will benefit someone, once I leave this world". She became a member of the Indian political party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2004. Her phenomenal performance in Miss World 1999 brought in a lot of appreciation from the audience. 

Priyanka Chopra Miss World 2000

Priyanka Chopra, who is global icon today, kicked off her journey in pageantry at a young age of 17. Her mother enrolled her in Femina Miss India contest 2000 where she stood second gaining the opportunity to represent India in Miss World 2000. This beauty who was bullied for her complexion in childhood, proved her worth in Miss World 2000 when she was crowned as a winner at the conclusion of the event. She was crowned by her predecessor, Miss World 1999, Yukta Mookhey who was also an Indian.


Miss World winners from India


This was the first time India won the Miss World competition consecutively for two years. In the same year the country marked its victory in Miss Universe 2000 and Miss Asia-Pacific 2000 won by Lara Dutta and Dia Mirza respectively. Priyanka Chopra also won the title of Miss World Continental Queen of Beauty – Asia & Oceania at the Miss World 2000 stage.

Chopra rose to fame after winning the national and international beauty pageants as her victory opened the door for her modelling and acting career. A singer, writer, actor, and model by profession, Chopra is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Child Rights since 2010. She also married the love of her life and a well-known American singer, Nick Jonas. Priyanka is definitely the most successful Miss World winners of all time.

Manushi Chhillar Miss World 2017

Manushi Chillar was 20 years old when she vied for the crown of Miss World 2017 as a representative of India. Graduating from Bhagat Phool Singh Medical College in Sonipat, Manushi is pursuing a degree in medical science and has been a bright student since her childhood. A perfect combination of beauty with brains, she is trained dancer and owns an enchanting personality.


Miss World winners from India


Her journey in pageantry commenced from Fbb Campus Princess 2016, where she was crowned as one of the finalists. She later participated in Miss India 2017 which gained her the right to represent India in Miss World 2017. Chhillar led a beauty with a purpose campaign and her project was titled as ‘Project Shakti’ that scattered awareness regarding menstrual hygiene. She made huge contribution in raising the social standards of health of young girls across the country and the world. Manushi, after her reign, made her debut in country’s entertainment industry with the film Prithviraj. Since then, she has been working as an actor in the film industry.