Through the Lens: Life and Politics in Asia

Why Did This Russian Woman Contest an Indian Beauty Pageant?

Elena Tuteja, a finalist in the Mrs India Earth 2017 contest, wants women to follow their dreams.

Vishal Arora

Elena Tuteja, a Russian woman married to an Indian man, was a finalist in the Mrs India Earth 2017 contest. True to the beauty pageant’s purpose, to promote women’s empowerment, she has a message for Indian women in particular and society in general.

In this interview, Elena tells The Diplomat that her message is to encourage married women not to confine themselves to the kitchen, but to follow their dreams. She also wants to encourage Indian society to be more accepting of “foreigners.”

Although Elena’s husband is Indian and she can speak Hindi, which is spoken in many parts of the country, she thinks she is still not seen as an Indian. Some contestants have allegedly questioned why “this Russian” woman was contesting in an Indian beauty pageant.