Jubilant selectors of Miss India, Lara Dutta, 21, crowned Miss Universe 2000 on Saturday, said a combination of "looks and brains" earned the Bangalore-based woman the coveted title in Nicosia.
"We thought she would win and she has won. She has got the combination of looks and brains," said Satya Saran, editor of the Times of India group's Femina magazine which has been organizing Miss India contests since 1964.
"Lara is exactly what Miss Universe is looking for... The way she conducts herself and talks, she is in control of herself," Saran told AFP.
"We knew Lara was in when we saw her in Round one. She is an absolutely focused person who has worked very hard for this," the Femina editor said of Lara, daughter of former Miss Madras, Jeniffer Dutta, and an Indian airforce pilot, Wing Commander L.K. Dutta.
"We are very excited. It's tremendous. We were confident of her chances," her father said in Nicosia.
Aruna Mookhey, mother of reigning Miss World Yookta Mookhey, said it was a proud moment for India.
"It is like a repeat of 1994," she said in a reference to Sushmita Sen, who was crowned Miss Universe six years ago.
"I am excited we were hoping she would make it," said Mookhey, who has been running a grooming school in Bombay for the past two years.
"India has arrived everywhere which means that with a little bit of polishing and grooming we can make it to the best in the world. We are all very proud."
Pradeep Guha, the chief spokesman of the Times group, said the contest was more than just an "exhibition of flesh."
"This whole talk of beauty contest being just an exhibition of the flesh is a thing of the past. This is really a personality contest in addition to a contest about looks," said Guha.
Speaking of Lara, the Times spokesman said: "We knew she was a great contender. We were very confident that Lara would make it to the top.
"Lara is an extremely confident girl. She is very good looking and has a rounded personality that is what took her to the top.
We are jubilant and we are proud that we have contributed to this," he said -- BOMBAY (AFP)
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