Diving in deep waters to make India proud: Varsha Rajkhowa

Ever since Varsha Rajkhowa was a little girl, she showed no fear to be on stage and express herself through dance. An accomplished national-level swimmer, the city-based model is going to be the first Indian to represent the country at the Scuba International Pageant that will be held in Malaysia on November 19. “I am a national level swimmer. I studied environmental sciences and specialised in waste water engineering and I love dancing. It’s as if this pageant is made for me!” exclaims Rajkhowa.

Rajkhowa underwater at Havelock Island

Tracing her journey from the very start, the story of Rajkhowa’s modelling journey begins when she was urged by her mother to take part in the RSI May Queen pageant while still in college. “At the time, I weighed 72 kilograms and I had no training in modelling whatsoever. I just put on a backless gown and my mentor pushed me on stage, assuring me that my fear would go away once I started walking,” she explains. Though that was the stepping stone, Rajkhowa faced more than 20 rejections within the modelling industry because she did not match the conventional beauty standards, “I constantly kept working on myself and I never gave up because this is something I really want.”

After winning several pageants like Miss Summer Tulip (2016), Indian Bridal Contest (2015), Campus Princess Miss Diva Pune (2015), she recently won the title of Miss Scuba, at the Abraxas Goddess of Beauty pageant held in Goa earlier this year which qualifies her for the international pageant in November. Rajkhowa has been rigorously working towards understanding the ocean and its specifications. She trained with Pune-based divers Kshitij Mittal and Malhar Kulkarni at Havelock Island situated in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, “As part of the training, I was helped with underwater shoots and we had to go 60 feet deep to really understand the diversity in marine life. I met a lot of divers and people associated with ocean conservation to understand things better. The pageant is unique because it requires models to speak about the marine ecosystem and what their country is doing to protect it.”

Through diving, she understood the factors that are causing harm to life underwater, “Overfishing, throwing garbage into water bodies and contamination from industries is slowing down the process of creating warm water. There is more cold water in the sea and this decreases the level of salt. This is disturbing the balance. The result of this is change in the weather conditions. We will experience extreme hot or extreme cold temperatures.”

Rajkhowa also speaks about the importance of spreading environmental awareness in schools as it is something she did when she was a student. But, her experience of communicating with students as a student and later as a model is starkly different. “It makes such a huge difference when you’re speaking to people with your crown and a sash on. They take you more seriously and listen to what you have to say. Models should use their titles to make a difference in society and spread awareness about pressing concerns,” she expresses. Narrating an experience in Havelock, she says that people lack the sensitivity towards keeping nature intact, “Some people just don’t care. They are throwing plastic bottles into the sea even when marine life is visible to them on the surface. Even if there is a dustbin just walking distance away, many will prefer to throw garbage in the sea. This is something that bothers me and I want to work on it.”

Born in Assam, Rajkhowa shifted to Pune a decade ago after moving around different parts of the country with her parents, “As someone from the North-East, I have been bullied in school several times. People find it very hard to accept me as an Indian and get shocked when they hear me speak fluently in Hindi. I got asked if I eat dogs or if I need a passport to travel to Assam. Pune has accepted me just the way I am. This place is a good platform to make something of yourself. I can proudly say that I am a Puneite!”

Vijayta Lalwani

Vijayta Lalwani

The young lady from Lagos has always been keen on a career in journalism. Pune365 was hence the right stop. We agree. vijayta@pune365.com
Vijayta Lalwani