Pursuing a career in medicine means working under punishing schedules and little sleep. Dr Puja Negi Rajta, a doctor at Himachal Pradesh’s premier medical institution, did not take a break from her research at the Indira Gandhi Medical College while preparing for the Mrs Globe 2015 pageant in China.
A devoted wife and mother of a six-year-old, Dr Negi has donned three crowns in three months — Mrs India Ocean Globe, Mrs Himachal and Mrs India (first runner-up). Her success may have changed her life a great deal, but Dr Negi now wants to become the face of the state’s Beti Hai Anmol campaign.
In a conversation with Ashwani Sharma in Shimla, Dr Negi talks about chasing her dreams in the glamour world and raising awareness on cancer among rural women in the state.
Here are the excerpts from the interview.
Do you feel lucky wearing three crowns in just three months?
Absolutely. I never thought of it or planned as many girls do. It just happened once I took the plunge for Mrs Himachal contest. To be a doctor was my childhood dream since my early school days at St.Thomas, Shimla, but getting crowned as Mrs India Ocean Globe was something I had never imagined would happen.
Was it a difficult decision to join the contest?
Not so difficult initially. I thought it’s just an opportunity to do try something different and enrich my experience. Once, I got through Mrs Himachal, an event held at Dharampur (Solan) in August 2015, I moved on to explore my chances at Mrs India, which again came my way as a big surprise. Thereafter, I took it as a challenge. I told myself, yes I can do it.
What was your biggest advantage in the contest?
My self confidence. And it’s my message to all young girls entering beauty contests. First, just be confident about yourself. Nobody can defeat you other than your over confidence. Don’t ever underestimate yourself, whether you are born in a small town or big city.
Did you take a break from your job to prepare for Mrs Globe 2015?
No break. I kept my schedule at IGMC where I primarily focus on medical research in human philology. I was also at home for my daughter. I did have a fixed routine when it came to toning up my body. I was regularly at the gym and managed to squeeze in meditation and yoga. I had no mentor or a designer. I did everything by myself. It was only after I landed in Shenzen, China for the event that I underwent some grooming and fitness sessions.
How did you rate yourself among the competitors from all over the world?
There were a few top models at the Mrs India event and also at Shenzen. I did not fear anything as I never really thought I would be crowned eventually. I made my journey to the world pageant from Rampur, where I was born in a humble tribal family; I studied in Shimla and worked as a doctor in the most interiors. Standing before the audience at such a glittering event, where I was treated like a princess, doubled my confidence. And, finally, I was on top of the world – crowned as Mrs Indian Ocean.
Where do you go from here now – a profession in modelling or pursuing your medical search?
First of all, I feel very much grounded. As a young government doctor, I had tried to serve in the remotest areas. That was so satisfying. I want to build-up on my academics and take up the cancer awareness cause very proactively. It’s really shocking that every third women in Himachal is getting affected by the disease. It’s spreading fast. I have done studies and lot of research work. I will dedicate myself totally to the cause of cancer awareness and will try to reach out to every nook and corner of the state.
Dwindling sex ratio is also a big issue. You, being Mrs Himachal, can be a powerful messenger
I want to be the face of the girl child campaign in Himachal Pradesh. I feel proud to be Himachal ki beti – an honour I recently received at Hamirpur. I too have a six-year-old daughter at home – my first child and my best gift. I am going to be part of the Beti Hai Anmol campaign to spread the message of saving the girl. Just trying to join forces with the government and NGOs. Himachal has the highest literacy, including girl literacy. Let’s capitalise on this.