At 17, Guwahati girl Alankrita Bora stunned the fashion world by winning the “Most Desirable Woman in India 2016” title at the Miss Universe India beauty pageant, and during the lockdown months, she went out of her way to distribute 25K sanitary pads to poor women across 14 districts in Assam
“Being a woman by itself is a gift of God which all of us must appreciate. A woman is the one who shares love and shows a man what sharing, caring, and loving is all about. That is the essence of a woman,” was the response that scripted history and made 19-year-old Sushmita Sen, the first Indian to win the Miss Universe title in 1994.
Bora as a student of Class 11 was slogging to make it to the London School of Economics, but her life took a detour to the world of glamour, and she landed in Mumbai to participate in a beauty pageant.
A trained Kathak dancer and winner of the International Dance Championship in Dubai twice, in 2014 and 2016, the stage has been Alankrita’s second home.
At 17, she made a stunning debut in the city of dreams by becoming the youngest contestant in the Miss Universe India 2016 pageant.
She went on to win the title of the Most Desirable Woman in India 2016, and it opened a floodgate of opportunities for the starry-eyed teenager.
“I was still in school then. I was signed for a five-year contract with a media conglomerate. Offers started pouring in, but I chose to return home, finish my schooling.
“Once that was done, I headed to Mumbai to make a career in modelling and acting,” recounts Alankrita, whose debut feature film, Ladli Betiyaan, is ready for release.
“The film would have hit the theatres only if the lockdown had not happened,” she rues.
Alankrita, who had spent the lockdown months in Mumbai, headed home soon after the flights resumed. By then the annual nightmare of Assam, the monsoon had arrived, and it brought along the vagaries of floods in the state.
“The plight of the migrant and daily wage workers was heartbreaking. They had lost their livelihood because of the pandemic. The raging river only added to their miseries and wreaked havoc on their lives,” Alankrita says.
“Their homes had been washed away, and they were left with practically nothing. Their very survival was at stake,” she says.
Deeply moved by their plight, Alankrita joined hands with a bunch of conscientious citizens to provide ration and cooked meals to the flood-affected, jobless and penurised people.
One thing led to another, and slowly she was neck-deep in relief ops.
“I was introduced to PadSquad, a people’s movement driven by a bunch of do-gooders from across the country, by film producer Chhitra Subramaniam.
The group has so far collected and distributed 25,000 pads across Guwahati, Hajo, Morigaon, Goalpara, Dhubri, South Salmara, Bongaigaon, Jorhat, Teok, Dergaon, Shivsagar, Barpeta, Tezpur, Majuli and Kaziranga National Park, Alankrita stated
I was drawn to the idea of providing sanitary napkins to the underprivileged women. I became a PadSquadder for the collective,” she chirps, adding that the experience has deeply enriched her in more than one way.
In two months, Alankrita and as collected and distributed sanitary napkins across the flood-affected areas, along with her volunteers Siddhartha Kalita, Mousumi Dutta, Jeetumoni and Manash Jyoti Dutta.
“My father, who is a senior engineer in the government of Assam, helped me spread the word among his officers.
The response has been overwhelming. Generous donors came forward and donated sanitary napkins in hordes.
The group has so far collected and distributed 25,000 pads across Guwahati, Hajo, Morigaon, Goalpara, Dhubri, South Salmara, Bongaigaon, Jorhat, Teok, Dergaon, Shivsagar, Barpeta, Tezpur, Majuli and Kaziranga National Park,Alankrita stated.
She asserted that her indefatigable spirit is inspired by her role model Sushmita Sen.
“I believe that a woman is an epitome of power because within her resides the ability to create, nurture and transform.
“I am doing all that it takes to make a difference in the lives of other women, and that’s a gratifying thought as a woman myself,” says Alankrita, whom Subramaniam fondly calls the tour de force behind the success of the people’s movement in Assam.
The work is far from over, and once the ongoing Daan Utsav is over, the petite young actress, who is currently attending a training programme being conducted by UNICEF in Rishikesh, will get back to what she does best… reach the unreached and serve the unserved women in her home state.
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Shillpi is a New Delhi-based freelance journalist, who mostly writes to while away her time and, at times, to explore the devilry of her idle mind, on anything and everything that tickles her grey matter.