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Manya Singh: Miss India 2020 runner-up's father wants all daughters to believe in their dreams

Lina Baliga/Mumbai
Filed on February 19, 2021
Photo/PTI

Miss India 2020 runner-up Manya Singh’s proud father Omprakash Singh talks about her arduous journey to success.

In a quiet bylane at Janupada slum at Thakur Village in Kandivali, there are banners raised in Manya Singh’s honour. Singh was crowned VLCC Femina Miss India 2020 Runner-Up last week and ever since they put up banners emblazoned, “Manya Singh: Janupada ki laadli” (Janupada’s favourite). This little known slum in Kandivali was also the birthplace of Singh in 2000.

For Singh’s parents all the idolatry and people basking in their reflected glory is not a novelty anymore.

“Villagers in UP call her Gorakhpur’s girl, she is Thakur village’s pride and now Janupada’s Laadli in Kandivali. Whether it is her birthplace or the chawl where she spent her childhood they have put up boards and banners celebrating her victory. For people who knew her, it is a matter of pride. I lived in Janupada chawl from 2000 to 2005 and then shifted to Singh Estate chawl in the nearby area,” said Omprakash Singh, her 45-year-old proud father, who rides an autorickshaw for a living, in an interview with City Times.

Yogesh Bhoir, a former corporator from Thakur Village said Omprakash had come to visit them after Manya won the Miss India Runner-Up title.

“Any Indian from a humble background who gets fame becomes the pride of the place where she grew up. Politicians are trying to take credit of her victory and calling her “Janupada’s laadli” now. But they never bothered to even give ladoos to this laadli or aided her financially in her education,” said Bhoir.

Bhoir said she hasn’t visited Janupada yet but went to Singh Estate chawl after her victory. The chawl residents are planning to host a celebration in her honour soon.

Manya’s inspirational story isnt just about her lone struggle.

“It was a collective effort and the sacrifices done by my family. All my family members have struggled to ensure she realises her dream,” said Singh.

For the 45-year-old proud father the last six years has been a challenge, especially when he had to ride his autorickshaw for 14-18 hours at a stretch.

“My job was to drop her by rickshaw to her college, her workplace and even to venues where she did modelling. We had to sometimes make ends meet as the daily wages would get compromised as I would spend most time ferrying her to various places than ferrying my customers. I would then work overtime. A rickshaw driver gets tired within 4-5 hours of duty but I had to work overtime to ensure there was a steady flow of income,” said Singh.

Singh said his wife Manorama works in a salon in Kandivali as a hairdresser as multiple sources of incomes were needed to survive in a fast paced city like Mumbai.

“Her father is on the committee of autorickshaw drivers and I know him. I have see his struggle where he rode the rickshaw for 14 to 18 hours and the extra hour he put in for his daughter. The credit goes to parents for burning the candle at both the ends and helping the daughter realise her dream,” added Bhoir.

Manya too not only attended college, but she also did part time jobs and ventured into the world of modelling to pay for her personal expenses. She bagged her Bachelors degree in Banking Insurance from Thakur College of Science and won the ‘Best Student of the Year’ award with 85 per cent marks.

“It was a costly college with exorbitant fees but we managed somehow. After returning from college she would go to work where she picked up skills to speak English fluently. We call it “lehja” in Hindi. Her diction improved because she worked in a private company. She used to be awake till late night to study and then attend college in the morning. Models used to wear Rs10,000 worth heels. My daughter wore ordinary heels costing Rs250 because it was unaffordable,” said Singh.

The pandemic has hit his income badly.

“In Mumbai due to the pandemic autorickshaw drivers are facing unemployment. Many are going hungry. During lockdown we all went back to our village in Hata in UP,” he said.

When queried about Manya’s future plans he said, “She is living a busy life now and I don’t know what the road ahead lies for my daughter. But I want all the daughters of India to be hardworking like my daughter and to believe in their dreams,” said Singh.





 
 
 
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