Man behind pageant fights odds, refuses to give up

By S Gopal Puri | Times of India

It is the passion to see his country Tibet a free nation that keeps Lobsang Wangyal going despite odds. Having failed to land sponsors for the Miss Tibet 2011 contest, Wangyal, the man behind the beauty pageant, instead of giving up, invested his life’s savings into hosting of the pageant. On Sunday, while the Miss Tibet 2011 winner is being crowned at Dharamshala, Wangyal would be left wondering how to manage things next year when he hosts the pageant.

Living in a rented accommodation, Wangyal, 41, said his mother and brother, living in the US, were helping him hold the event by pitching in with 1,000 dollars for the cause every year, but he has now exhausted all the money. “I will be under a debt of Rs 4-5 lakh after this contest, as I have put even my last penny into it,” he disclosed.

Rates of the tickets for the finale range from Rs 100 to 200. Wangyal said he had invested Rs 8 lakh in the event, while exptected sales of tickets will make for returns of Rs 3 lakh to Rs 3.5 lakh.

Till last year, the show was being sponsored by some companies, but this time, no one came forward to sponsor the event.

Since the start of the contest some 10 years back, even after getting sponsors for the annual event, he has lost money every year except in 2009, when a private company sponsored the event.

Before the event kicked off this time, he contacted many business houses and individuals for sponsorships, but all of them came up with a refusal. “I had started feeling I had failed in my approach or I might be lacking skills to raise funds or in marketing and strategizing to even so much as meet the basic costs of the event,” he said.

But the financial constriants failed to stop him from pursuing his passion. Wangyal said he had yet to clear debts of some vendors and friends from whom he took loans to organize last year’s event. “For me, the contest is a platform to highlight the cause of Tibet’s freedom,” he said.

Cash crunch is keeping him from pursuing other planned events like Tibet Fashion Week and Miss Himalaya.

Copyright © 2012 Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd Published in The Times of India - Sunday Times of India, 5 June 2011, page 5