Manpreet Brar (Miss Universe 1995- 1st Runner up): From Beauty Queen to Entrepreneur and Social Activist


Manpreet Brar is a name that resonates with many Indians, especially those who were around in the 1990s. Her journey from winning the prestigious Miss India crown in 1995 to becoming the first runner-up at the Miss Universe pageant the same year was nothing short of remarkable.

Early Life and Education of Manpreet Brar

Manpreet Brar was born on June 9, 1973, into a Brar Jat Sikh family in Mizoram, India. Her academic journey was marked by excellence, as she graduated from Lady Irwin College, Delhi, with honors in Community Resource Management and Extension. Not only was she a bright student, but she also held the position of college president in her final year. These early signs of leadership and determination were indicators of her future success.

The Pageant Queen

Manpreet’s entry into the Femina Miss India contest in 1995 marked the beginning of a new chapter in her life. In a competition that featured 24 other talented contestants, she emerged as the winner. The title was conferred upon her by none other than the reigning Miss Universe, Sushmita Sen, who would later become her mentor and friend. Manpreet’s victory at Miss India was the first step towards international recognition.

She represented India at the Miss Universe pageant held in Namibia, where she showcased not only her striking beauty but also her intelligence, grace, and charm. These qualities didn’t go unnoticed by the judges and audience. Manpreet was crowned the first runner-up, trailing behind Miss USA Chelsi Smith, which marked the second consecutive year that India had achieved a top-two finish at the Miss Universe pageant.

Modeling and Brand Ambassadorship

Following her success on the global stage, Manpreet returned to India and quickly became one of the most sought-after models in the country. Her presence graced fashion shows, magazines, and advertisements. She even modeled an ethnic wardrobe designed by Ritu Kumar and sponsored by The Times of India. Her enchanting aura and natural beauty made her a popular choice as the brand ambassador for Omega watches.

Venturing into Television

Manpreet Brar’s talent and charisma weren’t limited to the runway and print media alone. She ventured into television and hosted various shows, including Star Miss India, BPL Oye, and Mangta Hai on Channel V. Her eloquence, wit, and engaging personality made her a beloved television host. She also had the privilege of hosting prestigious events like the Filmfare Awards, Graviera Manhunt, and AD Club Awards.

Personal Life and Motherhood

In 2000, Manpreet tied the knot with businessman Arjun Walia. The couple settled down in Delhi and eventually had two children, a son and a daughter. With motherhood came a transition in her priorities, and she embraced her role as a homemaker with the same enthusiasm and dedication she had shown in her career.

A Return to Her Roots: Healthy Lifestyle and Social Work

Manpreet Brar has always been an advocate for a healthy lifestyle. She is known for being an eggetarian and commits an hour daily to staying fit and active. Her choice of a healthy lifestyle is a testament to her commitment to overall well-being.

However, what truly sets Manpreet Brar apart is her dedication to various social causes. She’s involved in initiatives related to education, healthcare, the environment, and women empowerment. This commitment is evident in her association with several NGOs and charitable organizations:

  1. Child Rights and You (CRY): Manpreet Brar is a patron of CRY, an NGO that works for the rights of underprivileged children in India. She actively participates in events and campaigns to raise awareness and funds for children’s education, health, protection, and participation.
  2. HelpAge India: She’s a supporter of HelpAge India, an NGO that cares for and empowers elderly people in India. She has personally visited old age homes run by HelpAge India, interacted with senior citizens, and donated to provide medical aid, food, shelter, and dignity to the elderly.
  3. People for Animals (PFA): Manpreet Brar’s love for animals led her to become a member of PFA, an NGO dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of animals in distress. She has not only adopted several stray dogs and cats but also actively advocates for animal rights and welfare.
  4. Greenpeace India: Her passion for the environment has also led her to support Greenpeace India, an environmental NGO fighting against climate change, deforestation, pollution, nuclear power, and more. She has participated in campaigns and protests organized by Greenpeace India.

The Entrepreneur and Social Activist

Manpreet Brar’s journey didn’t stop with motherhood and social work. She transitioned into a successful entrepreneur. She is the co-founder and director of Brands We Love, a company specializing in marketing and branding solutions. Her entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen have played a pivotal role in helping various clients strengthen their brands.

Moreover, Manpreet is the founder of Mompreneurs India, a network of women entrepreneurs who successfully balance their professional and family lives. This initiative not only promotes women entrepreneurship but also empowers women to achieve their dreams without compromising their family life.

Sharing Wisdom and Inspiring Others

Manpreet Brar has been a mentor and speaker at various platforms such as TEDx, TiE, Women Economic Forum, and FICCI FLO. She shares her insights and experiences on leadership, entrepreneurship, personal branding, and social responsibility. Her journey serves as an inspiration for those who aspire to pursue their dreams and make a positive impact in the world.

In conclusion, Manpreet Brar’s life journey is a testament to the idea that beauty can coexist with intelligence, talent, and a strong sense of social responsibility. Her career transition from a renowned beauty queen and model to a successful entrepreneur and social activist showcases her versatility and the depth of her character. She has become an embodiment of the modern woman, proving that success is not incompatible with happiness and harmony. Her story is one of inspiration, empowerment, and a commitment to making the world a better place. Manpreet Brar, the name that glittered on the pageant stage, now shines even brighter in the hearts of those she inspires and empowers.

Also read about “Sushmita Sen: A Woman of Substance and Compassion

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