Miss Universe Olivia Culpo has been charged for desecrating a historical monument, and that historic monument is no other than the world famous Taj Mahal at Agra in India. She and her accomplices are charged under the various sections of the India’s Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, by the Agra police.
The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum, which was built by the Mogul Emperor Shah Jehan in loving memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. According to the Islamic tradition, one has to take off his/her shoes once he enters the premises of any mausoleum and not just the Taj Mahal , in particular.
Miss Universe is charged with the offence of insulting the Islamic tradition. She supposedly was able to get past the awe struck security personnel, with her handbag hiding the branded shoes inside. Later, she used these branded shoes in a photo shoot at the Taj Mahal.
The criminal negligence of the security staff is being investigated; but it appears, that the disrespect shown by the Miss Universe and her staff are a more serious issue and her conduct unbecoming of a celebrity of her status is being condemned all over India.
The staff of miss Olivia Culpo, are adamant that they did not indulge in any illegal activity, and if her act has hurt the feelings of the Indian public, it was not intended so and all happened because of lack of ignorance of the fact that one is to enter the historic monument bare foot. Further her spokeswoman, an Indian, added that she only photographed with the branded shoes not inside the building but outside, on a marble ledge named Diana seat after the late princess, when she visited the Taj Mahal back in 1992. And as this marble seat is in the lawn outside the Taj Mahal, hence Miss Universe is not culpable.
But the majority of people, whether of Indian origin or not are questioning the fact how could something like this happen when the main member of her staff was an Indian; someone fully aware of the implications of what could happen if such a step was taken by a celebrity of the status of Miss Universe. They argue that the Miss Universe is a role model for all the women all over the world, and if she flaunts the rules and regulations, what kind of impression she have on all those people who follow her.
Most people of India are not impressed by her spokeswoman’s defense of her actions and are demanding a public apology on her part. They stress the valid fact that Olivia Culpo must be aware of the religious and the cultural norms of different peoples and regions of the world, if she is really to justify her status as Miss Universe.
This whole controversy started when Olivia Culpo uploaded one of her pictures taken during the Taj Mahal shoot on instagram. Had she been discrete about it , this incident would never have blown up into an unwanted and unnecessary controversy. Now the only wise thing to do as far as Miss Universe is considered, is to seek forgiveness of the Indian public.
An Op-ed written by: Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada