Today, on May 3, an industrious and visionary personality was born in India. He, through his actions, proved that if you are determined to bring a positive change then instead of talking about it, you need to start acting. This multifaceted person excelled in every field he entered, and his achievements received great appreciation and honours at national as well as global levels. He is the man who brought a new dawn in male pageantry and began the era of great innovations that catapulted India’s male pageant sector to newer heights. He broke several long-prevailing misconceptions and rudimentary notions associated with the male pageant industry and made it more diverse and inclusive. He is the vice-president of one of the biggest male pageants in the world – Rubaru Mr. India, Pankaj Kharbanda. Under his leadership, the male pageant industry received a massive boost in India and became one of the biggest and most successful pageant fraternities in the world.
As Pankaj Kharbanda celebrates his birthday today, let’s have a look at his journey and the contributions he made that made India home to one of the most successful male pageant industries in the world. This highly educated and well-accomplished Indian entrepreneur is based in the city of dreams – Mumbai. Hailing from the national capital city – New Delhi, Pankaj Kharbanada completed his master’s degree in business administration from the University of London before beginning his multifarious career as a culinary artist and later a finance executive. These diverse career choices and the determination to excel in different sectors took him to the United States and later, ended-up making him the first vice-president of Rubaru Mr. India championship.
The 1990’s marked the dawn of male pageantry. Back then male pageants were mostly about the superficial traits and qualities of the participants. It was the era that produced several phenomenal faces that went on to achieve international recognition. However, the options for Indian men in the pageant world were very limited. Moreover, these options were available to a very limited number of aspirants. Sometimes due to lack of knowledge and opportunities, and sometimes due to the stereotypical conventions of a male pageant winner, several Indian men could not join a male pageant event – be it national or regional. However, this long prevailing trend was broken by Pankaj Kharbanda when decided to make India’s male pageant industry more inclusive and diverse. He brought about several reforms in India’s male pageant sector and revolutionized the stereotypical image of a Mr. India winner. It was under his leadership, Indian male pageantry produced several well-spoken and highly popular Mr. India titleholders that went on to make India proud at the global level.
Under Pankaj Kharbanda’s leadership, the Rubaru Mr. India championship reached even the farthest areas that remained untouched by the pageantry since its inception. In 2021, for the very first time, three Northeastern states produced their very first Mr. India titleholders – Tseteej Shiwakoty, Tumken Sora and Songashim Rungsung became the very first Mr. India winners from Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur respectively. It was a historic event in Indian pageantry when all three participants from the Northeast went onto secure the highest titles. Other major changes that he introduced in the male pageantry include participation of differently abled candidate(s), as he believes talent has no boundaries and every individual has the right to show his talent to the world; he also introduced the Best National Costume segment in the championship which was the first of its kind to take place in Indian male pageantry and the new eligibility criteria of selection that opened doors for several new candidates from all walks of life.
Pankaj Kharbanda’s contributions to the male pageant sector were also acknowledged and appreciated by international pageant fraternities and he was honored with Best National Director award in Latin America last year (2021). Today, Rubaru Mr. India pageant is associated with the maximum number of state level as well as international male pageants. It also holds the record of receiving the maximum number of candidates competing at the national finals. It the largest contributor to India’s male pageant sector, occupying more than 70% space in the market and one of the biggest and most successful contributors to international male pageantry.