The heated debate started after the Times of India released a collage of headshots of the women, which was retweeted by an Indian Twitter user asking rhetorically: “What is wrong with this picture?”
A row has since ensued among soil media users accusing the pageant of promoting women with “lighter skin” and even altering images of the pageant beauties to make them look whiter.
“To be Miss India you literally only have to be light or fair skinned, what a tragic white washed competition,” one person wrote on online.
Another tweeted: “This is “Miss White India” competition. Can’t you see ???!!”
One offended Twitter user also called for more diversity in general in the pageant: “They all have the same hair, and the SAME SKIN COLOUR, and I’m going to hazard a guess that their heights and vital stats will also be similar. So much for India being a ‘diverse’ country.”
Another agreed, asking why Miss India couldn’t “be a dusky or dark brown or darker chocolate brown?”
But a representative of the pageant, its grooming expert Shamita Singha defended the image, saying it had been retouched because the contestants had looked “like plastic”.
She told the BBC: ”This is not the skin tones of the actual pictures.”
India has a history of people lightening skin because it is considered more beautiful.
The sales of skin cream product ‘Fair and Lovely’ remains a consistently high-selling product among people hoping to lighten their complexion.
Top Bollywood stars have even come under fire in the past for promoting these types of products.