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Miss India brings home Miss Universe crown after 21 years

The number 21 seems to be the lucky charm right now as Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu bagged the Miss Universe 2021 title, 21 years after Indian actress Lara Dutta won it.

The 21-year-old model and actress, hailing from the city of Chandigarh, beat 79 other contestants to rise to the top. She was crowned by her predecessor, Miss Universe 2020 Andrea Meza of Mexico, in an electrifying and emotional moment that’s gone viral on the Internet. 

The deciding question, asked in typical fashion by Steve Harvey, was about what advice Sandhu would give to the young women watching on how to deal with the pressures of modern life.

“I think the biggest pressure the youth today is facing is to believe in themselves,” underlined Sandhu, adding that the youth must take charge to lead themselves. 

The Twitterverse and general social sphere has erupted with reactions, especially the Indian diaspora. 

“The highlight was how Sandhu answered the last question,” said Sanya Ghani, a 28-year-old consultant and resident of Dubai. “She nailed that one.” 

“I feel proud as an Indian,” said Mirza Mohammed Baig, a 22-year-old engineer. 

Feelings of pride and joy are resonant among the Indian expatriates, having witnessed this moment twice before with Lara Dutta and the first winner, Sushmita Sen. 

The 70th edition of the historic pageant took place at the Universe Dome in Eilat, Israel. The event was finally held after braving dangerous odds like a world-wide pandemic and the threat of an ever-evolving virus to see a fierce two-week battle of beauty and brains. 

Miss Paraguay Nadia Ferreira and Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane finished as first and second runner-ups, respectively. 

The event also saw first-time participant Madar Nadeem Deyani of Bahrain. The 25-year-old fashion design student made waves during the preliminary swimsuit round for dropping the conventional swimsuit and wearing a black jumpsuit. She walked the stage covered from head to toe, making a bold statement about her beliefs and culture. 

An avid reader and writer, Manaal is known for her passion for telling stories. This passion results in her reading everywhere, on the metro, bus, and even in her dreams. In the rare instance, she isn't absorbed in a book, she can be found cuddling with cats, sleeping, and collecting an obscene amount of shoes.

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