NEW DELHI: India’s Harnaaz Sandhu has been crowned the 70th Miss Universe, 21 years after Lara Dutta won the title in 2000.
The 21-year-old beauty queen beat contestants Paraguay and South Africa to win the coveted title at the contest held in Eilat, Israel. Sandhu was presented the crown by Andrea Meza, former Miss Universe 2020 from Mexico.
During the final question round, where the contestants were asked a poignant question, Sandhu, 21, was asked, “What advice would you give to young women watching on how to deal with the pressures they face today?”
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Harnaaz had quite an inspiring answer to the question. “Well, I think the biggest pressure the youth of today is facing is to believe in themselves. To know that you are unique and that’s what makes you beautiful, stop comparing yourselves with others, and let’s talk about more important things that’s happening worldwide.”
“This is what you need to understand. Come out, speak for yourselves because you are the leader of your life, you are the voice of your own. I believed in myself and that’s why I am standing here today,” Ms Sandhu said with aplomb.
Harnaaz beat 79 other contestants – including runner-up Miss Paraguay and second runner-up Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane – from various countries, to claim the prestigious title.
Before the Chandigarh-based model, only two Indians have won the title of Miss Universe – actors Sushmita Sen in 1994 and Lara Dutta in 2000.
Ms Sandhu, who started her journey in pageantry at the age of 17, has previously been crowned Miss Diva 2021, Femina Miss India Punjab 2019 and was even placed in the Top 12 at Femina Miss India 2019.