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Harnaaz Sandhu Is New Miss Universe, Brings Back Crown To India After 21 Years

New Delhi: India’s Harnaaz Sandhu has been crowned Miss Universe, 21 years after Lara Dutta won the title in 2000.

Harnaaz represented India at the 70th Miss Universe 2021, held in Eilat, Israel.

The 21-year-old from Punjab claimed the crown, beating Paraguay’s Nadia Ferreira and South Africa’s Lalela Mswane.

Andrea Meza, former Miss Universe 2020 from Mexico, crowned Harnaaz in the Israeli Red Sea resort town. The pageant was held in the middle of the night, wrapping up at 5 am local time to accommodate the primetime schedule in the US.

Harnaaz is now the 70th Miss Universe and third Indian to have won the title. Before the Chandigarh-based model, only two Indians have won the Miss Universe title — actors Sushmita Sen in 1994 and Lara Dutta in 2000.

Asked what advice she would give to young women, Harnaaz said, “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,” Harnaaz said.

Harnaaz began her pageantry career at age 17. She was crowned Miss Diva 2021, Femina Miss India Punjab 2019 and placed in Top 12 at Femina Miss India 2019.