India’s Harnaaz Sandhu crowned Miss Universe 2021

Miss World 2021 Ms india

Harnaaz Sandhu is the new Miss Universe 2021!

The 21-year-old from Punjab, representing India at the 70th Miss Universe 2021, held in Eilat, Israel, brought home the crown, 21 years after Lara Dutta won the title in 2000.

She edged out contestants Paraguay and South Africa to claim the crown.
Sandhu was presented the crown by Andrea Meza, former Miss Universe 2020 from Mexico at the event which was live-streamed globally.

The first and the second runners-up were Paraguay and South Africa respectively.

As part of the top three rounds, the contestants were asked,

“What advice would you give to young women watching on how to deal with the pressures they face today”

To this, Harnaaz said, “The biggest pressure the youth of today is facing, is to believe in themselves. To know that you are unique makes you beautiful. Stop comparing yourselves with others and let’s talk about more important things that are happening worldwide. Come out, speak for yourself, because you are the leader of your life. You are the voice of your own. I believed in myself and that is why I am standing here today.”

Run-up controversies

Calls to boycott Miss Universe in protest of Israeli government policies also gained attention around the world — even in Greece, which saw a row between Rafaela Plastira, the winner of Miss World Greece 2019, and Star GS Hellas, the organization that selects the country’s Miss Universe participant.

Plastira said in October she “could not go up on the stage, acting like nothing is happening when people are fighting for their lives [in Israel and Palestine].” 

But last week, Star GS Hellas said Plastira was not Greece’s entry in Miss Universe 2021 and “never had the blessing to represent our country.” The organization added that Sofia Arapogianni was “the official Miss Universe Greece for 2021.”