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Harnaaz Sandhu of India crowned Miss Universe 2021

By PhilSTAR L!fe Published Dec 13, 2021 11:03 am Updated Dec 13, 2021 1:34 pm

Harnaaz Sandhu of India has been crowned as the winner of the 70th Miss Universe pageant in Eilat, Israel on Monday, Dec 13 (Philippine time). 

Sandhu succeeded Andrea Meza of Mexico and bested 79 other candidates from all over the world as the new Miss Universe

Nadia Ferreira of Paraguay is first runner-up, while Lalela Mswane of South Africa is named second runner-up.

Philippine bet Beatrice Luigi Gomez managed to make it to the Top 5, but did not make the cut after the pageant’s question and answer portion.

India had earlier won the coveted crown twice with Sushmita Sen bagging the title in 1994 and Lara Dutta in 2000. The 21-year-old Harnaaz has now joined the league of these iconic women.

Based on her Miss Universe profile, Harnaaz reportedly draws inspiration from her mother, who broke generations of patriarchy to become a successful gynecologist and led her family.  

Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu (Miss India) poses for photos after winning the 70th Miss Universe beauty pageant in Israel's southern Red Sea coastal city of Eilat on Dec. 13, 2021. Menahem KAHANA / AFP

Driven to support other women the same way, Harnaaz grew up working with her mother at health camps addressing women's health and menstrual hygiene.

Deeply conscious of the privilege her mother's struggles have gifted her, Harnaaz is also a strong advocate for women's empowerment, particularly their constitutional rights to education, careers, and their freedom of choice. 

As an actor, Harnaaz hopes to play characters that break stereotypes about women. Her favorite actor is Priyanka Chopra, the winner of the Miss World 2000 pageant and is one of one India’s highest-paid entertainers.

In her downtime, Harnaaz enjoys hanging out with friends, doing yoga, dancing, cooking, horse riding, playing chess, and swimming in the pool.

Under “fun facts” of her Miss Universe profile, Harnaaz states:

- I mimic almost anyone including animals,
- I am a close singer
- I love writing couplets in my mother tongue Punjabi.

During the Top 16 announcement, Harnaaz was asked to do a cat impersonation by Steve Harvey, to which she gamely indulged. (Chuck Smith)