VIJAYAWADA: Nina Davuluri was on Sunday night crowned Miss America-2013 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The 24-year-old Miss New York is the first contestant of Indian origin to become Miss America.
Nina’s family hails from Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh and the city is busy celebrating Nina’s victory. Her maternal grandmother V Koteshwaramma, who runs the Montessori group of institutions was elated at her grand daughter’s feat. Her mother Shiela Ranjani and her father Koteswara Chowdhary, both of whom are doctors, had migrated to the US in the early 80s and Nina was born and brought up in America.
Soon after the news of her being crowned broke early in the morning, the girl students at Montessori Mahila Kalasala celebrated her success. “I am not surprised. She is a dedicated person and I was always confident that she would go places,” Koteswaramma said.
The proud grandmother’s residence at Moghalrajapuram wore a festive look on Monday morning as it was packed with visitors and family friends who had come to congratulate Nina’s grandmother.
Nina grew up in a family of doctors. Apart from her parents, her maternal aunt and uncle are also doctors and so is her elder sister Meena, who is studying medicine in the US. Her paternal uncles are also doctors in the US.
“In fact, Nina also wanted to pursue medicine and wanted to become a cardiologist. However, she has ended up winning the Miss America title,” Koteswaramma said. According to her, Nina is a fan of Telugu films and Telugu culture and is trained in Kuchipudi and Bharatha Natyam.
Nina’s father Koteswara Chowdary shifted to the US soon after his marriage in 1981 and went on to become a gynaecologist. Nina’s mother Sheila Ranjani is continuing on the board of Montessori Kalasala as vice-president and visits the city at least once in two years. Nina herself came down to the city in 2007, soon after becoming first runners-up in Miss America’s Miss Teen contest.
However, except for Koteswaramma’s close family circle, a very few in the city had heard of Nina till she was crowned Miss America. Recalling how her granddaughter struggled before achieving this success, Koteswaramma said Nina had to overcome two obstacles – asthma and obesity. “I can only say that Nina will not stop here,” she said.
Nina was born at Syracuse in US but the family moved to Oklahoma when she was four and from there to Michigan in 2000. Nina’s family is now residing in Fayetteville, where her father
Koteswara Chowdary is a gynaecologist at St Joseph’s Hospital. Nina is a graduate of brain behaviour and cognitive science from Michigan University.
Earlier, a Vijayawada girl, Gadde Sindhoora had won the ‘Femina Miss India’ title and reached the Miss World semi-finals in 2005.
Racist tweets mar sweet moment for Nina Davuluri, first Miss America of Indian origin
WASHINGTON: The tiara had barely been placed on her head and the customary tears of joy had just emerged when racist taunts erupted on social media, marring the moment of triumph for the first ever Miss America of Indian origin.
“And the Arab wins Miss America. Classic,” tweeted @Granvil_Colt minutes after the usual final flourish ended in the crowning of Indian-American Nina Davuluri, the current Miss New York, as the new Miss America. ”Ummm wtf? Have we forgotten 9/11?” asked @anthonytkr, associating her with the terrorist attack on the United States. Some called her Miss Al Qaida and others dubbed her Miss Terrorist. ”How the f*** does a foreigner win miss America? She is a Arab!” followed up @jakeamick5.
Davuluri, for the record, is very much American, but of Indian origin, just as sundry racist tweeple are of European and Caucasian extract. Daughter of Indian immigrants from Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh, she was born in Syracuse, New York, and grew up in Oklahoma and Michigan.
But in a flaming demonstration that an egalitarian, non-discriminatory United States, like with India, is a work in progress, bigotry and bias kept popping up on social media for hours after the event. Mindless racist stereotyping raced ahead of the ideals professed by many Americans.
”Miss America? You mean Miss 7-11,” sneered racist individual, referring to the widespread ownership and management of convenience stores by people of Indian-origin. ”Miss America is brought to by their sponsors PF Changs and 7-11,” jeered another.
It’s another matter that the Davuluris fit the Indian-American profile of what the U.S Census says is the academically most-accomplished and highest-earning ethnic group in the United States, ”native” white Americans included. Nina’s father Davuluri Koteshwara Choudhary, who migrated to the US in 1981, is a gynecologist in Fayetteville, New York; Nina herself has a degree in Brain Behaviour and Cognitive Science from the University of Michigan, and aspires to be a cardiologist, a goal for which she pledged the $50,000 prize money she won with her crown.
Such accomplishments were lost on a bigoted minority that, as usual, raked up US President Obama’s background, calling both him and the new Miss America Muslims, questioning their ”American-ness” and loyalty to the US.
The attacks embarrassed many Americans. ”Wow the hate that has come out since an Indian American won #MissAmerica is sad. Guess we haven’t come that far after all,” someone tweeted apologetically. Some Indians lashed back. ”Dear America, be the racist you want to be but at least get your geography right,” read one tweet, mocking the inability of bigots to distinguish between countries and regions.
Miss Davuluri herself preferred to stay above the muck, telling the Associated Press that she always viewed herself as first and foremost American.
”I’m so happy this organization has embraced diversity… I’m thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America,” she said during her victory press conference.
In fact, two of the runners-up this year, Crystal Lee and Rebecca Yeh, boast of Asian roots, in keeping with the growing number of minority children being born in the US. ”Thankfully the days of peroxide blonde Barbie dolls dominating the pageant are long gone,” Time magazine observed in its report.
The controversy is also a godsend for the Miss America pageant, which returned to its original home in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and television home on ABC, after it had been sidelined in the US in recent years. Davuluri, competing under the platform ”celebrating diversity through cultural competency,” is the first Indian-American to win the crown since the pageant began in 1921.
Contestants were judged on the basis of evening gowns, lifestyle/fitness, talent, a personal interview and an live on-stage question. Davuluri was asked about the wisdom of a TV anchor getting plastic surgery on her eyes to alter her appearance. She said she’s against plastic surgery, but people should make their own choice and be confident in their appearances.
For the talent part, she chose a classical Bollywood fusion dance piece, capitalizing on her formal training in Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi.