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Texas 8th grader Indian American Pranay Varada wins National Geographic Bee

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Pranay Varada
Pranay Varada

Host Mo Rocca applauds at center as Thomas Wright, 14, of Milwaukee, Wis., left, congratulates Pranay Varada, 14, of Carrollton, Texas, on winning the 2017 National Geographic Bee, Wednesday, May 17, 2017, at the National Geographic Society in Washington.

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Pranay Varada was haunted by his performance in last year’s National Geographic Bee, where he infamously flubbed the official language of Sierra Leone — it’s English; he answered French — and finished in sixth place. Determined to overcome the adversity of the tournament during his final year of eligibility, Varada began studying for his resurgence on that very same day last year.

He’s spent the last year skipping school field trips and birthday parties to study spreadsheets he created with dossiers on every country in the world.

Varada’s hard work paid off on Wednesday: he stood on stage with a medal around his neck, accepting congratulations and prizes including a $50,000 scholarship.

“It was extreme disappointment, to get all the way up here and not win,” he said after the win. “I was researching and trying to find ways to not make the same mistakes twice.”

Varada, who lives in Texas, bested his opponent, who himself was also a top-10 finisher in last year’s tournament, Thomas Wright of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While it was Varada who had the best score through most of the two-hour competition, Wright gave him a scare when he pulled even by providing a more thorough answer to an essay-type question about a country that would be well-suited for resettling residents of the Maldives displaced by rising sea levels.

During the championship rounds, both boys got all five questions correct, but only after Pranay successfully challenged an answer that was initially deemed wrong. The question was about a mountain range between northern Vietnam and Laos; Pranav identified it as the Annamite Range and not the Annam Mountains.

“I was absolutely sure I could win that challenge,” he said.

With that, the Bee moved into sudden death. Varada won on the first tiebreaker question, correctly identifying the Kunlun Mountains as the 1,200-mile range that separates the Taklimakan Desert from the Tibetan Plateau.

Varada’s parents, who immigrated to the United States from India in the late 1990s, said they were mostly hands-off about preparing him for the bee, although his mother quizzed him with questions from his spreadsheets.

“There’s no way you can push a kid to learn geography,” said his father, Praveen Rao. “He’s very methodical and planned everything out.”

With his win, Varada becomes the sixth consecutive Indian-American to win the National Geographic Bee. The past 10 champions of the National Spelling Bee have also been Indian-American. But unlike many of those winners, Pranay did not participate heavily in bees run by the North South Foundation, an Indian-American nonprofit that serves as a training ground for a variety of academic competitions. The National Geographic Bee has been his competitive focus since fourth grade, when he finished second in the Texas state bee.

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Indiaspora releases 2021 government leaders list featuring over 200 members of Indian diaspora

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Indiaspora Releases 2021 Government Leaders List | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Nonprofit Indiaspora released their list recognizing more than 200 members of the Indian diaspora who are leaders in their countries’ governments. The leaders span the globe, with more than 60 holding Cabinet-level positions.

More than 32 million people of Indian origin live outside of India, the largest diaspora population in the world.

After entertaining pitches from a number of Indian states, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa declared Tesla will set up its Indian production in his state. An electric vehicle pioneer, analysts forecast India could generate 5% of Tesla’s revenue in the next 5 years.

The late Indian American scientist Narinder Singh Kapany, the father of fiber optics, received a posthumous Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest award. Singh died last year at the age of 94.

An Indian physicist’s revolutionary Black Hole research is turning 50 years old. C.V. Vishveshwara died in 2017, but his work lives on and continues to be honored. The Indian Association for General Relativity and Gravitation and The International Centre for Theoretical Sciences held an event in India to discuss the implications of Vishveshwara’s breakthrough. And now colleagues in his field around the world continue to be astounded at his research. Building off the work of Albert Einstein, Vishveshwara found that Black Holes had a structure, and if you banged on it, would vibrate like a bell. He first published this finding in the science journal “Nature.”

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Search continues for 12 yr old Arunay Pruthi lost at sea.

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One Month Since Arunay Pruthi’s Loss At Sea | Diya TV News

FREMONT, Calif. (Diya TV)  — It’s been a month since 12 year old Arunay Pruthi disappeared off the California coast. And while his family and their Fremont neighbors are devastated by his apparent loss, they continue to hold out hope they will find out what happened to the 7th grader. Pruthi was caught by dangerous surf at Cowell Ranch State Beach in Half Moon Bay and his father said he just drifted away. Despite hundreds of volunteers scouring the area, Pruthi hasn’t been seen since. There is a $50,000 reward for information leading to his discovery.

31 year old Ashwani Jain announced he’s running to become Maryland’s next governor. The Democrat recently ran unsuccessfully for Montgomery, Maryland City Council. He’s also a former Obama administration official.

Sean Desai made history, as he was named the Chicago Bears new defensive coordinator, making him the first Indian American ever to receive a coordinator job in the NFL. The 37 year old served as an assistant coach for several years before this promotion. Desai started his coaching career at Temple University, where he also received a doctorate in educational administration.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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UN: Avoid Pakistani airlines over fake pilot licence scandal

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UN: Avoid Pakistani Airlines Over Fake Pilot Scandal | Diya TV News

SANTA CLARA (Diya TV) — The United Nations is telling its staff and partner agencies to avoid flying on all Pakistani airlines as the country continues to deal with a fake pilot license scandal. The warning means UN staff in Pakistan will be unable to fly internationally or domestically with these airlines, creating a travel nightmare.

The National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers is increasing its stake in soccer club Leeds United to 37 percent. And Indian American Paraag Marathe has been tapped to become Vice Chairman of the English Premier League team. Marathe will lead day to day operations and be more involved in the decision making process. The executive is still the 49ers Vice President of Football Operations, essentially the right hand man to owner Jed York.

As more foreign companies turn their backs on the United States, China and India are taking advantage. Direct investment in the US by overseas companies plummeted 49 percent last year according to a recent study. China’s grew by four percent to $163 billion. In India, foreign direct investment skyrocketed 13 percent last year to $57 billion. Policies allowing more foreign companies like Ikea and Uniqlo to open stores and increasing the country’s manufacturing base are some of the reasons for this growth.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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