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Are you ready for the Indian Super Bowl aka the Scripps National Spelling Bee?

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Scripps National Spelling Bee

Nihar Janga and Jairam Hathwar celebrate as co-champions during the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Indian American comedian Hari Kondabolu, once famously called the Scripps Spelling Bee the ‘Indian Super Bowl‘. While funny, it was also an apt comparison. When fans tuned into ESPN last year to watch the Scripps National Spelling Bee, they were shocked by the victory of 11-year-old Nihar Janga, a fifth grader who was making his inaugural appearance in the tournament.

But for seasoned veterans of the tournament, he was hardly an enigma.

To the tight-knit community of competitors who keep track of performances in the weeks and days leading up to the tournament, Nihar was who they thought he was: a seasoned competitor with an impressive resume and a threat to win it all.

As the bee has become increasingly more competitive throughout the years, fewer winners have emerged from the shadows to hoist the trophy. The information available on competitors is nearly at the fingertips of every other competitor, and champion spellers have increasingly fit a familiar profile. For them, the bee is an all-consuming, year-round pursuit.

“There’s definitely an established set of favorites, and as you have more well-known spelling bees to compete in, you have more barometers of how well people are going to do,” said Mitchell Robson, 15, who finished 7th in last year’s bee. “There’s usually one or two people you see coming out of nowhere every year, but it’s definitely very difficult to have more than that. … Last year, Nihar Janga definitely did not come of nowhere.”

Nihar was regarded as a threat because, the previous summer, he had finished second in the North South Foundation spelling bee. The nonprofit foundation hosts national competitions for Indian-Americans in a variety of academic fields. The last 10 National Spelling Bee winners have participated in the foundation’s spelling bee, and 17 of the past 21 champions have been Indian-American. Also, three of the nine kids who’ve won the South Asian Spelling Bee have gone on to win the Scripps bee.

Two years ago, Vanya Shivashankar and Gokul Venkatachalam easily withstood the pressure of being labeled co-favorites and shared the title. And last year, Nihar was co-champion with Jairam Hathwar, a seasoned speller whose older brother himself shared the title with Ansun in 2014.

For this year’s bee, which starts Tuesday, three spellers are consensus favorites: Shourav Dasari, a past North South Foundation and South Asian Spelling Bee champion whose older sister came close several times; Siyona Mishra, who won last year’s South Asian bee and finished 9th in her only National Spelling Bee appearance; and Tejas Muthusamy, who’s making his fourth appearance, with two previous top-10 finishes.

Even if one of the favorites ends up winning, the bee still has plenty of surprises. Last year, Shourav was also highly touted, but he misspelled a word and fell just short of the prime-time finals. And incase you are forgetting the youngest-ever contestant of the Scripps Spelling Bee Finals from 2016, Akash Vukoti, here he is giving Steve Harvey a run for his money:

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India agrees to supply Hydroxychloroquine to U.S.

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Hydroxychloroquine

WASHINGTON (Diya TV)  — India confirmed they will fulfill the order the U.S. made for hydroxychloroquine, just a couple of days after they banned all exports of the malaria treatment without exception. President Trump and Prime Minister Modi spoke about keeping the supply chain intact over the weekend. And India says the U.S. purchase was approved before President Trump said there would be ‘retaliation’ if the drug was not released, medicine that is being used to treat coronavirus patients without definitive evidence it works. India says they have enough hydroxychloroquine stock for its people today, but reserves the right to hold back the supply if their COVID-19 caseload increases.

One day after he defended firing Captain Brett Crozier from command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt by calling him “stupid,” Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned. Modly was severely criticized for firing Crozier, after the captain wrote an alarming letter seeking faster assistance for his sailors exposed to COVID-19 on board, a letter that was leaked to the press.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Trump calls on Modi to supply Hydroxychloroquine

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Trump

WASHINGTON (Diya TV)  — President Trump spoke to Prime Minister Modi over the weekend about how the two nations would combat the coronavirus, with a focus on ensuring the supply chain for pharmaceuticals and medical goods continues. But at a press conference, when informed India had banned the export of the drug hydroxychloroquine “without any exceptions,” Trump threatened retaliation. Hydroxychloroquine is typically used to treat malaria, but some COVID-19 patients have found it helpful. And the President has been touting it during his press conferences, without a clinical trial proving if it is indeed effective. India provides nearly half of America’s supply of the medicine. It is not clear whether India’s ban would apply to orders already placed.

Prime Minister Modi called on his nation to unite in the battle against COVID-19 by lighting diyas for 9 minutes at 9 pm Sunday night. Millions of people around India took part, which is now entering its third week of being mandated to stay at home to stop the spread of the virus.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Trump tells India to supply hydroxychloroquine or face ‘retaliation’

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Trump

During a White House Press briefing, President Trump recounted having a conversation with Indian Prime Minister Modi Sunday morning about the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. When informed by reporters that Modi was unlikely to release to any nation hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria that may be helpful in treating COVID-19, Trump responded in shock, stating that he didn’t like the plan and that he would be surprised if this was the Prime Minister’s decision due to India’s strong economic ties with the United States in the trade sector. Trump stated that this course of action wouldn’t be consequence free, and that there may be retaliation in response. 

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