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Meet Karthik Nemmani, the wild card entry and the winner of the 91st Spelling Bee Champion

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Karthik Nemmani surrounded by family, holding his Championship Trophy (Photo: Scripps Spelling Bee)

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Spelling the word, ‘koinonia’ correctly, the wild card program beneficiary Karthik Nemmani became the 91st Spelling Bee Champion. Hailing from the town of McKinney, Texas, the 14 year-old defeated the heavily favored Naysa Modi, a four-time competitor who beat him in a Texas county bee battle earlier this year. Nemmani continues the streak of Indian American Spelling Bee Champions to 11 years in a row.

This year, there was a record number of 516 spellers, mostly because of the new wild card program. This program, RSVBee, let 238 spellers into the national bee, especially if they were from very competitive spelling areas, like Dallas, where Nemmani lives. Naysa Modi, a fellow Texan speller, won the county and regional bee and therefore eliminated spellers including Karthik Nemmani and Abhijay Kodali, who ranked third place. In addition to enabling others to qualify, this helped the Spelling Bee diversify the pool of candidates. In total, 855 applicants applied.

When asked about the fact that the wild card contestants had a $750 entry fee, Karthik’s dad, Krishna Nemmani, said, “I don’t care. I know his caliber,”
Karthik’s early life was much like other spellers. His dad said that when he was 3, Karthik arranged block letters to spell horse and won his first spelling bee at the age of 4½ years.

Karthik is from McKinney, Texas — his family moved there specifically so he could go to a school that takes part in the Scripps program. Naysa is from Frisco, less than 15 miles to the west. And third-place finisher Abhijay Kodali lives in Flower Mound, another 40 miles west.

Adam Symson, president and CEO of The E.W. Scripps Company, presented the championship trophy moments before ESPN signed off from the 91st Scripps National Spelling Bee. “Karthik showcased not only broad knowledge of the English language but also incredible poise under pressure,” said Symson. “This is a grueling competition that takes years of preparation and then challenges the participants all week long. Karthik handled it with grace and maturity. The Scripps National Spelling Bee is a national treasure, and we take great pride each year in seeing the inspiration it brings to audiences across the U.S. – and the world.”

“I didn’t really think I’d be able to do it. I had confidence that I could do it, but I honestly didn’t realistically think it could happen,” Nemmani said softly.

As the two Texans remained, Modi misspelled ‘bewusstseinslage,’ and Karthik had to spell two words correctly, including the final word koinonia, to be crowned the 2018 winner.

23 of the 41 finalists were Indian American. The last three standing were all from Texas, a major spelling area, and Indian American hub. The reoccurrence of Indian American champions has received some backlash with disparaging tweets like “we need an American to win this spelling bee #tiredofindians,”

Grace Walters, his 16 year-old coach, is the one Karthik credits for his achievement. She said to TIME Magazine that it was a lot different when she competed. Now, computers enable students to do much more. Karthik also had help from Shobna Dasari, a former competitor, and her younger brother Shourav, who finished fourth in 2017. But most of all, Karthik trained day and night, using excel spreadsheets and vocabulary quizzes.

Nemmani praised the runner-up Modi’s hard work and skill, saying, “She’s a really, really good speller. She deserved the trophy as much as I did. I got lucky.” Although he knew how to spell bewussseinslage, he humbly admitted that he did not know about eight or nine words in the finals.

Nemmani sacrificed tennis, a hobby of his, for the spelling bee. Little did he know that it would result in a championship victory & over $42,000 in prizes.

Naysa, on the other hand, accepted her loss gracefully and let everyone know she would be back.

All in all, every speller worked hard for the Spelling Bee. Nemmani, with help from the new wild card program, was able to take the title and become the 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion.

Business

New Zealand eliminates India in cricket World Cup

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New Zealand wins Cricket

MANCHESTER, England (Diya TV) — After a rain delay stopped play between New Zealand and India, when play resumed, the Kiwis held on to win by 18 runs, knocking India out of the Cricket World Cup. It’s on to the championship round for New Zealand.

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided an Indian restaurant in Washington DC, detaining several employees.

Airbnb, the Silicon Valley couchsurfing startup turned hospitality behemoth, says they made a direct economic impact of around $150 million in India in 2018.

Indian Airbnb hosts collectively made almost $28 million and welcomed nearly 800,000 guests last year. 

Chennai-based speech recognition startup, Uniphore Software Systems, raised $38 million as part of its Series C round. They’ve received funding from California venture capital firm March Capital Partners and former Cisco CEO John Chambers. 

And Indo-Australian Priya Serrao was crowned Miss Universe Australia 2019.

The 26-year-old policy advisor from the state of Victoria said she will use her new platform to promote multiculturalism. 

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Business

Trump says tariffs by India are ‘No longer acceptable’

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Tariffs no longer acceptable

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — In a tweet, President Trump targeted India once again, saying “India has long had a field day putting Tariffs on American products. No longer acceptable.”

Yet earlier this year, the Trump administration stripped India of a preferential status that exempted billions of dollars worth of products from U.S. levies.

One of the most unique characters ever to run for President has died. Billionaire businessman Ross Perot was 89. Many give his independent campaign in 1992 credit for helping Bill Clinton beat incumbent George H.W. Bush.

A day after Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell got out of the race, another billionaire businessman, Tom Steyer, jumped into the Presidential fray.

India’s OlaCabs recently launched its ride-sharing services in London. And now Ola Electric, their electric vehicle spinoff, just raised a $250 million Series B round at a $1 billion valuation. It plans to bring 10,000 vehicles to the road this year.

And the world will have to wait another day to find out who will play for the Cricket World Cup, after a rain delay stopped play between New Zealand and India.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Arts & Culture

US India trade talks resume after G20 summit, in New Delhi

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US-India Trade Talks

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — India and the U.S. will resume bilateral trade talks in New Delhi next week. These talks continue the dialog established by Indian Prime Minister Modi and President Trump at the Osaka G20 Summit last week.

Sikh activists launched a petition asking Presidential candidate and California Senator Kamala Harris to apologize for supporting employment discrimination against a Sikh job applicant in 2011 during her tenure as California’s attorney general.

A report by Bloomberg says Boeing turned to Indian-based subcontractors who were paid as little $9 per hour for work on the U.S. planemaker’s beleaguered 737 Max aircraft.

Mahmud Jamal is now a Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, becoming the 4th ever South Asian federal appellate judge in Canada.

A group of South Asian filmmakers including Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap and actors like Anupam Kher and Archie Panjabi are among the 842 people invited to become members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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