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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.

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Images show China building a development on Indian border

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Images show China developing border area by Bhutan, India | Diya TV News

CHINA-BHUTAN border (Diya TV) — New satellite images appear to show China built a development in the Himalayas along the border with India and Bhutan that was the site of a standoff in 2017.

Satellite images last month from US-based Maxar Technologies show there’s been construction all year long, including new military storage bunkers.

Chinese officials say the buildup was within the scope of their sovereignty. China and Bhutan, who do not have diplomatic relations, both lay claim to that Doklam region.

Vice President-Elect Joe Biden officially introduced his nominee for Secretary of State Tony Blinken, a veteran of the Obama Administration. Blinken during an Indian Independence Day event held by the Biden-Harris campaign said strengthening ties with India is a high-priority of the new administration. We’ll profile his career and what US-India ties will look like with him at the helm.

Watch what Blinken had to say during that campaign event here: https://youtu.be/8VjMkEZLiP0?t=960

A stone statue of Hindu goddess Maa Annapoorna stolen more than a century ago and found in Canada will be returned to India. The statue is believed to be originally from Varanasi.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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U.S., India, Japan & Australia complete Malabar exercise

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U.S., India, Japan & Australia complete Malabar exercise | Diya TV News

MALABAR ISLANDS, India (Diya TV) — Maritime forces from the U.S., India, Japan and Australia completed Phase II of the exercises dubbed Malabar in the Arabian Sea. The U.S. State Department thanked India in a tweet for hosting the effort by “The Quad” that promotes a free and open Indo-Pacific against a growing Chinese presence in the region.

The state of Michigan officially certified its election, formally granting President-Elect Biden its 16 electoral votes. And while President Trump continues to litigate in the hopes of overturning the outcome of the election, to date, he’s lost more than 30 cases. And now the General Services Administration informed the President-Elect he will be able to get the funding and documents needed  to start the formal transition in government.

Indian American Mala Adiga was appointed by President-Elect Joe Biden to be the Policy Director for his wife Jill, who will be the First Lady. Adiga is an alum of the Obama administration, as well as the Biden Foundation.

Pakistani American Dr. Umair Shah was appointed by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to be Washington State’s Secretary of Health. Shah currently serves as executive director and local health authority for Harris County Public Health in Texas. 

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Modi thanks troops for thwarting terror plot

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Modi thanks troops for thwarting terror plot | Diya TV News

JAMMU and KASHMIR, India (Diya TV) — Indian Prime Minister Modi thanked security forces for unraveling a terrorist plot by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad. Four men suspected of plotting a new attack on the anniversary of the 26/11 attacks were killed during a gunfight with Indian armed forces at a checkpoint in Jammu. Their truck was loaded with a cache of weapons and explosives. Modi is now reviewing the security apparatus along the international border and the Line of Control with Pakistan amid this infiltration.

Terrorism was a major theme of the annual BRICS summit featuring Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa was hosted by Russia virtually. Prime Minister Modi said terrorism is the biggest challenge world is facing today, adding “countries that support the terrorists are held accountable.” Russian President Vladmir Putin said India and China may start producing Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19.

Donald Trump Jr., President Trump’s eldest son, tested positive for coronavirus. His father and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle and many others in the Trump inner circle have had the virus over the last few months. A spokesman said Trump Jr. learned his diagnosis earlier this week, but has no symptoms and is quarantining in his cabin.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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