Text by Drew Francisco

After 21 years, the crown is back in India.

Harnaaz Sandhu was crowned the 70th Miss Universe during the finals on December 12 at the Universe Arena in Eilat, Israel, marking the third time India bagged the Miss Universe crown after Sushmita Sen in 1994 and Lara Dutta in 2000.

Sandhu, a 21-year-old model and actress from Chandigarh, received the crown from outgoing queen Andrea Meza of Mexico. She was a heavy favorite among pageant observers and even topped Missosology’s Final Hot Picks.

Asked during the Final Word round of the competition what advice she would give to young women watching on how to deal with the pressures they face today, she replied:

“I think the biggest pressure the youth of today is facing is to believe in themselves. To know that you are unique, that’s what makes you beautiful. Stop comparing yourselves with others and let’s talk about more important things that are happening worldwide. I think this is what you need to understand. Come out, speak for yourself, because you are the leader of your life. You are the voice of your own. I believed in myself and that’s why I’m standing here today.”

Paraguay’s Nadia Ferreira placed first runner-up while South Africa’s Lalela Mswane was second runner-up. Colombia’s Valeria Ayos and the Philippines’ Beatrice Luigi Gomez completed the Top 5. Missosology.Org