TL;DR – For the first time in 34 years.
Miss Universe Singapore Nandita Banna has done our country proud at this year’s Miss Universe for emerging as one of the 16 semi-finalists.
In case you didn’t know, this was the first time a Singaporean has made it to the semi-finals of the international beauty pageant, after Ms Marion Nicole Teo’s feat in 1987, when the annual event was held in Singapore.
Who’s Nandita Banna?
Born on 8 November 2000, Nandita Banna was crowned the title of Miss Universe Singapore on 17 September.
She was merely 21 years old when she won the title.
Currently a third-year double degree student at Singapore Management University majoring in business management and information systems (business analytics), Nandita had studied at Raffles Girls School and then went on to Raffles Institution from 2017 to 2018, prior to university.
Standing at 1.76m tall and modelling professionally since 2017, Nandita chopped off her long tresses after winning the local pageant and took to the world stage sporting a pixie cut.
Hopes for a more equitable society
While Nandita has never been a victim of any outright and egregious acts of racism in Singapore, she once shared in an interview that she was deeply affected when a slew of race-related incidents made the news earlier this year, including the one involving a lecturer who accosted an interracial couple in public – especially since her parents had come from India before she was born.
As such, Nandita said that she hopes she can use her position to remind people to embrace diversity:
“As a country built by immigrants, and one that prides itself in its multiculturalism — we should really focus on ensuring that every Singaporean is treated equally, no matter where they come from. I am passionate about this cause because it would be hypocritical of us to use our racial harmony as a selling point, while treating minorities badly.”
Meanwhile, Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu was crowned Miss Universe in the 70th edition of the annual pageant, with Paraguay’s Ms Nadia Ferreira as first runner-up and Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane taking the second runner-up spot.