New Miss America puts Indian-American community into spotlight

Washington, Sep 18 (IANS): As hateful racial tweets greeting newly crowned Miss America Nina Davuluri, put the Indian-American community into the spotlight, the first woman of Indian descent to win the title herself was unfazed.

"I always viewed myself as first and foremost American," the 24-year-old Miss New York said telling ABC's "Good Morning America", during a live video appearance "I'm just really so honoured."

Noting that it's the second year in a row that Miss America has hailed from New York, the New York Daily News said "Davuluri can count on plenty of support from the Empire State".

Reacting to the barrage of tweets disparaging the beauty queen's ethnic heritage and questioning whether her Indian background makes her less "American", Washington think tank Pew Research Centre took note of the community's growing influence.

The Indian American community, now numbering more than 3 million, has notably high rates of education, it pointed out.

According to the American Community Survey, seven-in-ten Indian Americans ages 25 and older have a college degree, compared with 28 percent of the general population.

A Pew Research Centre survey of Asian Americans conducted in 2012 also found that few Indian Americans (10 percent) say discrimination against their community is a major problem. Nearly half (48 percent) see discrimination as a minor problem, while 38 percent say it is not a problem at all.

"Indian-American women are going mainstream -- from Monday Night Football to Pepsi's CEO. And now, Miss America herself, Nina Davuluri," quipped Tampa, Florida's FOX 13.

Noting that the 2014 International Indian Film Academy Awards event in Tampa "promises to draw in at least 30,000 Indians and $50 million into the local economy", it said: "That's plenty of reason to celebrate what Indian culture is doing here at home and on the national stage."

Roxanne Jones, a founding editor of ESPN, penned a letter on CNN to "Dear Miss America" thanking her "for reminding us what classic American beauty looks like today".

"For the rest of America -- in case any of you have been sleeping for, say, the past two decades, or clinging to out-of-touch fashion magazines -- here's an alert: Beauty is Serena Williams and Michelle Obama. Beauty is Angelina Jolie and Marissa Mayer."

"And yes, beauty is Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014," she wrote.

Sandip Roy, culture editor, told upset Indians in a blog post "Nina Davuluri's Story Is an American Story, Not an Indian One".

"It's understandable we may all want to bask in her newly crowned glory," but "The storm in a Twitter tea-cup is in fact about some Americans having a problem with her all-American-ness."

"Her becoming Miss America represents a reality about their country that they are not willing to accept. It is really not India's problem," he wrote.


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