Nishtha Dudeja — First Indian to Win Miss Deaf Asia

Nishtha Dudeja Miss deaf Asia 2018
Nishtha Dudeja — First Indian Miss Deaf Asia

Nishtha Dudeja won the title of Miss Deaf Asia in the finale of Miss and Mister Deaf World Pageant held at Prague, Czech Republic.

It is rightly said that if you dream to win than nothing can stop you from winning anything in this world. Haryana girl Nishtha Dudeja has proved the saying correct by winning the Miss Deaf Asia 2018 title at the 18th edition of Miss and Mister Deaf World -Europe -Asia Beauty Pageant 2018 recently held at Prague, Czech Republic. Dudeja is the first Indian to have won any title at Miss Deaf World Pageant. She faced very tough competition from the contestants of China, Thailand, Taiwan, Israel, Czech Republic, Belarus, Mexico, South Africa, and others.

The ravishing beauty who was born deaf did not think of herself being differently abled and chose to take her fate in her own hands and today she has made Haryana proud again after the famous Sakshi Malik and Manushi Chillar.

“I want to thank my parents for their consistent support who were always there to help me. Now I want to help the deprived people even at the cost of my comfort. I believe that the differently abled people don’t need pity. They only deserve equal opportunities to prove themselves,” said Nishtha Dudeja.

The 23-year-old Panipat girl is a commerce graduate from Venketeshwar College, Delhi University and presently pursuing M.A in economics from Mithibai College, University of Mumbai. Prior to this title, the beautiful Dudeja had also won the Miss Deaf India title on February 26, 2018, in Jaipur. Dudeja is also the brand ambassador for Sivantos India Pvt Ltd. (Formerly Siemens hearing Instruments Pvt Ltd.) the world’s leading brand of hearing aids, having about 25 per cent market share globally.

The stunning beauty was always a very bright student from her school days, who was always keen on learning something new in her life. Seeing her interest in extra-curricular activities, her mother sent her for playing Judo at the age of 7. Nishtha played Judo for about 5 years, participated in various tournaments up to International level and won many medals.

The beauty queen is also an accomplished Tennis Player and has played many AITA, ITF and Asian Tour Tennis tournaments. Nishtha had also participated in Deaflympics 2013 (held in Sofia, Bulgaria), World Deaf Tennis Championship 2015 (held in Nottingham, UK) and Deaflympics 2017 (held in Samsun, Turkey).

Ved Prakash Dudeja, father of Nishtha is a Chief Engineer in Northern Railways gave the credit of daughter success to her wife who has worked hard for their daughter success. While her mother Punam Dudeja is a homemaker said that we broke down when we came to know that our child will not be able to hear lifelong but we did everything to make our daughter life a successful one. Sukirti Gupta from India worked with ABILITY to develop this story.

(L-R) Mr. Ved Prakash Dudeja, Mrs. Punam Dudeja, Ms. Nishtha Dudeja Miss Deaf Asia 2018, Mr. Y.K. Sindwani- Head, Lancers International School, Mrs. Archana Nagpal- Coordinator, Lancers International School

Sukirti Gupta: Do you use hearing aids?

Nishtha Dudeja: Yes, I use hearing aids. I am hearing impaired since birth with 90 to 110 dB loss in both the ears. This was however known to my parents only when I was 3 years old. Since then I started using hearing aids. I took speech therapy for 7 years to develop my speech. I can speak and I’m able to communicate with hearing people. I was sent to a normal school, not a deaf school. I have done my Bachelors in Commerce from Delhi University and now pursuing my Masters in Economics from Mithibai College, Mumbai.

Gupta: What was your experience communicating with different countries and their different sign languages during the pageant?

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Dudeja: I have not taken any formal training of Sign Language. However, I have picked up some signs after interacting with various hearing impaired people whom I met in India and abroad during Tennis Tournaments. I know English and Hindi very well. Actually, almost all the countries have their own sign language. So it was a little difficult to communicate among the participants. I picked up from various people and the language of my heart for communicating with the participants from other countries of the world. The participants and organizers were very nice and it was a wonderful experience to be a part of this Pageant.

Gupta: Is it difficult finding sign language interpreters in India?

Dudeja: In India, there are only 250 certified sign language interpreters for a hearing impaired population of about 7 millions, as compared to about 16,000 interpreters in USA with less than one-third population. Further, there are about 2500 certified speech therapists in India. So a large proportion of deaf population does not have the facility to communicate with other hearing people.

Gupta: What do you see as the benefits for you in winning Miss Deaf Asia?

Dudeja: First of all, winning the first title for India in this prestigious Pageant is itself a great achievement for me personally and for my country. It is a feeling of pride. So far benefits of winning Miss Deaf Asia are concerned, I feel empowered. I have got a lot of name and fame after winning this title. I wish to break all those barriers for which differently abled persons are considered unsuitable for a particular job or profession. In view of my all round achievements in studies, sports, arts and culture, I was selected for National Award for Empowerment of Persons with Disability in the category of “Role Model” by the Government of India. This award was presented on 3rd December 2018 by Honorable President of India.

Gupta: Do you plan on entering more pageants?

Dudeja: So far as the participation in the Pageants for deaf people are concerned, I have already participated in all such possible pageants. For other pageants, I have not yet thought of participating in them. However, if I get such an opportunity, I will like to participate or to associate in whatever capacity it is possible.

Gupta: What are your plans after receiving your MA in economics?

Dudeja: Right now I am pursuing my MA in Economics which gets completed in June, 2020. I want to work for helping and empowering the deprived and differently-abled people. I already have an assignment of Brand Ambassador of a large hearing aid company. I might also like to try my hands in modeling, movies or web series, if I get really good offer.

Nishtha Dudeja and Honourable President of India
Center: Nishtha Dudeja and Honourable President of India

Gupta: What do you think are the biggest barriers are for greater employment of people that are deaf or hard of hearing?

Dudeja: If I talk about India, the Government has reserved 5% seats in higher education and 4% seats in jobs for the persons with disabilities, including the deaf people. But more than 80% out of the seats reserved in higher education remain unfilled, as the rate of dropout at primary and secondary education level is very high. Also there is a lack of awareness among the parents and teachers about the technological solutions available and special requirements of the differently-abled children. We as a society have to come forward for this, as we can’t expect the government alone to do everything for us.

Gupta: Do you plan on traveling to other countries?

Dudeja: I have already travelled a few countries like France, Switzerland, Italy, Bulgaria, United Kingdom, Turkey, Czech Republic, Austria and Slovakia, and interacted with the deaf people of many countries during Deaflympics-2013, World Deaf Tennis Championship-2015, Deaflympics-2017 and Miss & Mister Deaf World-Asia-Europe-2018. I love traveling and exploring places, and meeting new people. So I will definitely like to explore more countries of the world in future.

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History of Deaflympics
History of Deaflympics —

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