All three finalists in the National Geographic Bee Championship, one of the most prestigious academic competitions in the world, turned out to be of Indian origin.
Rahul Nagvekar beat Vansh Jain of Wisconsin and Varun Mahadevan of California in the finals held on Thursday in Washington. The finals saw US President Barack Obama ask a question to the contestants as well.
Nagvekar, from Texas, is the fourth Indian-origin U.S. student to win the prestigious and widely-watched geography quiz in the last seven years.
The National Geographic Bee is an annual geography contest sponsored by the National Geographic Society.
The bee, held every year since 1989, is open to students in the fourth through eighth grade in participating American schools. About 4 million students entered the competition this year.
Competitions start months ahead, with a test and a school-level quiz.
14-year-old Nagvekar’s winning answer was Regensburg – to the question ‘what is the Bavarian city located on the Danube River that was a legislative seat of the Holy Roman Empire from 1663 to 1806?’
Indian and Chinese kids have dominated academic competitions in the United States for the last several years. While experts have speculated on reasons for the ‘Asian dominance’ of children’s competitions, author Amy Chua had set off a fierce debate in the country by claiming that it is because of strict parenting.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that Indian and Indian-origin kids dominate this year’s annual Google Science Fair.
Indians comprise about 1% of the US population, but are drawn almost exclusively from the top academic performers in their home country.
Most Indians who end up in the United States are highly qualified, mostly in engineering and medicine. The ‘brain drain’ of smart Indians to the United States is frequently the topic of discussion in the home country, though the rates of emigration has declined as economic growth picks up in India.
Nagvekar won a $25,000 scholarship and trip to the Galapagos Islands.