Why do Indian-Americans win spelling bee contests?

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Nihar Saireddy Janga of Austin, TX, leaps for joy upon spelling a word in the final round of Scripps National Spelling Bee at National Harbor in Maryland, U.S. May 26, 2016.Image copyrightReuters
Image caption Nihar Janga successfully spelled ‘taoiseach’ after asking: ‘Is that an Irish word for prime minister?’

The 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee in the US was won last week by two boys of Indian origin – Nihar Janga, 11, from Texas, and Jairam Hathwar, 13, from New York.

The pair battled for 25 rounds in the final of the national competition, which was broadcast live on TV. They were declared joint winners and took home $40,000 (£27,343) each, along with additional gifts and prizes.

The 2015 Spelling Bee had been won by Gokul Venkatachalam and Vanya Shivashankar – Vanya’s older sister Kavya won in 2009.

In 2014, the winners were Ansun Sujoe and Sriram Hathwar, older brother of this year’s winner Jairam. Other Indian origin winners: Arvind Mahankali in 2013, Snigdha Nandipati in 2012, Sukanya Roy in 2011 and Anamika Veeramani in 2010.

Extraordinary success

Looking beyond the winner’s circle: About 70 of the 285 final round competitors in this year’s bee had South Asian names.

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