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Meet The Blind Teenager Who Stole The Show On "Indian Idol Junior"

Prerna Agarwal with Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan
Prerna Agarwal with Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan
Jasvinder Sehgal

VAPI — Teenager Prerna Agarwal is autistic and blind. She also happens to be one of India's latest singing sensations, thanks to a 2013 appearance on Indian Idol Junior, a popular television show that gained her international attention.

When reporter Jasvinder Sehgal visits the young singer at her home, he finds her listening to a classic Hindi hit from the 1970s while cuddling her favorite soft toy. "My Teddy loves singing songs," she says. "He loves eating pasta and drinking orange juice. He wakes up earlier than me and also wakes me up every morning."

Prerna then excitedly introduces her family. "My mother’s name is Punita. She is always in the kitchen busy cooking tasty food for me. My father is Umesh, he's a businessman and manufacturer of pens, and this is my brother Piyush Agarwal, an engineering student," she explains.

Prerna's father says he noticed her talent three years ago when one of his friends asked her to perform at a local event. "He was very confident that Prerna would steal the show," says her father Umesh. "She sang a popular religious number. That was her first performance. She sang it so beautifully that she got a thunderous applause and a standing ovation."

Her mother is certain that Prerna will become a professional singer. "She is obsessed with music," her mother Punita says. "You could say that she "eats music" and "drinks music." When she is singing she neither feels hungry or thirsty. The other children demand breakfast when they wake up but my daughter just wants to turn on music."

It was her appearance on Indian Idol Junior that really marked the turning point. She was eliminated in the early rounds but the producers asked her to sing at the closing event. "She performed in front of the star guest judge, Bollywood Actor Amitabh Bachchan. She performed in front of him and sang beautifully," Umesh says.

Prerna says she wants to sing for her country and for the continent she lives in. "It's an honor to be part of Asia," she says. "The people of my continent will always move forward and will always accept challenges and never be defeated."

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The Russian Orthodox Church Has A Kremlin Spy Network — And Now It's Spreading Abroad

The Russian Orthodox Church has long supported Russia’s ongoing war effort in Ukraine. Now, clergy members in other countries are suspected of collaborating with and recruiting for Russian security forces.

Photo of Russian soldiers during mass at an Orthodox church in Moscow.

Russian soldiers during mass at an Orthodox church in Moscow.

Wiktoria Bielaszyn

WARSAW — Several countries have accused members of the Russian Orthodox clergy of collaborating with Russian security services, pushing Kremlin policy inside the church and even recruiting spies from within.

On Sept. 21, Bulgaria deported Russian Archimandrite Vassian, guardian of the Orthodox parish in Sofia, along with two Belarusian priests. In a press release, the Bulgarian national security agency says that clergy were deported because they posed a threat to national security. "The measures were taken due to their actions against the security and interests of the Republic of Bulgaria," Bulgarian authorities wrote in a statement, according to Radio Svoboda.

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These reports were also confirmed by Russia's ambassador to Bulgaria, Eleonora Mitrofanova, who told Russian state news agency TASS that the priests must leave Bulgaria within 24 hours. “After being declared persona non grata, Wassian and the other two clerics were taken home under police supervision to pack up their belongings. Then they will be taken to the border with Serbia" she said.

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