British magazine Prospect has named Kerala health minister K. K Shailaja as the ‘top thinker 2020’ in the world. Prospect magazine has selected ‘top 50 thinkers 2020’ including philosophers, intellectuals, artists, scientists and writers through voting by the readers and based on the opinion of the panel of experts and editors. Interestingly, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is ranked No.2 on the list.
More than 20,000 votes were cast and counted in a public ballot to finalise the list, according to the magazine. K. K Shailaja, a teacher turned politician, fondly called as Shailaja teacher is the only Indian found place in the list.
“So deft was her handling of a 2018 outbreak of the deadly Nipah disease that it was commemorated in a film, Virus,” the magazine wrote praising the Kerala health minister.
According to Prospect, “Shailaja teacher was the right woman in the right place in 2020. “When Covid-19 was still “a China story” in January, she not only accurately foresaw its inevitable arrival, but also fully grasped the implications. She rapidly got the WHO’s full “test, trace and isolate” drill implemented in the state, and bought crucial time by getting a grip of the airports, and containing the first cases to arrive on Chinese flights,” it added.
K.K Shailaja attained global recognition for the state’s successful model of coronavirus management and flattening of virus transmission curve during the initial phase of disease outbreak. The UK newspaper ‘The Guardian’ has hailed the minister as ‘coronavirus slayer’ and rock star health minister’ in its article.
The United Nations also invited Shailaja to speak at an event organised to honour the public servants who have been working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
K.K Shailaja is followed by New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern at the second position in the Prospect list. “Her instinctive, bridge-building leadership after the Christchurch mosque massacre was an inspiration. And her COVID-19 strategy—devised in lockstep with chief scientist Juliet Gerrard—built with intelligence and empathy on a foundation of unflinching honesty to achieve some of the world’s best results,” the magazine wrote about Ardern.
Some of the other known names in the list include French economist and Nobel prize winner Esther Duflo, writer and several time Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel and environmentalist David Attenborough.
Interestingly, a majority of the names in the top 50 list are women. A total of 26 women are included in the list. The influential UK magazine has also released a list of best deserving thinkers whose names have been missed out.