It’s a proud moment of India, as K. K Shailaja, Kerala’s Minister of Health and Social Welfare has been crowned as the ‘Top Thinkers 2020’ in the world, by a British Magazine – Prospect. 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 2nd on the list. Prospect magazine also stated that more than 20,000 votes were cast and counted in a public ballot to finalize the list. 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. The magazine also stated “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”.

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 K.K Shailaja to speak at an event organized to honor the public servants who have been working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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.