India: Kerala health minister K. K Shailaja tops global list of ‘top 50 thinkers 2020’ in COVID-19 age, published by British magazine

Dubai: Kerala’s Minister of Health and Social Welfare K. K Shailaja has been named by a British magazine as the “top world thinker” among 50 global public figures. According to the Prospect Magazine website, 20,000 voters ranked the minister ahead of New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in containing the spread of COVID-19.

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“It’s a disease of the body, but it has redefined the requirements for a great mind. In the last issue, we renewed a Prospect tradition and identified 50 top world thinkers. It was an all-new list for the COVID-19 age, since the mood called for thinking of a different sort—less chin-stroking, more hands on,” said the website on Wednesday.

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The magazine selected 50 people including philosophers, intellectuals, artists, scientists and writers through voting by the readers, and based on the opinion of the panel of experts and editors. The votes were counted in a public ballot to finalise the list, according to the magazine.

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Apparently, K. K Shailaja, a teacher turned politician, and endearingly called Shailaja teacher in Kerala, is the only Indian who found a spot on the list.

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Praising the Indian minister, the magazine said: “So deft was her handling of a 2018 outbreak of the deadly Nipah disease that it was commemorated in a film, Virus. In 2020, she was the right woman in the right place. 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 World Health Organisation’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. Of course the virus returned, but there was rigorous surveillance and quarantine—sometimes in makeshift structures. The public messages have been consistent, and Shailaja follows them to the letter, with social distancing in all official meetings (which can go on until 10pm) and restricting herself to a Zoom-only relationship with her grandchildren.”

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Many Indians shared the list on Twitter and congratulated the minister for her work.

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Tweep @suchinder59 posted: “To be recognised globally shows how well Ms. Shailaja, the Health Minister of Kerala, India, has managed this dreaded pandemic. To be on top of a list of distinguished dignitaries is a class act. Congratulations!”

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The magazine voters gave the second spot to Jacinda Ardern. According to the magazine: “Her governing ‘ethos of kindness’ was drawing interest as a refreshing (if hazy) alternative to neo-liberalism even before it showed practical results in keeping a lid on the crisis.”

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Also read:

  • Meet the UAE resident whose mother is leading Kerala’s coronavirus battle

  • What’s happening in India, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Philippines, Europe? News in pictures from East to West today

  • COVID-19: Want to travel from India to the UAE? Visit visa, residence visa holders – these are your options

  • Does my child need to get a COVID-19 test before flight to the UAE?

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And, the third slot went to Bangladeshi architect Marina Tabassum, for applying her mind to designing houses on stilts to keep families safe from rising waters.

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