A UK-based magazine ‘Prospect’ has named the Health Minister of Kerala and the COVID hero of India K.K. Shailaja as the ‘Top Thinker of 2020’. Ms Shailaja has been selected out of a list of 50 important personalities. This list included the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, who has secured the second position.

Ms Shailaja was hailed for flattening the COVID-19 curve in the Indian state of Kerala and maintaining a low fatality rate in the state. The magazine stated that she was the “right woman in the right place”. The magazine also stated- “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 has been making the country proud with her strategy to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic in Kerala. Netizens have applauded her for that and for her recent recognition by the ‘Prospect’. She was also hailed as the ‘coronavirus slayer’ by the UK-based newspaper, ‘The Guardian’ and a ‘rock star health minister’ in its article about Shailaja.

Earlier this year, in June, Shailaja was honoured by the United Nations for her work in defeating Coronavirus in the state. The state government had also received international appreciation and Kerala posed as a model for other nations in defeating Coronavirus. Shailaja was invited to speak on the Public Service Day of the United Nations where an event was held to honour the frontline warriors of COVID-19 pandemic.

Regarding the recognition by the UK-based magazine, the Femina India had tweeted from their verified account- “Congratulations, KK Shailaja! You’ve led by example and made the country proud! ##KKShailaja @shailajateacher”. Other personalities on Twitter have also extended their congratulations.

The ‘Prospect’ magazine had selected the ‘Top 50 Thinkers 2020’ which included intellectuals, philosophers, scientists, writers and artists. This selection was made by the votes of the readers and based on the opinions of a panel on experts and editors at the Prospect. More than 20,000 votes were cast by the readers and counted on a public ballot. As per the magazine, K.K. Shailaja who is also a teacher turned politician is the only Indian on the list. The magazine also wrote in place of the Kerala minister- “So deft was her handling of a 2018 outbreak of the deadly Nipah disease that it was commemorated in a film, Virus.” Some of the other prominent names in the list of top thinkers are the Nobel Prize winner French economist Esther Duflo, winner of the Booker prize several times, Hilary Mantel and David Attenborough who is an environmentalist. A total of 26 women were on the list which was a clear majority. The magazine had also revealed the best deserving thinkers whose names were missed out.

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