In a moment of pride for India, Kerala’s Minister of Health and Social Welfare Minister KK Shailaja has been named by a British magazine as the “top world thinker” for Covid-19 age among 50 such public figures across the globe. Also Read - Ray of Hope: 110-year-old Kerala Woman Beats COVID, Discharged From Hospital

Crediting Shailaja for flattening the COVID-19 curve in Kerala and for securing a low fatality rate in the state, the magazine said that Shailaja was the “right woman in the right place.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern features second on the list while Bangladeshi architect Marina Tabassum made it to the third spot.

Praising the minister, Prospect Magazine wrote, “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 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,” the magazine further said.

Shailaja organized rigorous surveillance and quarantine, at times in makeshift structures. The minister makes it a point to maintain social distancing in all official meetings, which can go on until 10 pm and restricts herself to a Zoom-only relationship with her grandchildren, the magazine noted.

More than 20,000 votes were cast and counted in a public ballot to finalise the list.

Notably, a teacher turned politician, Shailaja represents Kuthuparamba constituency in Kerala and belongs to Kannur district and is fondly called ‘Shailaja Teacher’. She was also a speaker at the United Nations Public Service Day on June 23, to honour those working on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nobel prize winner Esther Duflo, writer and Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel, environmentalist David Attenborough are other popular names on the list.