Kerala Health and Social Welfare minister KK Shailaja has surpassed New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden to be the world’s Top Thinker of 2020.

Shailaja received the title after British magazine Prospect hosted a public ballot, where people voted for the thinker of their choice. Over 20,000 votes were cast and counted, which helped Shailaja secure the number one spot.

The list consisted of the world’s top 50 thinkers, which included philosopher Cornel West, slavery historian Olivette Otele and New Zealand Prime Minister who earned the no. 2 spot, among others.

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.”



This is just one of the many signs of appreciation the teacher-turned-politician has earned during the age of covid. In India, she was applauded for her repressiveness and containment of the nipah virus in the state of Kerala in 2018. During the early days of covid, Shailaja predicted the virus and its detrimental effects, and worked ahead to prepare her state for the deadly virus. Several international agencies hailed the minster’s work in her state, with the the Guardian giving her the title of ‘coronavirus slayer’ and ‘rock star health minister.’