The World’s 25 smartest Indians – a quick analysis

I picked up the latest edition of Outlook magazine at Mumbai airport on my way to Ahmedabad, with the cover story reading “The world’s 25 smartest Indians” – too tempting to resist. Am writing this blog piece on my flight back home.

So, who are these ? Anyone we know ? Well, depends on how well-read one is.

For starters, these 25 people have been chosen from very diverse fields – good job, Outlook team. Broadly, there are :

  • 3 Economists – Gita Gopinath, Raj Chetty, Raghuram Rajan (counted in India now, but had been in USA for most of his formative years)
  • 4 business/corporate denizens – Anand Mahindra, Ajit Jain Berkshire, Herr Anshu Jain, Oracle Ruchir Sharma
  • 3 artists – Anish Kapoor Sculptor, R Mahanthappa Musician, Naeem Khan Fashion
  • 5 scientists/inventors – V Ramakrishnan (Nobel winner in Cambridge UK), Mitali Mukherjee Genticist, VS Ramchandran Neuroscientist, S Subramani Molecular Biologist, Ritankar Das Inventor
  • 2 doctors, 2 politicians (Jairam Ramesh and Bobby Jindal) and a “post-colonial theorist” (!!!)

The country of domicile disappoints me – of the 25 Indians, 16 are based in the USA, 5 in India and 4 in UK. This may be validated by the rationale that the smartest Indians leave India (sad, but possibly true), or that smart Indians in India do not get an environment conducive for them to prosper and become smarter (more comforting thought, but a Pyrrhic victory in some way).

Age-wise, 12 were below 45 years of age, with Ritankar Das, the youngest at 18 !! Das is studying bio-engineering and chemical biology (I thought these were two different subjects of 100 marks each in my tenth standard). He is the youngest University gold medallist. Another 9 were 60 years or above. So, looks like some smart people will make it by 45…and others will have to work hard to be recognised by 60. The intermediate slab looks like a slab of low-achievement !

Gender-wise, there are 3 women, showing that more women need to persist in their fields and be obsessed with that to reach such heights. Drawing any other conclusion might be short-sighted.

And for those super-150 Binet-Simon scorers who want to know, sorry but I couldn’t find the methodology for choosing these 25 smartest Indians in the Outlook magazine…Yes, I know – not fair…

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