The Foreign Policy magazine has identified the world’s Top 100 public intellectuals. In defining the criteria for its selection, Foreign Policy said the candidates, “among the worlds most sophisticated thinkers… have shown distinction in their particular field as well as an ability to influence wider debate, often far beyond the borders of their own country.”
In addition to Al Gore, Noam Chomsky, Francis Fukuyama, Umberto Eco, Lee Kuan Yew, the list has seven Indians: historian Ramachandra Guha, political psychologist Ashis Nandy, environmentalist Sunita Narain, economist-Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, journalist author Fareed Zakaria, novelist Salman Rushdie, and San Diego-based neuroscientist V S Ramachandran.
Pakistan and Bangladesh have one name each in the Top 100 – lawyer-politician Aitzaz Ahsan and microfinance guru Mohammed Yunus, while China has four.
Foreign Policy has listed more than a third (36) of the worlds Top 100 intellectuals in North America, most of them in the US. Among them are two New York Times columnists, Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman. Foreign Policy also credits Europe, which has deep tradition of intellectualism, with 30 names in the Top 100 – less than North America – including Britons Niall Fergson, Ian Buruma and Christopher Hitchens. The Middle East accounts for 11, and Asia 12.
The list includes 17 political scientists, 15 economists, 12 each of philosophers, scientists, and journalists, eight artists and novelists, six each of historians, activists, and leaders, four religious heads, and two environmentalists.