Chennai (Tamil Nadu) was represented well in Time Magazine’s top 100, a list of the most influential people on the planet for the year 2011. Among the 100 were two representing the Tamil Nadu capital – neuroscientist V S Ramachandran and social activist Aruna Roy. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the captain of the Chennai Super Kings & India’s World cup winning National team was amongst the 100 selected.
Once described as the Marco Polo of neuroscience, V.S. Ramachandran has mapped some of the most mysterious regions of the mind. He has studied visual perception and a range of conditions, from synesthesia (in which viewing black-and-white figures evokes the perception of color) to autism. But Ramachandran, 59, is best known for developing a therapy for phantom-limb pain in which a mirror is used to reflect the intact limb, creating the illusion that the missing one is still there. That persuades the brain that all is well, and the pain subsides. With his simple, creative and innovative ideas, V.S. Ramachandran is changing how our brains think about our minds.
Born in Chennai on the 26th May 1946, Aruna Roy is an Indian politician and social activist. Starting from a tiny village in the deserts of Rajasthan in the 1980s, Aruna Roy began a long campaign to bring transparency to India’s notoriously corrupt bureaucracy. Its signal achievement is the 2005 Right to Information (RTI) Act, a law that has given the nation’s poor a powerful tool to fight for their rights and has influenced similar measures in other countries. It has also inspired thousands of RTI activists, who have exposed everything from land scams to bank embezzlement to the misuse of public funds meant for the poor. Since then, Roy, 64, has helped shape an ambitious new rural jobs program and a food-security bill that will come before Parliament this year. Many social activists clamor for India to do more for the dispossessed. A former civil servant, Roy doesn’t just condemn a broken system; she changes it.
To view the full 2011 Time 100 list click here