President Biden nominates Ajay Singh Banga to head World Bank

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Former Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga

By Asia Samachar | United States |

U.S. President Joe Biden nominated former Mastercard Inc CEO Ajay Singh Banga to lead the World Bank, betting the India-born executive’s ties to the private sector and emerging markets will jump-start the 77-year-old institution’s overhaul to better address climate change.

Biden’s nomination on Thursday of Banga, 63, now a U.S. citizen, all but assures he will assume a job that oversees billions of dollars of funding, as it races to help developing countries address climate change, reports the New York Times.

The World Bank (WB) on Wednesday said it expects to select a new president by early May to replace David Malpass, who announced his resignation last week after months of controversy sparked by his initial refusal to say if he accepted the scientific consensus on climate change, and pressure by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen for him to adopt “bolder” reforms.

“I think the speed of the nomination, less than 48 hours after the WB board launched the process, reflects a desire to discourage any challengers and wrap it up quickly,” the newspaper quoted said Scott Morris, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and a former U.S. Treasury official.

Biden noted Banga’s decades of experience building global companies and public-private partnerships to fund responses to climate change and migration and said he had a proven track record working with global leaders.

“Ajay is uniquely equipped to lead the World Bank at this critical moment in history,” Biden said in a statement, hailing the business executive’s Indian roots and knowledge of the challenges facing developing countries and ability to mobilize private capital to tackle big problems.

The report added that India was expected to support Banga’s candidacy, according to Krishnamurthy Subramanian, the former top economic adviser to the Indian government who now serves as India’s executive director at the International Monetary Fund. “It’s an elegant solution.”

In 2015, US President Barack Obama appointed Ajay Banga as a member of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, deemed a ‘key administration’ post.

Ajay is President and CEO of MasterCard, positions he has held since 2009. Prior to joining MasterCard, he held various senior management roles with Citigroup between 1996 and his departure in 2009, when he served as CEO of Citigroup Asia Pacific, according to the statement. He retired in December 2021 after 12 years at the helm of Mastercard.

Ajay, who studied in India, began his career at Nestlé India, where he served in various sales and management roles from 1981 to 1994.

Ajaypal Banga was born in Khadki, a small town near Pune, Maharashtra to a Sikh family in 1960. His mother was Jaswant Kaur and his father was Harbhajan Singh Banga, his father served in the Indian army as an officer.

Jalandhar is the native place of the Banga family but due to the nature of his father’s profession he had to travel a lot and he spent most of his young age in army bases in many parts of India, and due to this there was not a particular school where he studied, he was transferred in various schools starting from Secunderabad, Jalandhar, Delhi, Hyderabad and eventually he completed his schooling in Shimla, according to this blog entry.

RELATED STORY:

Mastercard CEO Ajay Singh Banga named top ethnic minority business role model (Asia Samachar, 8 June 2019)

World Bank appoints Indermit Gill as chief economist (Asia Samachar, 22 July 2022)

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