Indian-Americans Hail Biden's Decision To Nominate Former Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga To Lead World Bank

PTIFriday, February 24, 2023 5:59 am IST
Ajay Banga (Pic Via Twitter)
Ajay Banga (Pic Via Twitter)

Washington, Feb 24 (PTI) US President Joe Biden has made an 'inspired choice' by nominating Ajay Banga to the crucial position of the World Bank President and his deep expertise in fields like financial inclusion and public-private partnerships make him a phenomenal leader to head the multilateral institution, according to eminent Indian Americans.

Biden on Thursday nominated Indian-American business leader Banga, 63, to lead the World Bank after World Bank Group President David Malpass recently announced his intention to step down from his position.

If confirmed by the World Bank Board of Directors, Banga would be the first-ever Indian-American and Sikh-American to head either of the two top international financial institutions: the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

“In nominating him to this position, the President has made an inspired choice,” Indiaspora founder and chairman M R Rangaswami said after the White House announcement.

'Especially relevant, given recent commentary around the Bank’s mission and objectives, is that Banga brings a sharp focus on climate resiliency and environmental sustainability,' said Rangaswami, a venture capitalist and philanthropist from Silicon Valley.

Banga's deep expertise and several years of experience in the fields of financial inclusion, public-private partnerships, and climate finance make him a phenomenal leader to head the multilateral institution, the US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) said.

Notably, Banga had an instrumental role to play in the formation of the USISPF. He is a founding board member of USISPF. A former CEO of MasterCard, Banga is the Vice Chairman of General Atlantic.

“Ajay is a tireless believer in both the strength of US-India ties and strengthening the relationship even further. Ajay has been instrumental in setting up USISPF as a founding board member and a vital pillar in our success over the last five years,” said Mukesh Aghi, president of USISPF.

“Ajay’s background in his early years in India, gives him a deep understanding of the emerging market world and bridging the gaps in gender parity and working towards poverty alleviation, issues at the core ethos of the Bank’s mission,” Aghi said.

Banga’s work with Citigroup, MasterCard, General Atlantic, and USISPF will allow for a seamless transition to mobilising resources in public-private partnerships to tackle issues on climate, water resources, food security, and healthcare, the forum said.

“It’s another proud chapter in the success stories of the Indian-American diaspora, and I wish Ajay all the best for this new inning,” said Aghi.

Sanjeev Joshipura, Indiaspora’s executive director said that Banga’s global private sector background, during which he initiated and led Mastercard’s financial inclusion efforts, will be of immense value in enhancing his effectiveness as World Bank President.

“Moreover, as the first Indian-born nominee to this role, he brings a lived understanding of the challenges faced by developing nations. Large, complex and multifaceted problems, such as those the World Bank endeavours to resolve, are not new for Ajay to handle,” he said.

According to the White House, over the course of his career, Banga has become a global leader in technology, data, financial services and innovating for inclusion.

Banga's selection is likely to drastically reshape the institution and broaden its ambitions to combat climate change, The New York Times tweeted.

'We congratulate Ajay Banga on being the U.S. nominee to lead the World Bank,' Mastercard, where he was a former CEO, said in a tweet.

'His impact on our business and in advancing inclusive growth across the globe is well documented. We look forward to our continued work with the World Bank and with Ajay, if appointed by the board,' it added.

Banga is the honorary chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce, serving as chairman from 2020-2022. He is also chairman of Exor and independent director at Temasek. He became an advisor to General Atlantic’s climate-focused fund, BeyondNetZero, at its inception in 2021.

He previously served on the Boards of the American Red Cross, Kraft Foods and Dow Inc. He is a member of the Trilateral Commission, a founding trustee of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, a former member of the National Committee on US-China Relations, and Chairman Emeritus of the American India Foundation.

Banga is a co-founder of The Cyber Readiness Institute, Vice Chair of the Economic Club of New York and served as a member of President Barack Obama’s Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity. He is a past member of the US President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

He was awarded the Foreign Policy Association Medal in 2012, the Ellis Island Medal of Honour and the Business Council for International Understanding's Global Leadership Award in 2019, and the Distinguished Friends of Singapore Public Service Star in 2021.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without any modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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