Why Biden picked Indian-origin Ajay Banga to head World Bank

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadFeb 24, 2023 | 10:16

Why Biden picked Indian-origin Ajay Banga to head World Bank

US nominates Ajay Banga for World Bank President. Photo: Twitter

The Biden administration named former CEO of Mastercard Ajay Banga as its nominee for the World Bank President on February 23. Banga's nomination is the only official announcement so far and it is not known whether other countries will be nominating their candidates. 

  • Given that the US holds the majority of the stake at the World Bank, it is presumed that Ajay Banga will assume the job. 
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.
- Scott Morris, a senior fellow at Center for Global Development (Reuters)
  • World Bank's current President David Mlpass, nominated by the earlier Donald Trump administration, announced his resignation last week after his controversial views on climate change. 
  • The World Bank is set to pick a new President by early May. 

Who is Ajay Banga?

  • Banga was born in Pune, Maharashtra (now a US citizen) and went on to get his BA (Hons) degree in Economics from St Stephen's College, Delhi and then PGP in Management from IIM-Ahmedabad. 
  • He started his career with Nestle as a management trainee in 1981.
  • Later he worked with PepsiCo and Citibank before joining Mastercard. 
  • Banga led Mastercard in the market against rival Visa and was lauded for his leadership.

  • Ajay Banga stands out among other Indian Americans who have gone on to helm international organisations and companies in the fact that he's entirely India-educated. 
  • Now, Ajay Banga is also the first Indian-born nominee for World Bank President.

Why Ajay Banga:

  • The Biden administration has picked Banga to ensure climate change is put on number one priority while helping emerging markets and developing countries. 
  • Banga himself has been quite vocal about the effects of climate change. 
Raised in India, Ajay has a unique perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing developing countries and how the World Bank can deliver on its ambitious agenda to reduce poverty and expand prosperity.
- Biden administration statement
  • Banga also has experience working with the US government. He was earlier chosen by the Obama administration as one of the members of the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity. 
  • He also worked as co-chair of the Partnership for Central America, collaborating with US Vice President Kamala Harris to mobilise resources for Northern Central America. 

But not everyone is convinced: 

  • Germany, another major stakeholder at the World Bank, had said that the job should go to a woman since the bank has never been headed by a woman in its 77-year history. 
  • Critics also said that Banga's experience is mostly in private sector firms and the World Bank is not a private bank or a US commercial bank. 


Oxfam International had this to say: 

Time for the World Bank to evolve & hire based on merit not nationality. can't tell u how often I hear "it's never going to happen."
- Nadia Daar, Oxfam International

A final official appointment of the World Bank's President will only come in May. 

Last updated: February 24, 2023 | 10:16
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