US President Joe Biden nominated Ajay Banga to lead the World Bank, the White House announced on Thursday. Banga, a 63-year-old Indian American born in Pune (India), is the former CEO of Mastercard and has an extensive business career. He arrived at the World Bank as a substitute for David Malpass, a Trump appointee who decided to leave the position early after he was criticized for his lack of his commitment to efforts to combat climate change.
Although it’s not written in stone, traditionally a European assumes the position of managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), while the US government chooses the president of the World Bank, which lends its funds mainly to developing countries. Banga’s proposal, therefore, is bound to be approved.
In a statement, Biden said, “Ajay is uniquely equipped to lead the World Bank at this critical moment in history.” “He has spent more than three decades building and managing successful, global companies that create jobs and bring investment to developing economies, and guiding organizations through periods of fundamental change. He has a proven track record managing people and systems, and partnering with global leaders around the world to deliver results,” the president added.
“He has more than three decades of successfully building and managing global businesses that create jobs and bring investment to developing economies, and leading organizations through periods of fundamental change. He has a proven track record in managing people and systems, and in working with global leaders to deliver results,” he added, before addressing one of the key items on his agenda: “He also has critical experience mobilizing public-private resources to tackle the most urgent challenges of our time, including climate change.”
Ajay Banga was CEO of Mastercard between 2010 and 2020, a period of great strategic, technological and cultural transformation within the company. He is currently vice president of General Atlantic. He is also Chairman of Exor and independent director of Temasek. He has served on the boards of the American Red Cross, Kraft Foods, and Dow, among other responsibilities. He is also a member of the Trilateral Commission, a founding trustee of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, a former member of the US-China Relations National Committee, and Chairman Emeritus of the American India Foundation.
Banga was born on November 10, 1959, into a Sikh family in the Khadki cantonment, in Pune, in the State of Bombay, where his father, an army officer, was stationed. His family is originally from Jalandhar, Punjab. Educated in his home country, Banga began his business career there in 1981 at Nestlé, where he spent the next 13 years in sales, marketing and general management roles. He later joined PepsiCo and was involved in launching its international fast food franchises in India as the economy liberalized, before joining Mastercard, first as COO and then as CEO.
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 added. With this appointment, Biden effectively seeks to align the World Bank with his climate agenda.
Malpass was appointed to the position by former US president Donald Trump. He was heavily criticized by Democrats after expressing skepticism last September over whether burning fossil fuels cause global warming. “I don’t even know. I’m not a scientist”, Malpass’s said at an event organized by The New York Times. Calls for his resignation immediately started to pour in. Former Vice President Al Gore called him a “climate denier” and called for his removal as head of the World Bank.
“This afternoon, I met with the World Bank Group’s Board of Directors and informed them of my intention to step down by the end of our June 30 fiscal year,” Malpass tweeted last week.
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