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Indian-born Ajay Banga takes over as president of World Bank

The Indian American became the first person of colour to head either of the two global financial institutions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

US treasury secretary Janet Yellen meets with World Bank president Ajay Banga at the US treasury in Washington, DC, June 1, 2023. (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

Indian American Ajay Banga on Friday (2) took over as the president of the World Bank, making him the first person of colour to head either of the two global financial institutions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

On May 3, the executive directors of the World Bank selected Banga, 63, as the 14th president of the global financial institution for a five-year term.

In February, US president Joe Biden announced that the US would nominate Banga to lead the World Bank. “Join us in welcoming Ajay Banga as the new president of the World Bank Group. We are committed to creating a world free from poverty on a livable planet,” the World Bank said in a tweet with a picture of Banga entering the bank headquarters in Washington DC on Friday.

“I wish Ajay Banga all the best as he takes up his new role as president of the World Bank today. I look forward to continuing the deep partnership between our institutions to do good and help those most in need,” IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva said in a tweet.

Banga, who was born in Pune in India in 1959, has become the first-ever Indian-American to head the World Bank.

He replaces David Malpass, who announced his decision to step down in February. Banga most recently served as the vice chairman at General Atlantic.

Previously, he was the president and CEO of Mastercard, a global organisation with nearly 24,000 employees. Under his leadership, MasterCard launched the Center for Inclusive Growth, which advances equitable and sustainable economic growth and financial inclusion around the world.

He was the honorary chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce, serving as chairman between 2020-2022.

He became an advisor to General Atlantic’s climate-focused fund, BeyondNetZero, at its inception in 2021. Banga served as Co-Chair of the Partnership for Central America, a coalition of private organizations that works to advance economic opportunity across underserved populations in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

He was previously on the Boards of the American Red Cross, Kraft Foods, and Dow Inc. Banga is a co-founder of The Cyber Readiness Institute and was Vice Chair of the Economic Club of New York. He was awarded the Foreign Policy Association Medal in 2012, the Padma Shri Award by the president of India in 2016, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the Business Council for International Understanding’s Global Leadership Award in 2019, and the Distinguished Friends of Singapore Public Service Star in 2021.

On Thursday (1), US treasury secretary Janet Yellen met with Banga at the treasury department.

During their engagement, Yellen warmly welcomed Banga’s upcoming presidency and conveyed her strong desire for the treasury to continue close collaboration with him in building on the strong progress made so far on evolving multilateral development banks (MDBs), a media release said.

That includes continuing implementation of the recommendations of the G20 Capital Adequacy Framework review to get the most out of the Bank’s balance sheet, and improving and increasing the amount of private capital mobilised for our shared global development objectives and refining the operating model to increase the responsiveness and agility of the bank, it said.

(PTI)

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