The president of the United States, Joe Biden, has proposed Ajay Banga for the position of president of the World Bank, the White House announced this Thursday. Banga, a 63-year-old Indo-American born in Pune (India) has been CEO of Mastercard and has an extensive business career. He arrives at the World Bank as a replacement for David Malpass, who has decided to leave the position early after the controversies over his commitment to the fight against climate change.
Although it is an unwritten law, traditionally a European takes the post 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 amounts in effect to his appointment.
Through a statement, Biden has indicated that “Ajay is especially prepared to lead the World Bank at this critical moment in history.” “He has spent more than three decades successfully building and managing global companies that create jobs and drive 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 collaborating with world leaders to get results”, he added, before addressing one of the key points on his agenda: “He also has decisive experience in resource mobilization public-private partnerships to face the most urgent challenges of our time, including climate change”.
Ajay Banga held the position of CEO of Mastercard between 2010 and 2020, a period of great strategic, technological and cultural transformation in the company. Currently he is vice president of General Atlantic. He is also the chairman of Exor and an 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. Banga was educated in his country and there he began his business career 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 program to reduce poverty and expand prosperity,” Biden added. , who with his appointment makes it possible to place someone else in tune with his climate agenda at the head of the World Bank.
Malpass was appointed to the position by former US President Donald Trump. He came under fire from Democrats after expressing skepticism of him last September when asked if burning fossil fuels was causing global warming. “I don’t even know. I am not a scientist”, was Malpass’s response to that question, at an event organized by The New York Times. Immediately, requests for resignation rained down. “We need a new World Bank leader, for God’s sake! We cannot have a climate denier running the World Bank!” burst out former vice president Al Gore at that same event.
“I met with the Board of Directors of the World Bank Group this afternoon and informed them of my intention to resign before the end of our fiscal year on June 30.” he wrote in a tweet last week.
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