Elisha Pulivarti/Washington DC
Ajay Banga’s nomination as the next President of the World Bank has thrilled Indians all over the world. We received the news in disbelief as US President Joe Biden made this announcement on February 24 (Feb 23 in the US). Usually, a candidate nominated by the US president becomes the World Bank president. The presidency of its sister institution, IMF (International Monetary Fund) goes to the Europe. Ajay will be in the post for five years.
63 year old Ajay Banga, full name Ajaypal Singh Banga, is a leading light of Indian American community and a stellar personality in the US India Business Council and an able economic executive in the US. Born in a family of army officers, his father Harbhajan Singh Banga, worked as an army lieutenant, in Pune, Ajay studied at Hyderabad Public School (HPS), Begumpet, in Hyderabad, before going to St Stephens, Delhi for BA and IIM, Ahmedabad for MBA.
Right person for the right post
Ajay’s appointment is almost final as the 189 nations World Bank’s board of directors will officially confirm the same last week of March. The present incumbent David Malpass, a Trump appointee, is stepping down at the behest of Biden administration after he made controversial comments climate change. Malpass remarked that there is no scientific basis for climate change funding. Biden administration differs with this view. Banga is the choice of Biden.
This shows, Ajay Banga will surely focus on climate change funding to the developing and the poor countries. This is a good news to India as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leading the climate change dialogue at the global level as the head of G-20 this year. We can hope, Ajay Banga will work with PM Modi in the climate change issues.
I met Ajay Banga a few times in Washington DC at the US India Business Council meetings. He is a very friendly and good person. I am quite happy that a person born in India will be leading the World Bank. I’m more happy that Ajay studied in HPS, Hyderabad before going great heights, both academically and professionally.
Ajay worked with Barack Obama administration and also with US Vice President Kamala Harris till recently. His stints at Mastercard and now at General Atlantic, now will be of immense use to his top job at the World Bank. We Indians always looked at World Bank and its conditions with suspicion. Most of us are of the view that the World Bank puts more conditions that are against to our interests.
But, the fact is that the Bank goes by the needs and situations in each country and comes up with solutions to solve the problems. If IMF gives loans to Central governments, World Bank funds states and individual projects, mostly to reduce poverty and empower women and vulnerable groups. Now that Ajay is at the helm of World Bank, most of Indians will change their opinion about the World Bank, I wish.
(Elisha Pulivarti is CEO of US India SME Council, and regular writer to Excel India)