President Joe Biden on Thursday announced that the US is nominating Ajay Banga to lead the World Bank, saying the Indian-American business leader is uniquely equipped to lead the global institution at "this critical moment in history."
The General Electric vice chairman is best known for his stint as the president and CEO of Mastercard.
At the World Bank he will be replacing David Malpass, a former Trump treasury official, reports axios.com. Malpass had already announced that he will resign by July, months ahead of his term expired.
Banga, 63, is the son of an Indian Army officer and was raised in Pune. He became a US citizen in 2007 and was awarded the Padma Shri in 2016.
"Ajay is uniquely equipped to lead the World Bank at this critical moment in history," President Biden said in a statement.
"He has spent more than three decades building and managing successful, global companies that create jobs and bring investment to developing economies, and guiding organisations 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," Biden said.
US treasury secretary Janet Yellen concurred.
In a statement endorsing Banga she said, “As a renowned executive, Mr Banga has led a global organization with nearly 20,000 employees, advocated for diversity and inclusion, and delivered results. His efforts have helped bring 500 million unbanked people into the digital economy, deploy private capital into climate solutions, and expand economic opportunity through the Partnership for Central America.”
By tradition, the United States gets to nominate the head of the World Bank and European members reserve the right to pick the head of the International Monetary Fund, reported axios.com. It also pointed out that another major Indian American appointment by the Biden administration was in 2021 when Gita Gopinath was nominated as number 2 in the IMF, a position that traditionally goes to the US.
If confirmed by the World Bank Board of Directors, Banga would be the first-ever Indian-American and Sikh-American to head either of the two top international financial institutions: International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
He also has critical experience mobilising public-private resources "to tackle the most urgent challenges of our time, including climate change," the US President said.
Raised in India, Banga 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, he added.
The White House said Banga is a business leader with extensive experience leading successful organisations in developing countries and forging public-private partnerships to address financial inclusion and climate change.
According to the White House, over the course of his career, Banga has become a global leader in technology, data, financial services and innovating for inclusion.
He is honorary chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce, serving as chairman from 2020-2022.
He is also chairman of Exor and independent director at Temasek.
He became an advisor to General Atlantic's climate-focused fund, BeyondNetZero, at its inception in 2021.
He previously served on the Boards of the American Red Cross, Kraft Foods and Dow Inc. Ajay has worked closely with Vice President Kamala Harris as the Co-Chair of the Partnership for Central America.
He is a member of the Trilateral Commission, a founding trustee of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum, a former member of the National Committee on United States-China Relations, and Chairman Emeritus of the American India Foundation.
Banga is co-founder of The Cyber Readiness Institute, Vice Chair of the Economic Club of New York and served as a member of President Barack Obama's Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity.
He is a past member of the US President's Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.
He was awarded the Foreign Policy Association Medal in 2012, the Ellis Island Medal of Honour and the Business Council for International Understanding's Global Leadership Award in 2019, and the Distinguished Friends of Singapore Public Service Star in 2021.