State Bank of India chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya will be India’s nominee for the post of managing director and chief operating officer at the World Bank, two senior government functionaries told HT.
If she succeeds, Bhattacharya, 60, will be the first Indian to be holding an important managerial position in an international financial institution. The closest was in 2001 when former deputy chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia was appointed as first director of the independent evaluation office of the International Monetary Fund.
An official at the Prime Minister’s Office said on condition of anonymity that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has agreed to the candidature of Bhattacharya.
Reporting directly to the World Bank president, this post is considered to be the third most important position at the bank responsible for implementation of policy decisions.
Bhattacharya did not respond to telephone calls and text messages from HT on her nomination.
The selection to the post has to be cleared by the World Bank’s board of directors, which consist of country representatives.
“In return for India helping Washington in ensuring a second term to the incumbent president Jim Yong Kim, this post was offered to us. We will be backing her candidature,” a finance ministry official said.
The post of MD & COO fell vacant after Indonesian economist Sri Mulyani Indrawati returned to her country as its finance minister in July 2016.
Bhattacharya was ranked 25th in the Forbes 2016 list of ‘The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women’, which features top female leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, scientists, philanthropists and CEOs. She held a higher ranking than Indrawati who was at no 37 in the Forbes list.