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European development bank gets India-born boss

world Updated: May 21, 2012 23:35 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar

Britain’s top Indian-origin civil servant has been elected to head the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development — a move that breaks a Franco-German stranglehold over the high-profile job.

Sir Suma Chakrabarti, who was born in Jalpaiguri to academic parents, won the job of EBRD president after being strongly backed by the British government. “He won because he is the best person for the job,” said Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne.

Chakrabarti beat off competition from Poland’s heavyweight ex-PM Jan-Krzysztof Bielecki and former Serbian deputy PM Bozidar Djelic among others vying for the job at the EBRD, which was set up to help communist countries become democracies and now assists Arab Spring countries.

At his first press conference at the EBRD, Chakrabarti on Monday dismissed talk of “Franco-German culture, or Anglo-Saxon culture,” and joked: “Anyone looking at me, would they think I’m Anglo-Saxon? Interesting idea…”

His top team in the British department for international development, Chakrabarti added, comprised a Pakistani, an Egyptian and Anglo-Saxon, “led by a Bengali Englishman.”

In 2002, hand-picked by Prime Minister Tony Blair, the high-flying Chakrabarti became one of Britain’s youngest permanent secretaries.