Since it is almost certain that Ajay Singh Banga is set to become the next president of the World Bank, and Guneet Monga was recently bestowed with the coveted Oscar award for the documentary The Elephant Whisperers that she had produced, those who matter in Capital’s Greater Kailash Pahariwala gurudwara and Defence Colony gurudwara are waiting agog for the two to return to their localities of upbringing.
They are keen to felicitate the duo sooner rather than later. Both Banga and Guneet belong to Sikh families of Defence Colony and Greater Kailash respectively, the tony South Delhi colonies. Those who know Banga, an alumnus of prestigious St Stephen’s College, and Guneet, say that both are very devout Sikhs.
While in Delhi, Guneet often visits GK’s Pahariwala gurudwara and Banga visits Defence Colony gurudwara without fail. Jitender Singh Sahani, a known social worker of Delhi and family friend of Banga’s, says, “Ajay Banga was raised in various cities of the country, but he considers himself a Dilliwala. His father, Lieutenant General Harbhajan Singh Banga, was in the Indian Army and fought 1948, 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars. He was highly decorated and a very brave soldier. He was one of the early residents of Defence Colony and was very active in the affairs of local gurudwara. Ajay’s elder brother, Vindi Banga was an alumnus of IIT, Delhi. They used to travel in DTC buses during their school and college days.”
Feathers in the cap
Apart from holding a variety of positions at MasterCard and on the boards of the American Red Cross, Kraft Foods, and Dow Inc., Banga is presently Vice-Chairman at the private equity company General Atlantic. He has more than 30 years of business expertise. In addition, he has worked with corporates including Citigroup, Pepsi, and Nestle.
Last month, US President Joe Biden announced that Washington was nominating Banga to lead the World Bank after its current chief David Malpass announced plans to step down early.
Trilochan Singh, ex- Rajya Sabha MP and head of Minority Commission, says, “We would love to felicitate both Banga and Guneet together in Delhi. Their achievements are mind-boggling and we are all proud of them. We are looking for suitable dates so we can felicitate them.”
Banga has the rare distinction of serving President Joe Biden and earlier Barack Obama. In his role as co-chair of the Partnership for Central America, a group of private sector organisations, Banga collaborated closely with US Vice President Kamala Harris to mobilise resources for Northern Central America from the governmental, corporate, and non-profit sectors.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi was visiting US in 2015, Banga met him. They discussed as to how investment from the US to India can be increased thick and fast. Thanks to his efforts, several big-ticket CEOs of known companies met the Indian prime minister. Since then, Modi and Banga have become very close.
Meanwhile, after a big win at the 95th Academy Awards, producer Guneet is getting invitations from her old neighbours in Greater Kailash to visit them.
Guneet, who won the Oscar for The Elephant Whisperers this year, had done her schooling from Greater Kailash’s Blue Bells International school.
“It is a great feeling that Guneet achieved her dream to become one of the most powerful producers in the film world. She has made every Indian proud. One feels so good that her production house has already produced notable films like Gangs of Wasseypur – Part 1, Gangs of Wasseypur – Part 2, Peddlers, The Lunchbox, Masaan, Zubaan and Pagglait,” says a happy and proud Devendra Gupta, a neighbour of Guneet Monga’s parents in F block of Greater Kailash-Part-2. Gupta heads a well-known real-estate consultancy firm.
It may be recalled that The Elephant Whisperers is the first Indian film to win an Oscar in this category. The movie has been directed by Kartiki Gonsalves.
Those who are close to Banga and Guneet say that the best thing about them is that they are still very grounded people and have remained in touch with their friends and family even after touching the dizzy heights in their respective careers. They are proud of their Delhi connection and Indian roots.
“The Banga family originally hails from Jalandhar and they built their house in Delhi though they had lived in Pune and Hyderabad as well. They give a lot of importance to education,” says JS Shahni, an educationist acquainted with the family.
It goes without saying that the nomination of Ajay Banga as the US candidate for World Bank president is a happy news for all Indians too. It is sheer coincidence that when India is heading the all-powerful G20, Banga is most likely to be the next World Bank president.
In any case, he would be in India when the G20 summit would be taking place in New Delhi in the month of September, 2023.
Visit to Delhi
Moreover, he is expected to visit New Delhi any time soon. He would meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman among others. While in Capital, he would possibly also visit the Joseph Allen Stein-designed World Bank building in Lodhi Estate. The World Bank has an office in New Delhi since 1957. The New Delhi Office is today the oldest, continuously functioning local office of the World Bank.
As for Guneet, Delhi is a very special place as her husband, Sunny Kapoor, too is from here though they now both live in Mumbai. She tied the knot with Sunny Kapoor only last year.
“Even though I was born and brought up in Delhi, my whole life is now in Mumbai I have found friends like family here. All the ceremonies will be in Mumbai with a reception in Delhi,” she had said in an interview.
Guneet is also expected to be in Delhi anytime now. She has already visited Amritsar’s Golden Temple after winning the Oscar award.
In any case, Delhi is ready to welcome two of its most celebrated kids.