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First ever Indian-American to head World Bank

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Former Mastercard boss Ajay Banga has been elected to lead the World Bank as it strives to help low-income countries overcome debt and combat climate change.

Mr Banga, nominated by President Joe Biden for the post, is the first-ever Indian American to head the bank.

He will replace David Malpass, who had sparked outcry by appearing to question the role of humans in climate change.

He begins his five-year term on 2 June.

Now a US citizen, Mr Banga started his career in his native India, where his father was an officer in the army. He worked at Nestle and Citigroup before joining Mastercard where he stayed for more than a decade.

US President Joe Biden called him “a transformative leader” who had the experience to run the World Bank.

“He will help steer the institution as it evolves and expands to address global challenges that directly affect its core mission of poverty reduction — including climate change,” Mr Biden said.

In announcing Mr Banga’s confirmation, the bank’s executive directors said in a statement that they looked forward to working with him “on all the World Bank Group’s ambitions and efforts aimed at tackling the toughest development challenges facing developing countries.”

The US, the World Bank’s biggest shareholder, has traditionally been in charge of selecting the person to lead the institution, which lends billions of dollars to countries each year.

Developing countries have in the past complained about this, but Mr Banga was the only candidate for president.

“Ajay was elected with resounding approval from the executive directors, and will start his mandate with incredibly strong support from the membership of the World Bank,” a senior US official said about the vote.

Mr Banga’s appointment comes at a consequential moment for the development organisation.

The US and other wealthy nations have been pushing the bank to increase its lending to fight climate change. The bank’s $100bn (£80bn) per year or so of loans to help developing countries cope with climate change falls far short of the $1tn they say is needed.

Many developing nations are worried the focus on climate change will divert attention away from its anti-poverty efforts.

Developing countries have been hard hit by the pandemic, rises in food and in energy prices, and unsustainable levels of debt.

As president of the World Bank, Mr Banga will have to address these issues – all without any clear additional money on the table.

In an interview with the BBC in in March, when Mr Banga was on a listening tour in Africa, he said he wanted the bank to be a “catalyst” and “thought leader” for action,

“We also need to bring in the private sector to be able to reach these ambitious targets that we all have,” he said.

(BBC News)

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Indian elections begin

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Indians begin voting today to choose their next parliament in the first of seven voting days that end on June 01.
Almost a billion people are eligible to cast their ballot.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is aiming for a rare third consecutive term in power.

Several key opposition parties, including the Congress, have formed an alliance in many states to take on Mr Modi’s party.

The big issues include a jobs crisis, rising prices, a crackdown on dissent and the opposition, and the politics of religion.

Results will be announced on June 04.

(BBC News)

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Flights at Dubai airport diverted amid flash floods

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Heavy rain has battered some Gulf states, causing flash flooding across the region and leading to flights to the world’s busiest international airport being diverted.

Dubai Airport said operations were “temporarily diverted” – though they have since restarted.

Authorities in Oman said at least 18 people had been killed by floods.

Several states recorded nearly a year’s worth of rain in a day.

Unverified video from Dubai International Airport appeared to show jets leaving waves in their wake as they made their way down flooded runways.

In a statement, the airport said inbound flights due to arrive on Tuesday evening had been diverted “due to the continued exceptional weather event currently being experienced in the UAE”.

Departures would continue to operate, it added. Flights later restarted after an interruption of about two hours.

On Tuesday morning, the UAE’s National Centre of Meteorology issued a weather warning for large swathes of the country, including Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

The Gulf region is usually known for hot and dry weather, though heavy rains causing flooding have also occurred with greater regularity in recent years.

(BBC News)

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Sydney church stabbing treated as ‘terrorist act’

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Australian police have declared Monday’s stabbing at a church in Sydney a “terrorist act”.

A 15-year-old boy was arrested after a bishop and several churchgoers were stabbed during the sermon.

The incident happened in the evening at the Christ The Good Shepherd Church in the suburb of Wakeley.

At least four people were stabbed but police say none of their injuries were life-threatening. The incident triggered unrest.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the church, clashing with police – two of whom were injured.

Twenty police vehicles were damaged – with 10 left unusable.

Chief commissioner Karen Webb said those involved in the riots would be hunted by police, describing the actions as “unacceptable”.

New South Wales Premier Chris Minns said: “I convened a meeting of faith leaders representing major religious organisations across Western Sydney.

“And their message to their communities was universal and identical, and that is that they deplore violence in all forms that they have faith in the New South Wales police to undertake their investigation.

“They call for peace amongst all communities in Sydney, and most importantly, that people remain calm during this obviously distressing period.”

Paramedics had to retreat for cover in the church and were “holed up” there for more than three hours.’

(BBC News)

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