Ajit Banerjee class photo

Ajit Banerjee

'55 MPA

UN Special Advisor, Coordinator for Administrative Reform, Governance, and Foreign Policy.

Ajit M. Banerjee’s Maxwell story began at age 17, in the gardens of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, when he accompanied his father to a reception given by the President. There he met Paul Appleby, dean of the Maxwell School from 1947 to 1956, on his seminal 1952 visit as an administrative adviser to the new Indian government. Appleby later visited Banerjee’s home, and reviewed for him a number of essays. Inspired by his influence, Banerjee attended the Maxwell School and earned his MPA in 1955, later forgoing PhD studies also at Appleby’s behest, so that he would return to India and begin serving his country. (Banerjee is pictured second row, far right.) Following a number of years in the India Institute of Public Administration, he was assigned to do a study which culminated to the publication of Organization of the Government of India, in 1958. This work led to an offer by the Rockefeller Foundation for doctoral work at NY University.


He returned to IIPA and was appointed Associate Professor in Public Policy. Following his tenure in the IIPA, Banerjee joined the United Nations as a regional advisor to the UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ESCAP), for which he assisted Asian and Pacific governments with administrative reform, restructuring of civil services, and development capacity building. Banerjee’s time with ESCAP led to his appointment as Deputy Director of the UN Center for Development Administration, for which he is most well known as being the main architect for the regional center based in Malaysia. After leading the Regional Center for a number of years, Banerjee was reassigned to the U.N. Headquarters in New York as the Special Advisor and Principal Coordinator for administrative reform, governance, and foreign policy programs. He led over 50 U.N. missions to governments in Asia, Middle East, West Africa, and Caribbean countries, and helped establish many foreign service training institutes. Banerjee’s work also led to his being part of a core group of specialists for political negotiations to several governments, including peace negotiations within Cambodia, Cyprus, Namibia, Haiti, and Afghanistan.


After spending 32 years with the U.N., Banerjee was awarded the Paul Appleby Award in 2013, for his outstanding service in Public Policy and Management. His new book, Global Perspectives on Foreign Policy of Major Powers, culminates a lifetime of foreign policy and governance wisdom, gathered together in a volume of work that reflects the Maxwell School’s founding principles of service and interdisciplinary citizenship education. His previous books are 'Renewing Governance', McGraw Hill, 1996, 'Reinventing the United Nations', Prentice-Hall, 2007, and 'United Nations International Civil Service: Perception and Realities', Academic Foundation, 2009.