Ginandjar attended Kanisius College in Jakarta. His frequent association with students of other nationalities and religious backgrounds fueled his nationalism. After one year of studying at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) in West Java, he was awarded a scholarship to Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, where he studied chemical engineering from 1960 to 1965.
Upon returning to Indonesia on 15 October 1965 in the aftermath of a failed military coup, Ginandjar worked for the military's Supreme Operations Command (KOTI) for one year. In 1967, he served as General Director of Research and Development at the Indonesian Air Force, and from 1968-1971 he was head of the Analysis and Legislation Research Bureau at the Cabinet Secretariat. He is a visiting professor at Waseda University.
Ginandjar has been active in politics since the 1970s when he sat in Suharto's cabinet. He has always called himself a nationalist, due to the influence of his parents who were both National Party of Indonesia (PNI) activists before World War II.
Ginandjar served as Minister of Mining, and Energy and State Minister of PPN/Head of the Indonesian National Development Planning Agency Bappenas.
He has been attacked as a part of the "New Order," but argued that his membership in the cabinet was professional. Ginandjar commented, "I'm a part of the system, but I'm a professional in the cabinet."
Ginandjar played a role in encouraging Suharto to resign in May 1998 when he and other ministers refused to sit in the reformation cabinet to be formed by president Suharto. When it became clear that it would be hard for Suharto to form a cabinet, the president chose to stand down in favor of his vice president B.J. Habibie.
In October 2004, Ginandjar was elected the first speaker of the newly formed DPD. He won 72 of 128 votes in a run-off against Irman Gusman, who together with La Ode Ida became his deputies. He completed his five-year term on 1 October 2009 and was succeeded by Irman Gusman.
In late March 2001, state prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Ginandjar for alleged corruption that caused state losses of $24.8 million. His arrest was delayed because he was hospitalized for tests on his stomach. He was arrested on 6 April 2001 at a Jakarta hospital and held at the detention center at the Attorney General’s Office compound. He denied any wrongdoing and said his arrest was politically motivated and ordered by then-president Abdurrahman Wahid. Ginandjar challenged the arrest warrant and tried to sue the Attorney General's Office for wrongful arrest.
He was a suspect in a case involving PT Ustraindo Petro Gas, a company owned by Suharto’s middle son Bambang Trihatmodjo and state oil and gas firm Pertamina. Ginandjar was mines and energy minister when Pertamina paid for Ustraindo’s costs in developing four oil fields, whereas Ustraindo was contractually required to cover the costs. The arrangement caused state losses of $18 million. State prosecutors said the terms of the government-company production sharing contract were altered to Ustraindo’s benefit, inflicting additional state losses.
Ginandjar was released after a month. He acknowledged it was difficult to shake off corruption allegations because he was part of the Suharto regime. “Saying that I'm not corrupt is a bit like the saying: 'I'm not beating my wife.' No one ever believes you," he said in 2001.
- Order of Kuwait IV Class, Kuwait (1978)
- Dr. Honoris Causa from Takushoku University, Japan (1994), Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan (2005), Northeastern University, U.S. (1994) and Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta (1995)
- Bintang Mahaputra Adipradana (1987)
- Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (2008)
- Pembangunan untuk Rakyat (Development for the People, 1996
- Administrasi Pembangunan: Perkembangan Pemikiran dan Praktiknya di Indonesia
- Developmental Administration:Development of Its Thought and Practice in Indonesia, 1997)
- "Indonesia and Japan - 50 Years of Partnership", Prof. Dr. Ginandjar Kartasasmita, Embassy of Japan in Indonesia.
- "Visiting Professor Ginandjar Kartasasmita receives the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun" Daily Yomiuri
- Ginandjar Kartasasmita (2013). Managing Indonesia's Transformation: An Oral History. Singapore, New Jersey, London: World Scientific. p. 500. ISBN 978-981-4405-38-6.
- Ginandjar Kartasasmita (2013). Managing Indonesia's Transformation: An Oral History. World Scientific. pp. 28–. ISBN 978-981-4405-39-3.
- "Profil - Ginandjar Kartasasmita Politisi, Birokrat". merdeka.com. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
- Roland Rich (23 June 2014). Parties and Parliaments in Southeast Asia: Non-Partisan Chambers in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. Taylor & Francis. pp. 175–. ISBN 978-1-317-60553-9.
- "Irman Gusman, Ketua DPD Terpilih". republika.co.id. 3 October 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
- "Ex-Suharto minister arrested in hospital ward for corruption". Utusan Melayu. AFP. 7 April 2001. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
- Mcbeth, John (19 July 2001). "Ginandjar: Wahid Tries Foes Because of Grudges". Far Eastern Economic Review. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
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