Professor Mohammed Yunus and his Nobel Peace Prize
Bangladesh Nobel Peace Prize Winner Dr. Mohammed Yunus argued that 'a non-elected government of individuals' or a 'group of select few' would be the best form of government to hold elections. Elections conducted by a political government is not the right form of government to conduct elections, he added. As per his opinion, elected governments must leave office and allow 'a select group of non-elected people' to hold elections and under such arrangement, elections could be termed as 'fair and free'. Otherwise not. This means that the elections in USA, UK, India, Canada, or basically in all developed and democratic countries that are conducted by political governments are neither fair nor free. If we follow this Nobel Prize Winner's prescription, then President Barack Obama and all Secretaries of States must leave their offices few weeks before the First Tuesday of November to allow a select group of people to conduct the upcoming election in USA. Such arrangement does not appear to be practical or convincing either in India or USA, the largest democracies in the world.
He stated that he will not allow elections in Bangladesh to be conducted by an 'elected government' --- election must be held by a non-political group like a non-government organization (NGO) or a select group of professionals. Politicians must not be allowed to hold elections. He recommended the elected governments to leave office prior to election. However, he did not say whether they should leave the responsibility of governance to him as he is the only Nobel Laureate in Bangladesh.
In 2006, Dr. Mohammed Yunus welcomed a 'military-backed government' in Bangladesh that ravaged and looted its economy and put most of the senior and veteran politicians and businessmen in jail including the leaders of two major political parties, the Awami League and the BNP. With a view to wipe out or weaken politics and politicians, that government lodged thousands of politically motivated false cases against political and business leaders.
Immediately after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Yunus launched a political party named "Citizen's Power'. Unfortunately, as he could not gather any support for his party, he had to abandon it. Now he is deadly opposed to political parties and also politicians.
He is campaigning both home and abroad against the current political government of Sheikh Hasina (that came to power with overwhelming popular votes) as it did not allow him to stay in his government job beyond the set retirement age. As per government rule, government appointed Managing Directors (MDs) of banks must retire by age 65. He was 71 and he refused to abide by the government rule and instead, he sue the government. The Court ruled against him and he had to leave his job. However, he is still occupying couple of floors of the Grameen Bank.
During the last election, Sheikh Hasina promised that if she is voted to powers, she would enforce 'rule of law' and 'good governance'. In order to establish 'good governance and rule of law', her government asked all MDs to follow the government regulation. Most did except Dr. Yunus. He asked for one-year grace period for transition. Because of his standing and reputation, the Hasina government allowed him one-year time for transition but he did not come up with any 'transition plan'. He argued that since he spent more than 250 days a year abroad and therefore, he did not get time to come up with 'transition plan' and he was unwilling to specify any timeframe for transition. Therefore, the government regulatory agency, the Bangladesh Bank (the Federal Reserve Bank) sent him a notice to quit.
In Bangladesh, the rich and famous and politically connected people have a tendency to illegally occupy or appropriate government jobs or public spaces like rivers, parks, open spaces and the like. Sheikh Hasina, in order to stop such evil practice uprooted many rich and famous from government lands and many of those people set up daily Newspapers and private Television stations (Hatir jeel was occupied by a media group and she forced them out and built a lovely park) and their media ever since are in a crusade against Sheikh Hasina government although its achievements in economic and social areas are simply remarkable. In many areas, it is better than that of its neighbors like India and Pakistan. For example, it reduced its poverty rate by more than half--- from 59% to 26% now. It achieved or on tract in achieving most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) such as MDG-1 (poverty eradication), MDG-2 (Primary school enrolment), MDG-3 (gender empowerment), MDG-4 (infant mortality), MDG-5 (maternal mortality) and MDG-6 (HIV/AIDs and malaria, sanitation), etc. Because of its remarkable achievements, Bangladesh is now known as a 'Model of Economic Development' and a 'Standard-bearer of South Asia' (Wall Street Journal). In spite of global financial crises while there has been near stagnant GDP growth rates in many European countries, Bangladesh maintained an average of over 6.3% GDP growth rate during the last 5 years and its export earnings increased from $6 billion to $25 billion and its home remittance also increased from $3.2 billion in 2006 to nearly $14 billion. Most important, it achieved near self-sufficiency in food and drastically reduced power shortage. It increased its power supply from 3,200 MWs to nearly 8,700 MWs in 4 years time. It took nearly 37 years from 1972 to 2009 for Bangladesh to generate 3,200 MWs. But during the current government (2009-13), it increased it nearly 3-fold, not a mean achievement.
Since Dr. M. Yunus left the Grameen Bank, the performance of the bank has enhanced and its total borrowers, its total loans and repayment also increased. More importantly, no new cases of suicide deaths due to micro-credit lending and coercion for repayment has been reported since the government imposed restriction and upper ceiling of maximum 27% interest rate to be charged for such micro-lending. Since micro-credit lending was allowed free hand, there has been mushroom growth of micro-lenders and interest rate of many of such micro-lenders exceeded 60 per cent. Such arrangement created many bonded-slaves and few committed suicide.
Micro-credit lending without collateral was first initiated in Connecticut (USA) after the Great Depression of 1930s and it had one principle--- lend money at an affordable rate and such was later widely replicated in Colombia. Microcredit Bank of Colombia was the first micro-credit bank in the world and it was established in 1962 and it had over 600,000 borrowers. Following it, Dr. Yunus founded the 'Grameen Bank' in Bangladesh after 20 years of Microcredit Bank of Colombia in 1982. He is credited for his innovation of engaging 'peer group' for better repayment, engagement of mostly women borrowers and for spreading the micro-financing concept across nations.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, First Lady Hillary Clinton and Queen Sofia of Spain, the first Micro-credit Summit was held in Washington D. C. in 1996 and following the Summit, Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN Anwarul Karim Chowdhury created an 'Ambassadors Club of Microcredit' at the UN and Sheikh Hasina government took initiatives to pass a UN resolution for its adoption across countries. In 1998, when the Grameen Bank was about to be collapsed as its borrowers were unable to make repayment due to devastating flood, Sheikh Hasina government extended a grant of over $300 million to save the Grameen Bank. Irony is that now Dr. Mohammed Yunus is spreading the message that the Sheikh Hasina government is out there to destroy this Nobel Prize awarded institution as it refused him to continue beyond the retirement age and also not to divert its resources away from helping the poor. Mohammed Yunus' closet friend has become his worst enemy now.
When Norwegian media exposed diversion of $100 million away from the Grameen Bank and Bangladesh media became vocal, Sheikh Hasina, the closet friend of Mohammed Yunus had no other alternatives but to look into it and in the process, it unearthed that nearly 54 private institutions including Grameen Phone received both financial guarantee and diverted funds for its business venture. It also unearthed that none of the poor shareholders ever received any dividend nor payment from the Grameen Bank although theoretically they are known to be its shareholders.
Rich and famous are powerful as they have friends both home and abroad, and no wonder, billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, as per the British and FBI investigations was involved in bribery, hacking and corruption, yet he is free and still his media and money empire is manipulating political offices and elections across nations--- from John Howard to Kevin Rudd in Australia, Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair in UK, and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in USA. Rich and famous has a tendency to manipulate leaders and also elections and therefore, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Dr. Mohammed Yunus has a right to follow his 'clan of rich and famous' just like Rupert Murdock.
Nobel Peace Prize winners are generally controversial personalities and many of them cannot live in their own countries and if they live, they spend their lives mostly in prisons. It is believed that most of such winners are implants in poorer countries as a vehicle to promote the views and interest of the rich and powerful coterie. Are they really another tool of neo-colonialism?
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