Friday, April 1, 2011

ANY JACK - ASS CAN KICK A BARN DOWN : How Long This Tirade Against Yunus To Continue?

As they say, 'any jack-ass can kick a barn down, but it takes a carpenter to build it." This is exactly what is happening in Bangladesh over the continued control of the Grameen Bank by its founder Nobel laureate Dr. Yunus. Some people hate him and can't tolerate his fame as a leader of the women empowerment programme of the country. So he must be removed immediately from the post of the Managing Director of the Grameen Bank (GB).    From the heat spread around, it seems that the whole administrations, top to bottom, is ' up in arms' to fight Dr. Yunus and throw him out of the GB which he had built up brick by brick out of nothing to give a grand shape and colour to his much-dreamt-of organisation. And the end result was his tremendous success in building up an institution for the empowerment of the country's poor masses from their endless misery. And he continued to receive world-wide attention and recognition.    In fact, it made Dr. Yunus an international icon for the impoverished third world's poverty- stricken peoples and he was greeted with the world's most- coveted award of Nobel Prize for Peace in 2006 , followed by US Presidential Medal for Freedom - American's highest civilian award - bestowed by US President Obama, in addition to a large number of other international awards. Unfortunately, when his reputation was flying high as an innovative personality for the world's impoverished people, he never received any recognition from successive governments in his own country - Bangladesh.         The Govt's stand    The country is now filled with all sorts of rubbish, heaped up against Nobel laureate Dr. Yunus apparently to enjoy a vicarious joy by some people. They are banking on the argument that Dr. Yunus should be removed immediately from the post of GB's MD since he was holding the post illegally for the last ten years after passing the official retirement age of 60. But they overlooked that the GB is neither a government bank, nor a government-sponsored body. And as such, it is not compulsory that the rules of official retirement-age be applied to Dr. Yunus, simply because the government owns 20 % stake in the bank while 80 % shares are owned by poor borrowers in the rural areas. It is up to the vast majority of the owners to decide if they want to keep Dr. Yunus as their bank's MD. Now the pertinent question is: 'Where were these officials during the last ten years? Was it a big 'stunami' shake that woke them up suddenly from their long deep slumber to shout, 'wolf'-' wolf'! Thus the way the government is moving against Dr. Yunus shows that its intention is to pull him down from the honourable position that he enjoys throughout the world.    No doubt, it takes time to go through a long process to settle a complex and controversial problem amicably in the greater interest of the GB's stability and effectiveness and the poor people who enjoy the benefits. So it couldn't be justifiable on the part of the government leaders to throw a globally acclaimed personality like Dr. Yunus out on a flimsy ground. The government's whimsical decision is actually generating popular support for Yunus from political and civil society leaders at home and around the world which is actually going against the government and the country. There is still time left for the government leaders to change the course and save the situation before it further deteriorates.    The national media had earlier reported how our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina dealt with Dr. Yunus recently when she inaugurated the 'Boi-Mela' and the Indian Nobel laureate Amratya Sen was present by her side; but Bangladesh's only Nobel Prize winner Dr. Yunus couldn't be seen anywhere at that function. This was really shocking. This is not to dishonour Professor Amratya Sen who has always shown special soft corner for Bangladesh and deserves to be honoured. But one would have liked to see that Yunus too is given the honour he richly deserves in his own country. Dr. Yunus' problem was that he had attempted to launch a political party in 2007 to fight the monopoly of the two top political parties. Soon after, however, he withdrew from the field concluding that 'politics was not his cup of tea.' How could that be a crime? Like any Bangladeshi citizen, he has the right to express his views and call a spade a spade.