Friday, April 22, 2011

The Yunus Affair : A Post-Mortem

Post-mortems are undertaken on things that are dead. The Yunus Affair is not exactly dead a court case is still pending. Frantic efforts are also being made to bring the issue to a “respectful” end. Yunus is down but not out, not completely anyway!    Perhaps CT scan is a better way to express and expose the present state of the Yunus Affair. CT Scans are useful tools to reveal body parts in their evolved conditions and thus help separating growths that are benign from the malignant.    The three month-long Yunus issue has revealed several aspects to it, not all are benign.         “Keya, Ek ghar me do pir?”    Shah Waliullah’s epic novel Lal Shalu narrates an incident where one day young son of a Pir ( religious sage) produces a miracle that outshines that of his ‘Pir’ father’s. This immensely upsets the father (the ‘Pir’). He could not accept the fact that someone other than him could or should have the gall to produce a miracle better than his, especially not by his own young son. The Pir roars, “Keya, Ek ghar me do Pir?” (What, there are two sages in the same household?) ; he orders his son, “Jao bachcha so raho (Go my child, off to sleep)”. The child goes off to sleep never to wake up again.    There are those who believe that the entire Yunus episode has been a stage managed affair. They believe that the way the saga unfolded itself from Heinemann’s Norwegian TV showing, that followed its enthusiastic reporting in some sections of the Bangladeshi media (alleged to be those having connections with the government or the PM) to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s “blood sucker” comments etc. and then in more recent times, the unceremonious sacking of Prof. Yunus from his position of Managing Director of the Grameen Bank demonstrates a pattern undertaken to demonize and marginalize the Nobel winning microcredit champion who not only outshines in fame Bangladesh’s multiple ‘doctorate’ Prime Minister but there may also be a perception that given the opportunity Prof. Yunus may even out-gun her politically.    The conspiracy theorists thus argue that the whole thing has been done to diminish all possibilities of a future political alternative in a country where it is not so much the party ideology but the cultist character of a leader that draws followings and empowers politicians to gain supremacy. Yunus is not a cult leader but a leader who commands genuine respect of millions, at home and abroad and thus to some, he may have appeared as an unwelcome and ominously potent second “Pir” in the house of Bangladeshi politics.    The final nail in the coffin of Yunus Affair came from none other than Sajib Wajed, Bangladesh Prime Minister’s US based son ( reportedly, an Advisor to the PM though no one knows how he got this position and exactly what he advises the PM on and whether his TOR qualifies him to comment on touchy and complex issues such as Yunus and microcredit respectively) . Wajed has since called Prof. Yunus a “fraud”. He also alleges that in the name of microcredit Prof. Yunus indulges in acts of “ theft”.    “Blood sucker”, “Thief”, Fraud” these are potent ingredients of a profound vilification project that starting with the mother has now ended up with the son. The curse has been cast, its detractors now expect Prof. Yunus to go into “ sleep” (from public life), never to wake up again!         Dada Vs Uncle Sam    Judging from the way how some section of the Indian press reacted to the Yunus issue it is not hard to see that elements of geo-politics may not be all that far from the current episode. In its regional hegemonic intents India certainly has interest in maintaining a docile political leadership in the country. Patriotic independent minded people like Prof. Yunus risks such equations. Also what is equally important to remember that in the present times India’s regional hegemonic intents are directly aligned with West’s similar global imperialist project.    In the evolving geo-politics of today, India is a first cousin of the world’s hegemonic fraternity it is an active member of West’s mutually beneficial twin goals of “ fight against terror” (read this as brutal subjugation of all forms of Muslim nationalist struggles that are currently raging from Palestine to Indian occupied Kashmir etc) and establishment of a counter force against China’s growth as a regional power. Thus even though US is visibly “troubled” by the Yunus Affair but in the context of the realities of today’s geo-politics India’s dictations regarding how to manage the project in its own backyard would reign supreme and are unlikely to be contradicted too much by any one let alone the US. No wonder we are now discussing options of a “compromise” deal.    We have an example around the corner of a situation similar to this. This example illustrates how power and potency of a regional superpower has the capacity to triumph over moral underpinnings of rest of the world. We are aware how against all odds and against sustained international condemnations backing of a self- seeking China, an emerging super- power has allowed the military junta of Myanmar to incarcerate and humiliate another Nobel Laureate, Ms. Aung San Su Chi in Myanmar for more than a decade. The lesson - you get away with murder provided you manage to garner, indeed not without a price, the backing of a powerful ally. Yunus’ foes are not acting alone.    As they say if you wish to learn things go to China. These days some of us choose to go to India. Whether we like it or not, in matters relating to the sub- continental issues Dada is likely to have greater sway over Uncle Sam in the region and hence, search for the so-called “compromise deal” to ensure that the so-called “deal” does not weaken too much the position of Dada’s subservient ally (ie, Yunus’ foe) and destabilize too much the current geo-political equilibrium in the region. On Yunus affair what is likely to happen is a deal be composed of a compassionate package and not a principled solution.    Deal or no deal and contrary to the wishes of his detractors Yunus is likely to rise again but will he be the same person? In this regard, Prof. Yunus may wish to draw some inspiration from what Nelson Mandela once had to say about great people, “Greatness of a person is measured lot less by his rising but more by the rising of his falling”.    What twist of bad luck the people of Bangladesh must have had to endure to experience a situation where its elected leader chooses to dishonour its most revered person, that too someone that brought such glory and fame to its country and people!