Open letter to Dr Yunus

DEAR Dr Yunus,

I have never met you, but you have been a major influence in my life. Last semester, a colleague who teaches development economics in our department asked if I could tell something about you and the Grameen Bank in her class. I went to her class to explain how the Grameen Bank works in Bangladesh and tremendously enjoyed answering students’ questions regarding how you founded the Grameen Bank and how it became so popular among the poor. I must also stress that students were very excited about social business, which not only helps the poor immediately, but also continues to help them by creating more jobs and services. I cannot express well enough how proud I felt that day to be a citizen of Bangladesh. I was filled with joy and happiness to think that our Bangladesh, which people in the West used to know as a country of corruption, famine, and flood, is now known as the motherland of microcredit and social business.

To many you are a ‘banker to the poor.’ To me you are also a dreamer and a teacher, who can teach how to unleash the unlimited potential hidden in every human being. You have touched millions of lives by teaching them how to be financially independent and by encouraging them to live up to their dreams. I know you and the Grameen Bank are going through an unusual time. But let me assure you, whatever the outcome of the current situation, it will only be the best for you and your dream to create a poverty-free world.

While the world has benefited a great deal from your thoughts and ideas, a lot more needs to be done in the future ‘to send poverty to the museum,’ as you said. Therefore, we cannot surrender to evil forces; rather we must gain strength from this struggle to help you become stronger than ever before to fight against poverty. I have no doubt that your microcredit and social business initiatives will only get stronger after emerging from the current situation. Millions of people in Bangladesh and around the world wish you to live long and wish for your dream to come true.

Rokon Bhuiyan
Fullerton, California

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NOBEL laureate Dr Mohammad Yunus is the pride of Bangladesh. The mechanism for microcredit devised and pioneered by Yunus is an effective tool for poverty alleviation appreciated widely both in the developed and under-developed countries. One is saddened by the negative attitude and assessment made by the government regarding the mechanism for microcredit and its proponent, Professor Yunus. It is true that the procedure adopted by the Grameen Bank is not perfect, but that may be due to flaws in the procedure for implementation. One could counter: have any government ever been successful in controlling the price of essentials in spite of repeated promises to do so? Yes, there may be minor distortions in the distribution procedure of microcredit but those are too small to undermine the overwhelmingly positive aspects of the procedure devised by the Nobel laureate.

One should not be misguided by the sudden gesture of sympathy and support Moudud Ahmed and the opposition leader have shown in this regard. What have they done to promote microcredit and help the poor while they were holding the rein for the government? The negative assertion on the Grameen Bank made by the prime minister once again demonstrates that our leaders in the political sphere have difficulty in breaking out of the narrow spectrum infested with partisan interests. Dr Yunus’s personal integrity is impeccable. In the last two decades, there were two events, the launching of microcredit by Yunus and the introduction of national ID card by the Election Commission, that have had immense social impact nationwide. The former helped mobilisation of a large segment of the poor and helpless people, especially women, into active economic participation and the latter invigorated a social transformation and enfranchised a large part of the population, the poor and hitherto ignored, with self-esteem and accountability.

Aiboque Smith
Forest Hills, New York, USA

  Banker to the Poor Banker to the Poor GF USA