Nepali Times Asian Paints
The case against Yunus


Nobel Laureate Muhammed Yunus's position as managing director of the Grameen Bank, the pioneering microcredit body in Bangladesh, is still in the balance. Earlier this month, Bangladesh's central bank sent a letter saying that he was no longer the managing director as he is 10 years past the age of retirement. The case is now before the Supreme Court, but there are vastly different opinions on its validity.

Mahfuz Anam, editor-in-chief of the Daily Star, the country's biggest English daily, is an avid Yunus supporter. "To me the whole situation is baffling. It totally goes beyond anything I can understand," says Anam of the situation the founder of the Grameen Bank faces.

Four years ago, Yunus tried to set up a political party during a period of emergency rule and although he quickly withdrew from the process, he said some very harsh words against politicians such as the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

"When I consider all the explanations that are being floated, the fact that Yunus criticised Hasina makes the most sense because Sheikh Hasina and the Awami League are basically political creatures. They judge everything politically," muses Anam.

"Yunus may delve into politics in the future. He has a huge profile and has personally touched the lives of many. If he does enter politics in the future he could be a real threat, but this does not explain the vitriolic nature of the hatred that seems to reflect some of their actions," he says.

At a coffee shop on the other side of Dhaka, journalist, businessman and friend of the prime minister, Mozammel Babu has a very different view. "There is no vendetta. Rather I would say this government was very soft towards Dr Yunus. If it was not Dr Yunus in these circumstances he would be put in jail," he says. He argues that there were very serious allegations against him.

"I believe over a period that Dr Yunus violated the service rule exceeding 60 years of age, the service rule for joining politics and financial regulations for lending money. Over a period I believe it will be proven that he has actually siphoned off money from the Grameen Bank to other concerns," says Babu.

The Grameen Bank and Dr Yunus vigorously deny these allegations, as does Mahfuz Anam. "Not a shred of evidence has been provided to support those allegations. They say that he or his family directly benefited from these actions, but to the best of my knowledge this is absolutely false. Nowhere in all these ventures does Yunus or his family own a single dollar worth of shares," he says.

Anam argues the government will come off worse in the controversy. "What I really find irrational is that the cost to the government's image is going to be far, far greater than whatever marginal advantage they may find by removing Yunus from the Grameen bank," he adds.

Mozammul Babu, however, thinks the Grameen Bank has nothing to fear from the government. He also argues that it is now a matter of sovereignty for the government and they must hold firm.

"Bad publicity is unfortunate. There are people within Bangladesh who are helping to attract this bad publicity. The West, donor groups, so-called civil society and some well-regarded newspapers are actually working as media partners for Yunus. Nationalist feeling is growing very rapidly. So we will resist any aggression from the West in Bangladesh in the name of Dr Yunus," says Babu.

1. Mohan Man Sainju

The whole saga is an unfortunate.In view of the evidence shown by Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and by micro credit throughout the world This episode must end amicably.

Prof. Rehman Sobhan,an eminent economist of Bangladesh suggest that PM Hashina show statesmanship and invite Prof. Yunus and clear misunderstanding and Yunus be removed as MD but appointed as Chairperson of Grameen Bank.Hence both legal issue and politics taken care.We all should support it. 

2. bichharibaaje
The contribution of micro credit in uplifting millions out of poverty is yet to be proven with verifiable data. For the celebrity starved masses of east and west, Mohammad Yunus provides an image of a  miracle man with handsome and smiling face. The achievement of micro credit is blown out of proportion. This does not mean that Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia are not responsible for Bangladesh's current misery. With Khaleda now in political wilderness, there is no doubt, that Hasina is trying to nip in bud a possible political challenge to her.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)