Friday, February 24, 2012


It must be the biggest joke of the decade that Bangladesh Prime Minister, widely known for her role in removing Muhammad Yunus from Grameen Bank, is now proposing to the European Union for making him the head of the World Bank (WB). 

She made the proposal at a meeting with a visiting delegation of European MPs who had their earlier meeting with Dr Muhammad Yunus expressing high appreciation for his innovative micro-credit programme and social business theory. 

However, the people and probably her party men doubt whether it is at all an honest proposal on the part of Sheikh Hasina who had bitterly criticised Dr Yunus as "blood sucker" of the poor. 

Sheikh Hasina, possibly out of her disgust for and fear of Professor Yunus, recently accused the Nobel laureate of obstructing the Padma Bridge funding. On several occasions in recent years, she tried to project herself in close proximity with Indian Nobel laureate Amartya Sen by showing total disregard for the only Nobel winner in her own country.

Widely criticised

However, Sheikh Hasina has been widely criticised in and outside the country for her handling of the Yunus affair. Many have even suggested that the World Bank's refusal to go ahead with the Padma project had something to do with Dr Yunus, who has allegedly used his powerful friends in Washington to lobby against Bangladesh's case. Professor Yunus has all along denied any such possibility.

Muhammad Yunus has said that he could not meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina even after trying to seek an appointment with her and that forcing him out from the Grameen Bank was totally unnecessary.

"We've never had a face-to-face meeting although I've tried to seek an appointment so that I could see her, but it never happened," Yunus said in an interview published in the India Ink section of the New York Times web site on Wednesday.

Explaining his relationship with Sheikh Hasina, Dr Yunus said, "She never explained so I don't understand what went on, just speculation of various types in the press. One is that she feels I'm a political threat, I don't know why I'm a political threat. This is again speculation. She never said that I'm a political threat. Probably she would say, "Why should I think he's a political threat, he's not in politics. Who is he? He is nothing."

Grameen Bank at risk

On his removal from Grameen Bank, he said "It was totally unnecessary. It makes no sense. There is no meaning to it. But it puts Grameen Bank at risk, and that's what worries us".

"They removed me and still they couldn't find a replacement. We're worried about the future of the bank. Because after all this, the bank is owned by poor people. The borrowers own 97 per cent of the shares of the bank and the government owns only 3 per cent," Dr. Yunus added.

Since the Western world including the European Union and the US have been consistently expressing concern for Grameen Bank and speaking high about Professor Yunus, Sheikh Hasina perhaps tried to give an oblique reply by suggesting the top World Bank job for Yunus so that her future political threat is away from the country. 

If really some thing happens positively for Dr Yunus in the World Bank, Sheikh Hasina and her admirers would be happy to say that after all it was she who promoted the idea first. A clever move indeed.