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Muhammad Yunus
Muhammad Yunus

The government of Bangladesh did not snatch away Nobel Peace Prize from Dr. Muhammad Yunus which was bestowed on him by the imperialist powers, and in any case they have no power to do so. They simply have removed him from his post of managing director of Grameen Bank on legal grounds. This was done according to the rules of the Bangladesh Bank and the law of the land. The merit of this action was examined by the High Court, where Yunus filed a case appealing against the government decision. The High Court dismissed the writ after hearing from both sides. The case has been dismissed again by the Supreme Court as well.

The said action of the government against Yunus was taken for certain irregularities committed by him and it is a domestic matter of Bangladesh. We find that those imperialist powers, particularly the US government and the Clinton clique, who manipulated the Nobel Prize for Yunus, have very sharply and bitterly reacted against this decision of the government.

For a long time we have been critically analysing the activities of Yunus and the Grameen Bank just for the reason that very tall claims are being made on behalf of the Bank and for himself by Yunus. He claims to have invented a theory which says that the right to secure loan is a ‘birth right’ of man. He claims that by extending loan to the poor, he has been successful in alleviating poverty in Bangladesh to a large extent and by 2030 he would send poverty to the museum as a relic of the past. While making this obviously ludicrous claim he exposes himself as a person who miserably fails to understand that poverty is not a thing, it is not an archaeological artefact, but the result of relations which exist between people in the course of production and other social affairs.

The Grameen Bank undoubtedly is a successful operator of small loans to rural poor like many NGOs, and has established a record in this which is far better than the ordinary commercial banks. For this achievement the Grameen Bank may be awarded an international award for its success in managing small loans. But it must be emphasised that it has nothing to do with peace. Moreover, Yunus himself was never found to protest against any kind of repressions on the people which are perpetuated by government agencies and other predator social forces. He was never found to utter a word against military interventions, aggressions and predatory wars of imperialists on countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. He was never found to play any role in easing tensions or establishing peace between conflicting interests and groups in Bangladesh or anywhere else. He actually had never anything to do with peace. On the contrary, he had always fraternised with those who make wars and disturb peace at home and abroad. In spite of this he was awarded Nobel Prize for peace by the imperialist cliques to promote their political and other interests in Bangladesh. It was no surprise that he was given the Nobel Prize in 2006 suddenly on the eve of the military takeover of the administration in January, 2007.

Yunus managed the affairs of the Grameen Bank as an autocrat and like any other autocrat he had no compunction in committing irregularities. He was not accountable to anybody and did everything in a cavalier manner. He exercised the authority of appointing all employees and even directors. His appointment as Managing Director of the Bank had always been basically an act of his own, and in these matters the role of the Board of Directors was nominal. He took all major decisions over the head of the Board of Directors of which he was not a member. If the relation of Managing Director and the Board of Directors is examined, it will be found to be a very extraordinary arrangement. The Board always acted as an utterly subservient body to the Managing Director.

In all regards, the rules of Grameen  Bank were extraordinary and the concessions granted to it by the government in conducting its affairs was in contradiction with all banking practices followed in this country. However, these administrative matters including the rules of conducting the business of Grameen Bank are not a matter of our real concern and we leave it to the Enquiry Committee which has been instituted by the government to investigate into the affairs of the Bank. Our real concern is the situation on the ground.

Here it is not possible to detail the consequences of small loan business of the Grameen Bank. But one thing must be made clear. We are not opposed to small loans or micro credit, because such loans are desperately needed by the rural poor, particularly the peasants and artisans who are engaged in production. Rural money lenders had always acted as such loan-giving agents for centuries during the feudal period and they still continue to do so. Fraudulently and mischievously, Yunus is glorified as the first ‘banker to the poor’ who has redeemed the poor of the countryside, particularly the poor women whereas the fact is that the traditional rural moneylenders have historically performed the task of lending to the poor. Even the NGO’s who were launched by the then World Bank President Robert Macnamara in the ‘70s started lending to the poor before the establishment of the Grameen Bank.

The NGO’s and the Grameen Bank were launched by the imperialists with the active help and co-operation of the government not for alleviating or eradicating poverty. Their principal objective in this was to perpetuate poverty and to distract the attention of the poor from political struggles for changing basic relations of production as well as social relations which create and preserve the conditions of poverty. Here there is no scope for elaborating this point but it is necessary to mention that the greatest noise is made for the Grameen Bank and its so-called mission for eradicating poverty by those who are the recognised enemies of the poor working people of the world including the people of Bangladesh. These noise makers represent the forces which exploit the poor everywhere, twist the hands of poor countries dependent on them and do not have the slightest compunction in wantonly attacking countries which dare to resist their advances. These are the countries which unhesitatingly bomb the poor in other countries and commit genocide as they recently did in Iraq and are currently doing in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya.

The reaction of these forces which include imperialist countries like the US, France, Britain, Germany and others of Europe and elsewhere and their lackeys and flunkeys in countries like Bangladesh is a clear indication of the interest which Dr. Yunus serves. It is insane to think that against whose removal from the post of Managing Director of Grameen Bank the imperialist powers are raising a hue and cry can, by any stretch of imagination, be a friend of the poor in any country and who can lead a programme for eradicating or even alleviating poverty of those who are subjected to the worst kind of exploitation by local ruling classes, governments and imperialist powers.

In this context, it is interesting to note that the loanees or borrowers of Grameen Bank, in no area of Bangladesh, has so far brought  out any demonstration in favour or Yunus and against the government decision to remove him from the post of Managing Director. Recently, a handout of Grameen Bank says that about three million loanees have signed a protest statement against Yunus’ removal. But demonstrations and protest statements are very different acts. It is very easy to get any paper signed by the loanees by local Grameen Bank officials.

And even then, there is no certain evidence that such a statement has actually been signed by 3 million loanees. The whole matter may be a lie and a fraudulent propaganda on behalf of a section of Grameen Bank officials loyal to Yunus.

In spite of this lack of support for Yunus from the Grameen Bank, loanees who are said to be the “real owners” of the Bank, it is amazing to see the kind of international support organised in favour of Yunus. They eulogise the achievements of Dr. Yunus in order of protect his position in the Grameen Bank. Under the presidentship of a former president of Ireland, a ‘committee of friends of Grameen’ has been formed with its headquarters in Paris. On 30th March in a question-answer session of the French National Assembly, the French foreign minister Alain Juppe said, ‘‘the Grameen Bank’s micro credit model has been unanimously recognised as a ‘magnificently successful’ poverty alleviation tool and replicated across the world, particularly to help empower women in developing countries’’ (Daily Star 1.4.2011). This statement of the French minister is no exception. The likes of this statement are being issued regularly by imperialist representatives and their flunkeys in Bangladesh. But the fact is that except the people who issue such statement no one recognises Grameen Bank micro credit model as ‘magnificently successful’ in alleviating poverty in Bangladesh. No one recognises the role to Grameen Bank in empowering women in Bangladesh.

Women in Bangladesh are subjected to various kinds of exploitations and repressions all over the country, particularly in the rural areas. The poor women in the countryside are still the most oppressed among the people and are regularly victimised by the rural exploiters and oppressors including the mullahs who often deliver fatwas against them. Dr. Yunus of Grameen Bank fame was never found to protest, in any form, against such atrocities.

It does not require any great learning or wisdom to theoretically understand that poverty alleviation and empowerment of woman have noting to do with money-lending business whatever may be the terms of such lending. Even a modest survey of the situation on the ground in the rural areas reveals to any one that there has not been any perceptible poverty alleviation through disbursement of rural credit by the Grameen Bank or any other NGOs, though there may be some exceptional cases where some loanees have been able to improve their financial situation by making clever use of such loans.

No elaborate discussion on the ‘achievement’ of Yunus is necessary to emphasise the point that his main achievement is management of the lending operation of the Grameen Bank. Its business has been extended to very large areas in Bangladesh, the number of borrowers from the Bank has reached, according to their own statement, up to more than eight million and that through a special mechanism of control its rate or realisation is 98%! This success would not have been possible without massive foreign financial contribution and many special concessions and privileges granted by the government to this Bank which are not available to other commercial banks.

The function of this banking business of Grameen is no different from that of traditional small loan business operated for hundreds of years by rural money lenders called mohajons. Basically, it helps small production carried out by peasants and artisans and various kinds of small scale economic activities. Thus the relentless propaganda carried out by imperialist circles and their flunkeys in Bangladesh has nothing to do with the actual work and ‘achievements’ of the Grameen Bank and its famous Managing Director Dr. Yunus claims that the eight million loanees are the owners of the Bank and that they are regularly paid dividends. This claim is completely false and fraudulent. Any investigation on the ground reveals that no loanee  of the Bank has any ownership document and more of them has any paper related to dividend  no one reports to have ever received any dividend. But the stereotyped and ceaseless imperialist propaganda goes on and their international media, both electronic and print, extensively carry out such propaganda to which many well-meaning people fall victims.

Bangladesh Bank and the government of Bangladesh have removed Yunus from the post of Managing Director. The imperialists are saying that without him Grameen Bank would cease to function as an ‘alleviaor of poverty’ and will lose its character. It is a completely false and motivated propaganda because, as has been said earlier, it has no such character. What actually may happen after his removal is a series of reforms in Grameen Bank’s operational practice which will bring some relief to the borrowers and reduce the profit of the Bank.

It may also reduce the inflow of foreign capital into the Bank and weaken the position of Dr. Yunus as an agent of multinational corporations who promote his ‘social business’.

The imperialists, through their massive image-building propaganda have tried to elevate Yunus to the position of a demigod, a redeemer of the poor and the downtrodden. They have tried to portray his activities as a panacea of poverty and a means of empowerment of women. The main objective in building up the image of Yunus in this manner is twofold. First to use him for opening investment opportunities for exploiting surplus from the poor of the country and secondly, and more importantly to use him for political purposes. This became quite obvious when he was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2006, on the eve of military takeover of the Bangladesh government in which the US and the Europeans had a hand. Subsequently, Yunus attempted to usurp political power taking advantage of the then existing situation by trying to organise his own political party. His attempt failed miserably because of his complete personal inability to understand the political process and to take appropriate stops for building a party. Consequently, he soon proved himself to be a political flop. But the imperialists have not given up the hope of using him as their pawn in the political game which they may need to play in times of crisis. It is for this reason that the Norwegian government, after accusing him of financial dishonesty quickly retracted their position in order to save his image by exonerating him from charges which they themselves made against him.

The consternation in the imperialist circles after the removal of Yunus from the position of Managing Director of the Bank and the lining up of the NGOs and the gentlemen of the Bangladesh civil society behind him has completely exposed the true character of Yunus. It has also exposed the faces of persons and institutions in this country who act in the interest of imperialism as their flunkeys. It has clearly demonstrated that Yunus, the much advertised ‘banker to the poor’ does not really represent the interest of the poor and the downtrodden in this country, but that of their national and international exploiters and oppressors. Whether may be the conspiracy of the imperialists, it will be difficult for them to use Dr. Yunus, with his “shining” anti-people and anti-poor image, as their political instrument on any future occasion of political crisis.


Badruddin Umar, a leading Marxist politician, contributes to major national newspapers and writes usually in Bangla.

71 Responses to “The story of Dr. Yunus and Grameen Bank”

  1. Fazlul Bari

    Yunus is a victim of his pride and arrogance, nothing else. Is any Nobel laurite is so controversial in this world as Yunus? But one thing is sure that he has great lobby machine in the West.

  2. Zahir Karna

    First, Marxism is not a “failed economic system”. It is a philosophy of society, which is not “failed” or “successful” more or less than any other system except when qualified to specific situations. And Marxism – meaning the interest in social welfare, and recognition of asymmetry of power in society – is far from dead and is very much alive in the academy, and informs the thought and plan of the future. People interested in marxism are concerned for the welfare of all humanity in an active and innovative way, and marxist approaches are continually developing.

    Second, while I am not trained in author’s terminology, I do however agree with the simple point that Dr. Yunus has been built up as a figurehead by various forces, including western governments, as well as Bangladeshis interested for good PR for their country. But the fact remains, Nobel prize is just an award, and that there are many, many heroes in the world (and in Bangladesh)…many of which have truly impressive moral qualities, and are not just “lucky” like a businessman or investor might be lucky. Unfortunately, one element of knee-jerk defense of grameen bank IS a reflection of a slave (Bdeshis) happy to receive master’s (Power establishment) approval, which even I am not 100% free of.

    In conclusion, watching people blindly worship Dr. Yunus is quite pathetic. Let us see the truth of GB, and management. If it is seen he is not 100% pakka it will not be surprising…but better the truth come out, I would rather have an honest ambassador for Bangladesh in the world rather than false ambassador, Nobel prize be damned.

  3. M Moazzen Hossain

    It is pity that we keep on arguing about a matter that has merit on its own. Mr Badruddin Omar, a scholarly writer and political analyst and thinker of our contemporary times from early ’60s till now. What he has put forward is his analytical views on Dr Muhammad Yunus, a successful economist of merit and got Nobel on Peace – rather than on his field of activities- economics etc. We give our views keeping restrains on deliberation and mutual respect.

  4. Amin

    We have hypocrite people like Mr. Umar & that is why we can not secure our people & going backwards.

  5. Sarwar Alam

    Mr. Umar,
    We know you are a Marxist intellectual. One-time activist. You have dedicated your life in propagating Marxism for the welfare not only of the poor but the whole nation.

    The propagation of Marxist ideology should be directed to the people who are not well conversant with this and not to those who already are believers in Marxism. I have one observation about your writing about Dr. Yunus. You have used many very common phrases used by Marxist writers. Though the Marxists and the sympathisers of Marxist ideology will like these phrases the people in the border line and of course the people on the right may be right away alienated. But the success of a Marxist intellectual should be in winning over these segments of the population. Is it not possible to phrase your words and sentences, without negotiating with the content, keeping this in mind. I know it is difficult. But people like you should try to achieve this. Otherwise, I am afraid your whole effort may go to a waste.

  6. Roderick Finton

    The name ‘United Nation’ is itself misleading because many of the nations most probably have their own selfish and separate agenda, that does not benefit anyone other than themselves. I agree United Nation should be closed down and individuals or individual nations should solve their own problems with their neighbours in their own backyard. United Nation is just a big oversized organization that had been most probably misused by some leaders to further their inhumanity and totalitarian agenda.

  7. Mike Holding

    Unfettered truth is always a bitter pill to swallow. This piece and the harsh critiques that followed prove the fact. Mr. Umar is not a great fan of the current government led by Sk. Hasina and he is no way elated by the government measures. But Mr. Umar should also dig deeper into the motive of the government action. The PM sheikh Hasina is no way doing it to ensure a better life for the Grameen clients.

  8. Tristan

    But we should also be careful of people duping innocent women of Bangladesh. I don’t want to get into a debate with you Mr Rashed. It seems to me that you are someone who would deviate from the original topic and argue something else. So it won’t be prudent of me to ask you anything, instead I think it would be wise to raise the issue with the rest of the forum.

    Muhammad Yunus has long been playing an old record that the borrowers of the Grameen Bank is the owner of Grameen Bank. My question is what is the pattern of ownership in Grameen Bank? We know the general pattern of ownership of any business establishment, those who are part of the ownership enjoys the profit or suffers the loss that the company makes. But how do the Grameen borrowers enjoy the Bank’s profit or loss?

    On the other hand, each Grameen borrower (also a member of the GB) has to contribute Tk 1.00 per week. GB has 80 million borrowers (members) these days. Meaning these borrowers are contributing Tk 80 million each week and continuing all throughout the year. Can anyone clarify where this money is going and how the borrowers are being benefited?

    Another important issue! We know Muhammad Yunus, his background and the history of all his businesses (known as Grameen Sister Concern). Surprisingly in a recent statement, (after the government forcibly removed him from GB main body), Muhammad Yunus has been claiming in the media that these establishments a.k.a. Grameen Sister Concern have no relation with Grameen Bank! Can anyone please explain what he is talking about?

    Finally, I know well what high profit GB and other NGO’s make given the fact that they get grants and donations from all those rich nations and organisations. I know Muhummad Yunus is very powerful, prominent and influential. Even the government of Bangladesh couldn’t make him act accountable. But if anyone else ran his business like that of Muhammad Yunus, I wonder what people would call that person.

    • Rsalan

      Are you sure GB has 80 million members, that is half of the Nation’s population. Check your numbers please.

  9. Wayne world

    Mr. Umar, you bring shame to the word ‘intellectual’, and you bring shame to Bangladesh, if this is the quality of writing by a leading Bangladeshi intellectual. No morals, hypocritical, no logic, full of innuendos and false charges.

    My goodness, which world do you live in?

  10. Opu Alam

    The government of Bangladesh did not snatch away Nobel Peace Prize from Dr. Muhammad Yunus. Is this what Mr. Umar privily wished?

  11. Abu Raihan Al-Birunee

    There are couple of things on which I would like to comment. First of all the entire ‘micro credit’ system is very much admired for women empowerment and poverty elevation. I just want to ask have these two things really improved because of micro credit? Is there any positive change that could be visible? Also people who have bashed Badruddin Umar sir only for the sake of it did not mention any concrete information or analysis about what are the substantial things that Dr. Yunus has accomplished so far. I want to conclude by saying this ‘ It’s a very constructive thing to write articles, saying big words with utmost honesty, raise questions where many people even do not know how to ask question, where to question and why to question ‘ .

  12. Matiur Rahman

    To me, both proponents and opponents of the arguments in this piece got emotionally carried away. Both sides need to think more pragmatically putting preconceived biases aside. Their logic is overtaken by waves of emotion, in my view. Please take a deep breath.

  13. Eshon

    I am not a fan of Mr. Umar. But I have certain questions for the readers who responded.

    1. Why is the interest rate so high?

    2. If Grameen model is effective in poverty alleviation, why people are still living in poverty in areas Grameen have been active, even after 30 years of its operation?

    3. What is the relationship between Packages Corporation and Grameen? Does this relationship need more scrutiny?

    4. Has Grameen and Dr. Yunus have been transparent in all its practices?

    5. Why are the US and other Western countries so worried about whether Dr. Yunus retains his control over Grameen Bank or not? Is it out of purely altruistic motives?

    6. I assume the government is politically motivated in removing Dr. Yunus. But the fact is there that Dr. Yunus stayed on beyond the legal age limit. Is he above the law?

    7. Since Yunusists claim he has brought peace (Nobel peace prize winning, something won by Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat as well) to the world through micro-credit Grameen model, he must be judged and evaluated accordingly, not as a businessman or a successful entrepreneur. Does he stand up to the scrutiny?

    English is not my mother language. No doubt I shall be patronised or lectured on grammar and such. But I hope what I tried to say will get through.

    • DB Pride

      Read the article and a lot of the comments posted. It seems most hung tight to their ideology rather than look for answer to the questions posed by the writer. Many rejected the writing outright because the writer is supposedly a “Marxist”. One person was indecent to the point where he mocked the writer’s grammar, perhaps that’s all he/she learned to value when priority of education should be in free thinking.
      There were few who raised further questions through their comments and I would like to do the same.
      1. Based on a recent study on micro-lending foreign (I think by Norway) funding was slashed to Grameen Bank citing ineffectiveness of the program. What does that say about what we have been hearing all these days?

      2. If Grameen Bank is profitable than why does it need foreign funds or various breaks from government?

      3. How much dividend did the bank pay to its owners (apparently the poor people who borrow owns it) to date?

      4. How can a borrower claim or sell their share if they are shareholder?

      5. Is/was Dr. Yunus ever granted the status “you are above the law”? If not then why the fuss about removing him from violating law? Furthermore, should we not call for his punishment?

      6. Which is bigger: a man or an institution?

      I will end with this: Dr. Yunus formed a political party in a beautifully decorated living room when current law did not allow it as did few others. The purpose of a political party is to do good for people, bring prosperity, happiness and liberty for the mass among others. Just the fact that he did not even care to go to the mass and ask them what they wanted but thought he knows best is a sign of dictator on rise. (And yes I am aware of the text msg smoke in the screen)

      • ahmed

        1 – based on a study done by a documentary maker, which the norwegian government denounced.

        2 – it doesn’t get funds from foreign investors. however it does enjoy tax breaks, i would think alleviating poverty is a big priority in bd, and previous governments in bd seems to agree and thus the tax breaks.

        3 – its dividends are used to improve the life of the owners, not pay them direct profits of 10tk per month. i can’t explain what it does, there are books with 100s of pages explaining the idea. research “social business”

        4 – if they take a loan they own a share in the bank, if the get out of doing business with the bank – they lose the share.

        5 – sorry, i don’t get the problem. if it’s a matter of yunus’s age, than i will point out our finance minister is 6yrs older than him.

        6 – i believe an institution? … i don’t get what that has anything to do with anything

        as for your final point. he didn’t decide to form a party in his living room. he wrote a letter in the paper letting the entire country know, knowing full well that public scrutiny is quite possible. Hasina’s only qualification for ruling is her father being mujib, since you brought up dictators – let’s talk about jatiyo rakkhi bahini – known for killing mujib’s opponents

    • ahmed

      1 – bangladeshi interest rates are too high by nature, due to inflation and our lovely government failing to tackle corruption such as powerful people defaulting on massive loans , and the tax payers having to pay their loans back/ other borrowers pay higher interest rates to cover expenses.

      2 – if GB was as useless as you claim it is, than it wouldn’t have had any demand for it’s services, and wouldn’t have grown to what it is. businesses only flourish when they provide their customer a useful service – basic economics.

      3 – http://www.grameen-info.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1020&Itemid=924

      4 – i can’t prove that grameen bank is transparent. just as much as i cannot prove that the government of bangladesh isn’t.

      5 – so your argument is since the US/west supports him, he is bad?

      6 – our finance minister is 79 (6yrs older than yunus), can’t see him quitting.

      7 – lets see, he made a bank, which he selflessly allowed his borrowers to own rather than himself.

  14. Adela

    I couldn’t read the article to the end, I didn’t want to waste my time because it’s so obvious that this guy have never made an effort to visit even one village or centre meeting Grameen Bank borrowers. He didn’t have a need because it’s clear for him that his mission is to support this corrupt Bengali government.

    If he had just one conversation, he would have realised how many families and WOMEN OF BANGLADESH are grateful to Grameen Bank which radically changed their lives.

    • Mahbubur Rahman

      How do you know “the guy have never made an effort to visit even one village”! We have tendencies writing intellectual things without knowing anything.

      Mr. Umar did many researches on Bangladesh agriculture. He was leader of Krishok Federation, Khetmojur and krishok federation for long.

      He spent a significant part of his political career in the village while physically active in politics.

      Thereby we understand very well why you could not read the article to the end, and that it was “waste of time” for you.

  15. Mostak Ahmed

    It is really unfortunate that some western educated persons who do not have any relation with the common people are supporting an “Angel of Peace” who committed the most heinous crime by worsening the condition of millions of marginal people.

    If you investigate you will find their ancestors as ROY BAHADUR or KHAN BAHADUR. These elite neo-liberal people are the most opportunist segment of our society.

    • Abu Raihan Al-Birunee

      Your words are so true . Liked it very very much .

  16. Riaz Uddin

    Let me start from the beginning:

    (1) BU: “The government of Bangladesh did not snatch away Nobel Peace Prize from Dr. Muhammad Yunus”

    Does it somehow imply that, we should celebrate this kindness? Why is the Nobel Prize important at all in this conversation? Clearly, the interest of the Bank is put at stake, which is more than adequate reason to be concerned any citizen.

    2) Yunus was removed from his position according to the “law of the land” where it is equally possible to keep him in the post according to the “law of the land”. If BB gives him an approval as per the demand of the GB board, there will be no question of “illegality”. So the technical side of legality has been applied in an arbitrary fashion.

    Law is always a means-to-an-end, not an end-in-itself; law for the sake of law, can readily turn into an instrument of oppression. Except for the bureaucratic excuse of age, nothing has happened to demonstrate that removing Yunus from GB would be beneficial to the micro-finance industry or Grameen Bank. Rather, the bigger picture leads us to believe the contrary. So when the government is using the law to achieve an end which is defined in terms of the “means per se” there is a real reason to be concerned. And concerned we are.

    (3)About the interference of the imperialist power:
    This same axis of imperialism has also criticised the Gaddafi’s attack on civilians in Libya. Based on the same line of reasoning, since they opposed attack on civilians, should we necessarily support attack on civilians? Therefore, support of some bloc, is fragile as a basis of judgment. Thus freeing one’s mind from such could help.

    (4) BU: “The whole matter may be a lie and a fraudulent propaganda on behalf of a section of Grameen Bank officials loyal to Yunus.”


    “In spite of this lack of support for Yunus from the Grameen Bank”

    The first quote renders an unsubstantiated doubt about the demonstrated support of the Grameen borrowers, hundreds of whom were present in the press meet. But you have given more credibility to your imagination than to a visible truth. So your claim of “lack of support” rests solely on an imagination and should be discounted as such. However, that also brings the writer’s intention into question.

    (5) BU: “Dr. Yunus of Grameen Bank fame was never found to protest, in any form, against such atrocities.”

    Seems like you have overlooked the story behind Grameen carefully. The struggle of Grameen with rural religious leaders are now well documented both in the contributions of academics and practitioners, as well as in writing by Yunus himself. The struggle through which GB navigated across the restrictive rural environment to engage the female borrowers into economic activities is rather a commendable achievement of the Bank. But the author uses his freedom to doubt everything, but ignores the responsibility to prove his own claims.

    Secondly, as far as “protesting” is concerned, Yunus has proved by his lifelong activities that real action is more useful than writing something in the newspaper or blog. Building an institution from scratch to battle against poverty and gender discrimination on economic opportunities is something that touched the boundary of what is humanly possible.

    (6)BU: “Even a modest survey of the situation on the ground…”

    The problem is clearly in the “modest” survey; research methodology suggest that to assess impact of microfinance only carefully large-scale surveys could bring some reliable result. The underlying difficulties of impact assessment are also well discussed in literature, which you have overlooked for some reason. However, we even don’t know what “modest survey” you have carried out to this end. If empirical examination is reported legibly, meaningful discussion would be possible.

    (7) BU: “Their principal objective in this was to perpetuate poverty and to distract the attention of the poor from political struggles for changing basic relations of production as well as social relations which create and preserve the conditions of poverty.”

    This is the most interesting part of the whole piece. How can something distract the poor from the “political struggle”, if it is not effective? Haven’t you noticed that your statement is one of the best testimonies to the success of microfinance programs at large? If it would not help them increase their income and well being, how on earth would the poor be distracted from the so-called political struggle. We understand that the leftists/marxists need the poor for their own political ends. What follows from your argument is — “marxists” are disturbed that some poverty alleviation is happening– because Microfinance is being successful as a distraction from the political struggle.

    We understand the anxiety of the leftist intellectuals towards microfinance; however, why microfinance gets more attention than other potential target of criticism? This leads to a pernicious process of political attainment. At the end of the day, expecting the poor to suffer more, just for the sake of bringing them to a blood-shedding struggle to establish some ideological system is a morally delinquent channel to exploit the poor and powerless, which goes against the very goal of Marxism and socialism. So a careful second thought is long overdue.

  17. mamamian alok

    I can see almost everyone personally attacking Badruddin Umar. Perhaps they had high expectations from him.

    Why doesn’t anyone criticize what he wrote for a change?

    You guys think Mr. Umar is after success in the way this consumerist-society defines success! Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan established PARD in 1959. In every *Shonmobay Shomity* of Comilla you could find his picture hanging. I don’t believe Mr. Yunus gets that recognition from his borrowers’ society. And pls. don’t get all fired up, I love my country, Bangladesh. PARD is now BARD. It sounds better too. 🙂

    I know comparing two people is like comparing apples and oranges.

    By the way, someone somewhere said he doesn’t have any light in his heart, what would have happened if he had the light inside, Nirvana!!!

  18. Utshab Mosaddek

    Nice explanation of micro credit. Thanks to dear Umar Sir.

  19. Tapan

    Yet to make comments as we do not know what roles the ‘intellectuals’ will play in future (may be 100 years later) when the world must face a crisis within the contexts of severe inequality and discrimination rooted in the economy. Let’s see.

  20. P C Roy

    I totally endorse Mr Umar’s views. Can any one from Bangladesh say what the rate of interest for micro credit is? I’ve heard that it is huge. Then where is Dr. Yunus’ credit? He should be duly credited for managing a great financial organisation like Grameen Bank. He is a successful businessman, that’s all.

  21. Tyler Durden

    O my god! This piece is an absolute gem. I don’t even know where to begin to point out the logical fallacies with this piece. I mean, Marxism is a resounding failure to develop the international political economy: think Asian tigers.. even China has gone for increased open-market approaches after the abject failure of the Cultural Revolution. The Asian tigers are the nails in the coffin for Marx, as is the collapse of the Soviet Union. Long story short:Marx was wrong. This reveals something about a man who is a self-proclaimed Marxist: it shows that he likes to hold on to dogma far more than he cares to face objective reality.

    But aside from this, what really drew my attention is the language of the text. If I wrote this as a paper, my professors for econ or poli sci would not even give this a C. Everything, from archaic idioms to obnoxious punctuation riddle, this article like a bullet strewn Syrian political protester’s corpse.

    Consider this gem of grammar ‘It does not require any great learning or wisdom to theoretically understand that poverty alleviation and empowerment of woman have noting to do with money-lending business whatever may be the terms of such lending.’ Such a wordy statement would make any of my professors cringe. Consider idioms like ‘law of the land’ Even worse, look at this ‘The said action of the government against Yunus was taken for certain irregularities committed by him and it is a domestic matter of Bangladesh.’ The said action? And ‘it is a domestic matter of Bangladesh’? This makes my head spin ‘It is a completely false and motivated propaganda because, as has been said earlier, it has no such character. ‘

    This man needs some grammar classes, before we can get to the matter of economics classes.

    • Raihan Sharif

      One should be careful here. While it is very easy to mock Badruddin Umar’s grammar and vocabulary – English is after all not his mother tongue and he may have well learnt it in some British India Bengali village school – amid all the confusion he is trying to say something important: That Yunus’ removal as Grameen chief is not worth all that noise and fuss, that Yunus entered the political arena in a foolish way and is paying the price of a monster ego, but more importantly, that microcredit represents the bankruptcy of neoliberalism to really tackle the roots of poverty, a poverty which it actually contributes to and feels guilty about, and then grabs at concepts and practices like microcredit to alleviate its guilt. Microcredit is, Umar is saying, guilt alleviation, not poverty alleviation. Think a little before you condemn this old lefty out of the equation. Marxism may be finished in many ways but it still provides the most stinging and relevant critique of the existing order of inequity.

    • Tanvir

      Although Dr. Umar has long been known as a Marxist theorist, the current writing has nothing to do with Marxism. He didn’t draw any argument from Marx, instead, tried to demonise the Grameen Bank based on its association with the so-called “imperialist block”. Not only Umar, but all of the well-known leftists of Bangladesh have profound, preconceived detest for the US and Western Europe. One of their frequently drawn arguments is that a friend of the capitalist block is, by default, a “reactionary” element in Bangladesh. Such arguments make them so ridiculous that they even take Pakistan to be a good state when US drones bomb over it!

      The world is changing but Dr. Umar and the likes aren’t. Irony is that Karl Marx’ theory was underpinned by the concept of evolution!


      Badruddin Umar has a MA in Philosophy from Dhaka University and an Honors degree in PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) from Oxford University. He taught philosophy at Dhaka University, and political science at Rajshahi University where he was chairman of the Department of Political Science.

      The author became a full-time political activist and writer in 1969 and worked at the grassroots level. He was for many years President of the Bangladesh Lekhok Shibir (writer’s association). He has also lectured at the South Asian Studies Departments at Heidlberg University, Berlin University, and Cambridge University and has presented the prestigious Raja Ram Mohan Roy Memorial Lecture at Calcutta University.

    • Mahbubur Rahman

      Mr. Umar did his PPE from Oxford, a department which made top politicians and prime ministers! After he passed, Oxford authority sent a letter to DU, “please send student like BU”.

      You are here to teach him grammar!

  22. Rashed

    We should be careful from left fundamentalists, like Badruddin Umar. They blame everything contrary to their ‘socialist religion’. But there are many ways to do good for people.

  23. Golam Arshad

    Badruddin Bhai: You let yourself “Clean Bowled” by a yorker! You are being mired in an “Zooming World” too murky and extremely deceptive. A Doer is acclaimed ! Not there to be defamed! What do you say Professor?

  24. pratim

    You better do something for poor people than writing big words.

    • Johny

      I cannot agree more, I think Dr Umar has a personal grudge against Prof Yunus and consequently is criticising the activities of Grameen Bank. The allegations of the Bangladeshi government and the Norwegian company on Grameen Bank’s activities has been proved incorrect and has been given a green signal by both the parties. So,Mr Umar if you are so sure of irregularities in Grameen Bank why don’t you prove it? It is also such an irony that Mr Umar follows a FAILED economic system like Marxism.

  25. Zahid Nizam

    Mr Umar is a respectable man and so is Dr. Yunus. It is sad that Mr. Umar should fail to see what Dr Ynus was doing. He needed the money from the West to help the poor and the needy of this country. He could not afford to criticise them. He was being pragmatic. Please Mr. Umar, think again what you have said in the above article.

  26. Abu Ala

    Well, I think an unsuccessful Marxist could be reprimanded without glorifying an institutional usurer, a modern day Shylock. Despite his dogmatic language and style, the facts Mr. Umar described could not be dismissed right away. Grameen may be a very big and famous organisation, but it is nothing glorifying. If you have doubt please go to its ‘beneficiaries’, they will show you the reality.

    On the other hand, though we criticise, I think we should accept that Mr. Umar as intellectual offered us critical different views over decades and largely followed the principles he preached. I am not sure if the so-called ‘success’ makes everything palatable and everything is futile and vile if not ‘successful’.

    Perhaps, for that people like Falu, Shah Alam, SQC, even Menon are considered more admirable than unsuccessful Marxists. I have plethora of objections about Marxists but I think those should be discussed separately, otherwise we will diver from the current issue.

  27. mohsin rahul

    Umar is crystal clear in his analysis. This is the kind of confrontational paradigm, I think we need sometimes. It comes from a very primordial stage, beyond and before all so-called theories and analysis.

  28. Dayal

    Mr Umar, you are a man of words not a man of action. People know your character – to go against any big. Grameen Bank cannot alleviate poverty, they know it well because poverty relates not only with capacity (financial) but to rule of laws, social justice such as equality in income distribution. Grameen Bank can only reduce the degree or speed of severity of poverty and it DID it. Otherwise you could see more people in poverty than now.

    Instead of fixing the breakdown don’t fix the blame for breakdown because that will not bring any benefit to poor people as well as to the nation and economy.
    Don’t blame others (imperialists etc.) for non-achievement rather do something for the country and poor people.

  29. Humaira Chowdhury

    With due respect to Mr. Umar, his ideologies are just pep talks to our sentimental and dreamy folks. His kind of dogma is not only long gone and dead, his idols themselves, both former U.S.S.R and China, had changed course a few decades earlier. If you really want to follow China, watch and learn how they have used their vast land, ginormous population and ability to adapt in their nation’s socio-economic need. Even Russia has some of the wealthiest people in the world proudly boasting their luxurious lives around the world.

    It is time that our youth learnt to believe in themselves, and started being entrepreneurs. The same people you argue against writing in sheets after sheets, have changed millions of peoples’ lives for good. People like Fazle Hasan Abed, or Dr. Mohammad Yunus, the architect who operates Sidhulai School on Boat, the farmers in the coastal areas who know how to yield crops amidst saline water, etc. are there for your inspiration. Even university students have created Jaago Foundation, Volunteer Bangladesh, 1 Degree Initiative and numerous other volunteer non-profit organisations that are gaining ground and creating momentum for the future ahead. You can also be a part of this society-changing movement!

    So, let’s not dwell onto the petty sayings of the Communists. Look what they are doing in India, in Nepal — if you want to look beyond border. Let’s do something POSITIVE and worthwhile when we have a full democratic atmosphere prevailing. Let’s not lose our precious time and creativity like our forefathers did in the early 70’s in the name of ‘Communism/ Socialism’. While the idea sounds Utopian, the results were disastrous – thousands had to die, go underground or had to flee from Bangladesh for years. Let’s not make the same self-destructive mistake.

    The followers of Mr. Umar and other leftists, please take note. You guys could never come in power because people never trusted in your abilities, visions and goals. It’s time you folks looked deep into your psyche, and found heroes within. Time has changed, and so should you. We all should work towards a better Bangladesh, so let’s be on the ground and be a ‘change maker’ any which way we can.

    Thank you!

  30. Badrud Doza

    His writing indicates that he is a man of paranoid personality,a psychiatric condition in which a person has a long-term distrust and suspicion of others but does not have a full-blown psychotic disorder.
    He is full of foul words but no good deeds.

  31. Roney

    Some pro-poor economists and critics who go like a bomb in criticising fight shy of putting money where their mouth is. So why accuse only a Nobel laureate professor and why are we sparing others? We know many professors at both public and private universities go to coaching centre to take IELTS classes, they do profiteering at private universities, they work as NGO consultants, and they are sharp in attending those part-time or moonlight jobs. But it will be a bit shocking to see their record of punctuality at their own institution. At least professor Yunus took those poor people into account and thought about their well-being.

    Should we think that the poor are not at all responsible for their grinding poverty? The Poor are sometimes tough customers. It is true, hardly does that small quality of money work for the better. But still, in the ossified social system of ours, the poor are reluctant, and scarcely change their outlook, simple yet not honest, deprived and exploited yet lacking sincerity , commitment, and conviction. Any intervention to take the mantle of changing their life in such environment will not produce expected result. For example how many hours of time public health workers need to promote a single healthy habit in them such as washing hand before eating? In elections, how many honest candidates will be voted by those people?

    The have-nots are systematically exploited by the haves in all strata of society. The bloody leeches of villages still laugh all the way to the bank, who lends money at 120 per cent interest rate. Micro credit has no magic wand that poverty can only be seen in museum. This is where the respectable professor walked on the air to take glory in his success. Never do we subscribe to the views of him.

    In ‘A Passage to India’ by E M Foster on one occasion, English Sahib was very content and didn’t even want to condescend to a group of native visitors because they could not speak in English. On another occasion, when some Indians started speaking in English and their diction was correct, a pang of jealousy came over him as if the sudden blow cut ground under his feet he was lost for words thinking up to what standard he was now when they applied the same standard to him.

    Why those critics don’t work out even more effective tool and apply same standard to methodologically outsmart professor Yunus? Only vitriolic comments and anger directed at the professor will not make all those holding important positions free of responsibilities. In cut-throat world of politics there are always shrewd plots to knock famous persons off pedestal to benefit others. Still, there is no allegation of corruption and misappropriation of money against him, whereas millions and millions of dollars of foreign aid being donated since independence reportedly siphoned off. Who stand accused of behind the bar? From time to time, it occurs to me why do we expect something all-perfect in the world which is seen in chronological study not perfect at all for its characteristic and rational behaviours from man when most of the people do not care a bit of the rationality?


  32. afsan chowdhury

    This is more a piece of archaeology than political commentary. Mr.Umar’s world is dead and gone and the only thing left for him is to write pieces on those more successful than him using a language and terms that are examples of the rigor mortis of ideology. He sounds exactly like Amini would had he been a Marxist.

    Marxists who are thankfully almost all gone from Bangladesh and none were ever very effective should reflect on the fact that Grameen mobilised and organised millions in their cause while the Communists in their entire sum total of history here never managed to get any people to follow them.

    Marxists appear first as a farce, then as a tragedy and finally emerge as clowns to be hooted out of the stage.

    • sajjad

      Right. Only some marxists of our student-days have become MPs and Ministers, and made money too. Looks like these few cannot be hooted out of stage yet. Like chamelons, they have changed color.

    • imon

      I fully endorse Mr Chowdhury’s comments. Both communists and fundamentalist are anti-development forces.

      • Isa Khan

        ‘Development’ here as defined by whom? The World Bank? Or Swedish NGOs? Or by the post-Gang of Four Chinese Communists?

      • afsan

        The Gang of Four was described as “dogs running with tails between their legs.”

        I suppose if you can’t eat them, you should shoo them away.

    • faruk wasif

      Just to show how ‘Man first sees and recognises himself in other man.’

      ”This is merely a sigh of a literary ghost than intellectual negation.’’ Mr. Afsan’s wisdom is dead and gone and the only thing left for him is to write pieces on those more successful than him (like Yunus-Abed) using a language and terms that are examples of the rigor mortis of neo-liberal ideology. He sounds exactly like Hasina would have, had she been a petty-intellectual without any ideological anchor.

      Intellectual elite who are thankfully almost all migrated from Bangladesh and none were ever very effective should reflect on the fact that Marxists inspired and led thousands (from Tevaga to Fulbari through 1969) in their cause while the comprador bourgeoisie and their Khoyer-kha(n) cohorts in their entire sum total of history here never managed to get any people to follow them. (Thus, Ahmad Sofa summarises: This nation would’ve not been independent, if they follow intellectuals of their time)

      Afsan Choudhury appears first as a prodigy, then as a tragedy and finally emerge as farce to be hooted out of the stage (Bangladesh).

    • Omar Tarek Chowdhury

      Mr. Afsan Chowdhury, is there anything wrong in writing or saying about anybody “more successful”? Like a worst kind of fascist, are you suggesting that people should not talk about or criticise Henry Kissinger, a famous NPL, or Mr. Barack Obama, or Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and so on, because they are “more successful”!

      From your highly illogical reaction we have to consider Mr. Badruddin Umar as a world class fortune-teller who had foreseen Dr. Muhammad Yunus’ becoming a NPL back in early 1990s. As a practicing “historian” and journalist where is your memory, Mr. Chowdhury? Don’t you recall that Badruddin Umar started his pioneering critique of Grameen Bank-Muhammad Yunus more than a decade ago Mr. Yunus became THE Nobel Peace Laureate? Do you think your reaction here reflects any fairness or integrity at all?

      By saying all these a-historical rubbish about Badruddin Umar and Marxists you have only lowered yourself and really sided with Amini. You have achieved nothing for yourself or even for Dr. Yunus by saying all these nonsense. However, many of us are delighted to see your reaction which tells lot about you — very loudly. Keep it up, Afsan Chowdhury!

    • Omar Tarek Chowdhury

      So, back in early 1990s, Badruddin Umar realised that in 2006 Dr. Muhammad Yunus would be “more successful than him”. Badruddin Umar — a great fortuneteller indeed! Thanks, Afsan Chowdhury, for this great discovery and psychoanalysis!

  33. Dr.Kishaloy Sur

    I am in complete agreement of with Mr. Badruddin Umar. The recent activity of ‘Super-powers’ support his notion that Nobel was given to serve interest of the imperialist powers, not the poor. People are also ignorant of credible evidences of what he did with the ‘bank of poor’!

    Lies, deception, greed and serving the superpower that’s all. The story ends there.

    Before arguing in favor of him please read the related evidences. The answer is clear. In the guise of alleviating poverty, the ‘bank of the poor’ is rather turning the poor, poorer. 45 percent of Bangladeshi peoples are below the poverty line. Can anyone give me any statistical evidence of what percentage of peoples got out of poverty since establishment of the ‘bank of poor’? None can provide any data.

    Overall, the ‘bank of the poor’ serves its own interest, not the interest of the poor people. I am sorry for those who are still defending him without going through evidence.

  34. Rahman Noble

    Thanks to Mr. Badruddin Umar for a real-time approach on Dr. Yunus issue! By and large, Yunus is a clever old man and manipulated Grameen Bank in so many ways.

    I accept the idea that Dr. Yunus miserably failed to understand that poverty is not a thing, it is not an archaeological artefact, but the result of relations which exist between people in the course of production and other social affairs.

  35. G.K GHOSH

    It is a shocking news for me since I had high opinion of Dr. Yunus who started his activities in the name of helping the poor. The article I cannot discard too being written by one of the respected intellectuals. All I can say is truth must rule.

  36. Engr. Sk. Din Mohammad

    Dear Sir, Marxism is no more relevant to us.

  37. Mozammel Haque

    Dear Mr. Omar, I read many of your stories. You are good in writing stories. I have no comments whatever you said about Dr. Yunus. But I would request you to refrain from writing bad stories on success. Dr. Yunus is a success story of Bangladesh, especially to the world. He is a man who has been able to develop 30 companies where thousands of families can earn their daily bread. He is the man who has been able to send thousands for higher education.

    Nobody so far could prove that he is corrupt. You mentioned about Nobel Prize in 2006 and military takeover in 2007 are somewhat connected. Nobody can forget the bloodbath instigated by the politicians and how the military saved the country. When the whole govt system is corrupt, leaders are elected to do business, you talk about a person who should follow rule of law in the strictest term possible!

    Instead, I would request you to think about how you can help someone around you, earn his bread and butter.

  38. sajjad

    Dear Badruddin, Thanks for a nice essay on Yunus and his character. We used to write such essays on characters of Mughal emperors in history exam to pass matriculation. Actually no one can make poor people rich, but God. Also no one can bestow Nobel Prize and such honours on any man but God. The debate is endless, therefore.

    Next, please write an essay on the characters of people who waged war on Yunus and his Prize! Analyse how Shantu Larma & the PM deserved a prize as well.

    Thank you.

  39. Golam Arshad

    Badruddin Bhai: Wonderful demonstration of logical points tageed against Professor Muhammad Yunus. You being the son of a distinguished politician of Bengal late Abul Hashim who championed the cause of partition for a separate homeland for the Muslims of the sub-continent. You have marked yourself as a Leftist thinker, nothched in integrity. But my question is: why now failing so high in score on the dignity of difference. You are highly educated, with a golden cradle of a brilliant political background. Missing the mark of showing respect to the ideals of decency and decorum. I hope to see you in tunic note of clarity and magnanimity in future discourse. May Almighty Allah bless your dad in Zannat. Honour begets Honour!

  40. kazi

    What a stupid opinion! Instead of lecturing others, why don’t do you something constructive and then come and argue your case. We need action / work for our country not lecturers or backbiter like the writer.

    • Ashiq

      Mr Kazi, do you have any idea who the writer is? He is one of the most active politicians in the field and equally active in his writing. Please do some research on the political history and movements of Bangladesh and then talk like that. At least, he is not a person who is eradicating poverty with the money of those who needs to be helped to move out of poverty and sitting in A/C office and lecturing “We will move poverty to museum”. Please read the book named “The confession of an economic hit-man”. Thank you.

  41. Kayes Ahmed

    Well, what have you done for the poor of Bangladesh other than write weighty pieces full of lies and half-truths? I used to be a dupe in my younger days and followed your political affliction, fortunately I am cured of such malaise! Yunus has done things, built a huge franchise and given a lot of people hope and means to turn the hope into reality. What have you done other than cast aspersions on other people and their accomplishments. Should you not be ashamed of yourself?

    • Ashiq

      Please I really want to know what was the extend of your reach to this political ideology?

  42. Mohammad Zaman

    “The government of Bangladesh did not snatch away Nobel Peace Prize from Dr. Muhammad Yunus which was bestowed on him by the imperialist powers, and in any case they have no power to do so.”

    This opening salvo my Mr. Umar tells of his biased inflection.

  43. Raaef Khan

    “Society does not consist of individuals, but expresses the sum of interrelations, the relations within which these individuals stand.”
    — Karl Marx, Grundrisse, 1858

    You hate that fact that individuals are becoming bigger then leaders using materialistic ideas. Don’t you?

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