November 2006

Nobel Peace Prize, 2006

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The Nobel citation reads: ‘lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways to break out of poverty. Micro credit is one such means’. Indeed the Grameen Bank, has made the concept translate literally and figuratively among the masses. The beneficiaries and citizens of Bangladesh stand witness to this. Today world is giving standing ovation to its mastermind, a vision that evolved three decades back. Inceptor of microcredit and founder of Grameen Bank Professor Muhammad Yunus and along with the organisation have won Nobel Peace Prize 2006 for his contribution in poverty alleviation.

After successful implementation of microcredit programme at home, Grameen Bank model is now being followed by different countries across the world including some of the developed nations. Prof. Yunus is the first Bangladeshi who has won this prestigious award. His contribution in promoting Information and Communication Technologies in building an informed and empowered society is also applauded globally.

Background
Born to Mr.Hazi Dula Mia Shoudagar and Mrs. Sufia Khatun in 1940, Yunus spent considerable part of his life in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Besides excelling in academic pursuits and voluantary services, Yunus was active in extracurriculars during his boyhood days.  Married to Afroji Yunus, a Professor of Physics at Jahangirnagar University, Yunus is a proud father of two daughters: Dina Yunus and Monica Yunus.

It was in in 1974 literally Yunus got involved in fighting poverty for the first time in Bangladesh, especially during the famine period. He understood that a considerate lending hand would suffice enough to bring unbelievable difference to a poor man’s life. His first loan consisted of US$27 from his own pocket, which he lent to women in the village of Jobra  in Chittagong  who were in the business of making bamboo furniture.

The origin of Grameen Bank can be traced back to 1976 when Professor Yunus, the-then head of the Rural Economics Programme at the University of Chittagong, launched an action research project to examine the possibility of designing a credit delivery system to provide banking services targeted at the rural poor. The Grameen Bank Project (Grameen means ‘rural’ or ‘village’ in Bangla language) came into operation with the core objectives – to eliminate poverty and create opportunities for poor and disadvantaged groups especially the women from poor households.

Micro-credit is one such means where development from bottom-to-top approach serves to advance democracy and human rights

Microcredit has proved to be a powerful tool for emancipation of societies and communities where women in particular have to put great efforts to overcome the  suppressive barriers of socio-economic conditions. Without making them an earning member, empowering them with certain monetary means, no decisive capacity, economic growth or participative lead would emerge in the society.

Grameen bank’s relentless work carried in this direction in creating opportunities for large numbers of people to get out of vicious circle of poverty created the conditions for sustainable peace; indeed a milestone in recogonising human values, rights and democracy. Grameen Bank’s success can thus be evaluated in its business model coupled with social responsibility and its viability among the womenfolk.

Nobel recognition
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006, divided into two equal parts, to ‘Muhammad Yunus’ and ‘Grameen Bank’ for their efforts to create economic and social development from below. Micro-credit is one such means. Development from bottom-to-top approach also serves to advance democracy and human rights.

Grameen Bank  has reversed conventional banking practice by removing the need for collateral and created a banking system based on mutual trust, accountability, participation and creativity. Loans to poor people without any financial security had appeared to be an impossible idea. From modest beginnings, Yunus had developed microcredit into an ever more important instrument in the struggle against poverty. Eventually, the bank and its concept have emerged into a discipline and a perennial source of ideas and model for the many institutions working in the field of betterment of livelihood patterns around the world.

i4d Magazine and CSDMS takes privilege to join with the cheering masses, to give a note of congratulations to Prof. Muhammad Yunus  and expresses its pride to have him among the esteemed group of Members of the Advisory Board. May his vision and passion for common people be the motivating spirit to work hard to bring about visible changes to life around us.

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