Nobel laureate Md Yunus proposes South Asian unity on EU pattern - India - The Times of India
Cautioning that the future would be shaped and predicted by those with a vision, Nobel Peace Prize winner Md Yunus of Bangladesh on Wednesday unfurled a unique proposal for closer integration of South Asia on the patterns of European Union.
"It is time to take charge of our future, it's time to decide what we want South Asia to be in the year 2030," Yunus said delivering the second Hiren Mukherjee memorial lecture in the Central Hall of Parliament.
Cautioning that the future would belong to the `dreamers' and not to experts working with data, he said the region could become another entity like European Union with a single currency, free movement and a great deal of foreign policy commonality.
Claiming this idea as the `wishlist' for the next two decades, he talked of setting targets like making South Asia a poverty-free region with no unemployment.
"The first career choice of a child growing up in South Asia should not be working for a company but to launch his own company; let us believe in these dreams," he said evoking applause from a distinguished audience of parliamentarians, ministers, governors and academics.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Yunus's Grameen Bank experiment marked a paradigm shift in the life of the dispossessed. Vice-President Hamid Ansari described the micro-credit concept as a successful model of development from below. Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said Yunus's idea of social business could provide a framework for addressing social and environmental issues.
Recounting his experience as Grameen Bank founder and the micro-finance route, Yunus said social business had the capacity to use technology and market forces to the advantage of the masses.
While the big banks collapsed, Grameen boasted of a total capital of half a billion dollars, he said pointing out that big brands from Europe were producing a whole range of products -- from yogurt, mosquito-nets to cheap shoes -- in collaboration with his bank. "While the other banks crumbled, micro-finance is flourishing," he said.
He termed poverty as an artificial and external condition which could be removed from human society with some initiative. "People are not born to suffer -- only place for poverty is the museum," he said.
Tracing his micro-finance initiative to the devastating famine in Bangladesh
in 1974, Yunus said that within a generation, the little money lent mostly to women changed the way people lived.
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The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Nation | Take banks to poor: Yunus
New Delhi, Dec. 9: India’s financial and banking architecture is out of tune with the needs of some of its poorest citizens and needs “bold” reforms for the country’s microcredit movement to succeed, Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus has said.
Yunus, who became the first Bangladeshi to win the Nobel Prize — for peace — in 2006, blamed the absence of political initiative in pushing reforms he said Indian leaders recognised as necessary.
“India’s present banking laws have an architecture suited to a big cargo ship. Microcredit is like a dinghy boat. You can’t build a dingy boat using the architecture of a cargo ship,” Yunus said in an interview to The Telegraph today.
Yunus, the founder and managing director of the Grameen Bank that provides microfinance to over eight million Bangladeshis, was here to deliver the second Hiren Mukherjee lecture in Parliament today.
Citing Bangladesh’s example, the economist argued that India needed microcredit — small loans to the poor without any collateral — to be driven purely by social motives.
An independent legislation through which the Grameen Bank was created made possible a parallel banking structure specifically tasked to create access to loans for every poor Bangladeshi.
The Grameen Bank loans money to small groups of poor citizens, including beggars, to help them gain livelihood. They invariably repay the loan, Yunus said.
In India, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) — at the apex of microfinance — only disburses loans through commercial banks, which are reluctant to assist the poor, Yunus said.
“This is the first flaw. Commercial banks are not created to provide loans to the poor. Their job, by definition, is to offer loans to those who are traditionally loan-worthy. But microfinance should be a no-loss, no-dividend social business,” Yunus said.
Some NGOs and groups in microfinance are trying to earn profits which, Yunus argued, is the second flaw. “We are not here to make money,” he said, citing the example of Grameen Bank which is “owned” by the borrowers.
Asked whether he had raised these concerns with senior Indian leaders, Yunus said: “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is convinced (of my arguments). I know. But he is not being able to push through necessary reforms.”
Singh had indicated his conviction to Yunus both when he visited Bangladesh as finance minister in the Narasimha Rao government and now as Prime Minister, the Nobel laureate said.
As in Bangladesh, a separate law is needed to create microfinance institutions in India, Yunus said, adding the proposed microfinance bill is a “good” move but needs to be pushed though.
Asked why he thought India was not able to push through reforms despite the Prime Minister’s conviction, Yunus said “India’s politicians” had allowed traditional economists and banks like the central bank to determine its strategy.
Yunus repeated his earlier criticism of the loan waivers offered by the Indian government to debt-ridden farmers. “I am against waivers. They make people dependent and provide an incentive to take on more loans that you cannot yourself repay, instead of becoming self-reliant.”