February 12, 2007

On Dr.Yunus entering politics

I have nothing against Dr.Yunus joining politics per se. I believe in the aftermath of the current ‘cleansing’ operation that is being carried out back home, there will be a place for smart, qualified individuals to take the places vacated by possibly the worst generation of politicians witnessed by any country in any period in history. Dr.Yunus is certainly a very capable man. He is one of Bangladesh’s most accomplished sons, much loved and respected both home and abroad. Naturally, we would always want our leaders to be drawn from that pool. But Dr.Yunus is not the only one in that pool, and it isn’t a must that everyone from that pool should be in politics.

Every nation’s success necessarily depends on a wide variety of forces coming together from different fields to form a coherent whole. This includes not just political parties, but also civil society, NGOs, businesses, educational institutions, media organizations, etc. Each has its own role to fulfill and it is a precondition of any successfully operating democracy that each does fulfill its role to its full capacity, or nearly enough as possible.

Dr.Yunus' merits as a politician is ofcourse an unknown quantity. What we do know is that he has played a role in reducing poverty from the fabric of civil society, not as part of the government at any stage. NGOs have played a very, very important role in the development of our rural areas, and Grameen is of-course at the very forefront of that. We must be aware of the potential consequences of Dr.Yunus entering the field of politics on the work of Grameen. The man himself has said that entering politics equates to becoming controversial. His becoming controversial will also mean his brainchild turning controversial. As it is, there are criticisms starting to surface about the Grameen Bank model. The intense trauma faced by members of groups who cannot repay their debt(and hence let down others in their group) has resulted in even suicide, and the loans-scheme is said to perpetuate the debt-trap for already poor communities. And it is true that the Grameen model is not perfect, that it can be improved. But I fear a Dr. Yunus in the realm of politics will not be able to lead the improvement process as only he can.

I firmly believe Dr.Yunus has an important role to play in Bangladesh society. But it is not in politics. His role is best fulfilled as part of the civil society, to strengthen it in lieu with politics which has to be strengthened by politicians, not civilians merely because they might be bigger achievers. No country is led simply by its most prolific achiever. We dont have to be too. And no country's problems can be solved by one man's initiative, or even two or three. It is the institutions that have to be cleansed. If that is done, as the current CG is taking steps toward(for example the seperation of the executive from the judiciary), there will be no need for Dr.Yunus to leave Grameen for Parliament. And that is what we must aspire to. Not to be dependant on any person(as some of the general public’s crying out for Dr.Yunus to enter politics would suggest), but to be dependant on our system.


amitaf said...

Are you insinuating that politics should be left to the politicians and that those in other professions (teachers, doctors, professors, economists) need not apply? I'm not a Dr Younus supporter, but I'm not sure I find your logic terribly convincing on why he shouldn't get into politics. You're absolutely right that the way forward is with government, NGOs, educational institutes, business (even dare I say it multinationals) all working together for progress. However, where are the bright lights in the bengali government moving things forward? We absolutely need change - who's to say it can't be brought with Dr Younous's party or more importantly his acting like a catalyst and perhaps the real change is what's still to come brought on by others? Where are the others in the talent pool you speak of stepping forward and taking the initiative? Is it because they don't have the recognition and mobility that Younous brings? Do you wish to see a parallel with Einstein who remained political without entering public office?

amitaf said...

sorry you speak of change coming by the system, but that change comes from people working from within (hence the leap from NGO to government seems logical enough). As an aside, many of Canada's bright young progressive talent would previously only think of careers in NGOs, however have now realized that NGOs can't affect change the way official policy development in governmental organizations can. The Canadian government has been pushing to get that cream of the crop to join the public sector to get that innovation and enthusiasm. How does the status quo change without a catalyst of some sort? What's motivating the systems to change at the pace that the people want and demand? It's definitely not something that one or two people do, but rather the ideologies they represent that creates a momentum in those around them that ultimate creates the power to affect change.

Shye said...

No, I am not insinuating that at all. Naturally, people have to enter politics to become politicians. Right now, there is nobody in the government(CG) that you would call a 'politician'. However, they are doing a good job. Once they have done their job, I would be pleased to see some of these people continue in government, but not Dr.Yunus, because he is a very high profile figure (unlike the current members of the CG, who inspite of their competence, are not as high profile as him)and losing him to politics would be a big blow to civil society, because he I believe is the ideal man to lead civil society. As I mentioned, he himself has admitted he will become controversial, whereas due to the lower profile of the current advisers, they run a lower chance of becoming controversial. Policy change in government organizations can surely contribute more towards carrying a country forward, but here again, I believe there are people like Fakhruddin Ahmed, Iftekhar Ahmed Chaudhury and others who can implement the same changes that Yunus would as part of the government. However, there are not as many people who can take Yunus' place in civil society. The gist of my argument I suppose would be that there are others who can do the job we would expect from Yunus in government, but I do not really see anybody who can do the job Yunus can from outside government.

faisal said...

Do you know the real reason 'why awami league wanted khaleda zia to join the poverty eradication conference'?

know the real reason here http://bnpbangladesh.blogspot.com/2009/10/bal-intriguing-plot-in-name-of.html