Foreign Policy Blogs

Grameen Bank Founder Receives Support From Hillary Clinton

Over a phone call, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered her support to Grameen Bank founder Dr. Md. Yunus.  State Department spokesperson Phillip J. Crowley said that “Secretary Clinton spoke yesterday with Dr Muhammad Yunus and expressed support for the independence of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.”

It’s not just that Mrs. Clinton offered her support as a friend; rather through official channels, she spoke for the independence of Grameen Bank, independent from the machinations of the Awami League government.

Indeed to a question regarding why the Secretary of State placed such a call, Mr. Crowley answered:

“I mean he’s a Nobel Prize winner, Medal of Freedom winner, Congressional Gold Medal winner. His public service is widely recognised and respected, and civil society organisations such as the bank play an important role in Bangladesh’s development and democracy. So it is both to show support for his ongoing efforts and the efforts of the Grameen Bank and also to express our concern about developments in Bangladesh.”

This is the strongest endorsement yet for Dr. Yunus, the strongest diplomatic indictment for the AL government’s moves against him. Now, this news couldn’t have come at a better moment.  The High Court of Bangladesh upheld Bangladesh’s Bank decision to remove him from his role of managing director of Grameen. According to the rules set by Bangladesh Bank, in its role as overseer, no one above 60 years of age can lead Grameen. That rule was only brought to bear against him in 1999, and was then seemingly dropped.

Now after a hullaballoo that sprang from a Norwegian documentary, the AL government has made strong moves to remove him from the public’s gaze–a public, women, most of whom are fair customers of the bank he has led for some thirty-odd years. After Bangladesh Banks move to retire Dr. Yunus, he appealed the decision. The decision was then upheld by the High Court.

Hillary Clinton’s endorsement now puts pressure on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to back off, to let Grameen Bank exist outside of her dominating glare.  After all the bank is principally owned by its poor borrowers.  She wouldn’t want to upset in one swift decision those millions of angry women, while irritating in that same moment, the U.S. Secretary of State and former U.S. presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.

 

Author

Faheem Haider
Faheem Haider

Faheem Haider is a political analyst, writer and artist. He holds advanced research degrees in political economy, political theory and the political economy of development from the London School of Economics and Political Science and New York University. He also studied political psychology at Columbia University. During long stints away from his beloved Washington Square Park, he studied peace and conflict resolution and French history and European politics at the American University in Washington DC and the University of Paris, respectively.

Faheem has research expertise in democratic theory and the political economy of democracy in South Asia. In whatever time he has to spare, Faheem paints, writes, and edits his own blog on the photographic image and its relationship to the political narrative of fascist, liberal and progressivist art.

That work and associated writing can be found at the following link: http://blackandwhiteandthings.wordpress.com

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