Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Tyrant and the Mountebank

Between a tyrant and a mountebank, Bangladesh has displayed quite a spectacle. By the former I refer to the prime minister, and by the latter, Mohammed Yunus, formerly of Grameen Bank.

We know that the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded purely on political - and politicised - considerations. Yunus had lobbied hard to get the Prize. And the west wanted to blinker the world to the fact that they were not going to do anything for the truly poor of the world - there would be no more export-led growth, as in East Asia. So some kind of opium was necessary, and microcredit came along. We also know it doesn't work. Indeed, microfinance has been known to kill the poor. The model is not only useless, but dangerous. In fact, gouging the poor has not been a recent story. And, as the Norwegian documentary has shown, the original borrower died in poverty and her children are beggars.

But that's not surprising: even Elie Wiesel won the Peace Prize. As did Barack Obama (we'll never figure that one out).

What is shocking, then, is not Yunus getting the Prize, but Bangladeshis feeling that he's done them proud. We claim that he brought us dignity and prestige. Can a bauble really do that?

Dignity and prestige comes from honesty, fair dealing, uprightness, equity, compassion...not from foreigners and their tinsel.

Al-Ghazali said that any work undertaken with equity and compassion is ibadat. Where are equity and compassion in Bangladesh?

Our intellectuals are hired liars, as has been obvious from the exhibition on both sides of the farce. Self-respect comes from the self, not from others.

One has but to consider one of Yunus's closest drinking buddies, a rogue known as Bill Clinton. This unconscionable man coldbloodedly murdered 1.7 million children in Iraq through sanctions; and his lackey, the secretary of state, went on prime-time TV equally coldbloodedly to defend the indefensible.

A man is judged by the company he keeps, or should be: and this is the kind of man we consider a hero in Bangladesh. That says a lot about Bangladesh.

This whole circus has revealed nothing but our moral bankruptcy.

No comments: