Sunday, December 17, 2006

Profiles of martyred intellectuals


Profiles of martyred intellectuals

Zahir Raihan
Famous filmmaker and writer, born on 19 August 1935 in a village in Feni district. Zahir Raihan passed his Matriculation in 1950 from Amirabad High School and was the admitted to Dhaka College, from where he passed ISc examination. He obtained BA (Hons) in Bangla from the University of Dhaka.

In his early years, he was attracted by the communist movement. When the Communist Party was banned and the leaders of the party went underground, he worked as a messenger to carry letters and messages. He got the name Raihan from underground leaders and thus his original name Zahirullah was changed to Zahir Raihan.

In his student life, Zahir devoted himself to literature. His first book Surya Grahan, a collection of stories, was published in 1362 BS 1995. Other books written by him are Shesh Bikeler Meye, Hajar Bachhar Dhare, Arek Falgun, Baraf Gala Nadi and Ar Kata Din. He was one of the initiators in publishing the English weekly Express in 1970.

In 1952, Zahir went to Calcutta to learn photography and was admitted to Pramatesh Burua Memorial Photography School. He entered the film world in 1956. Kakhono Asheni, the first film directed by him, was released in 1961. Then came, one after another, Kajal, Kancher Deyal, Behula, Jiban Theke Neya, Anwara, Sangam and Bahana. Jiban Theke Neya depicted the autocratic rule of Pakistan and inspired the people to protest against the Pakistani rulers. He started making an English film Let There Be Light, which he could not finish. After 25 March 1971, he went to Calcutta and produced a documentary film Stop Genocide highlighting the massacre done by the Pakistani Army.

In December 1971, some members of the notorious Al-Badr took away Zahir's elder brother Shahidullah Kaiser, an eminent writer, from his residence at the University of Dhaka. Within days, on 30 December 1971, someone informed Zahir about an address, somewhere at Mirpur, where he might find his brother. Accordingly, Zahir left home to get his brother back. Alas, he never returned.

Shahidullah Kaiser
Journalist and novelist, born on 16 February 1927 in Mazupur village of Feni. His original name was Abu Nayeem Mohammad Shahidullah.

After completing Honours in economics from Presidency College in 1946, Shahidullah Kaiser enrolled for the Master of Arts in economics at Calcutta University, but could not sit for the final examination. As a student, he participated in various social, cultural and political movements. He was a member of the provincial Communist Party of East Pakistan and also played an important role in the Language Movement in 1952. As a consequence, he suffered imprisonment several times.

Shahidullah Kaiser started his career in journalism in 1949 with the weekly Ittefaq in Dhaka. In 1958, he was appointed associate editor of the Sangbad, and continued to work there until his death.

Shahidullah Kaiser was also a novelist of note. He came into the limelight with Sareng Bau (The Captain's Wife, 1962). Later, a film was made based on this book. His other novels include Sangshaptak (The Indomitable Soldiers, 1965), which was later made into a highly acclaimed television serial, Krishnachura Megh (Krishnachura Clouds), Timir Balay (The Circle of Darkness), Digante Phuler Agun (The Flaming Horizon), Samudra O Trisna (Sea and Thirst), Chandrabhaner Kanya (Chandrabhan's Daughter), Sangsaptak and the unfinished novel, Kabe Pohabe Bibhabari (When Will It Dawn). Shahidullah was the recipient of the Adamjee Literary Award (1962) and the Bangla Academy Award (1962). He was picked up by the Al-Badr on 14 December 1971 and never returned.

Santosh Chandra Bhattacharyya
A teacher and a scholar. Born on 30 August, 1915 in Nawabganj upazila of Dhaka district, Santosh Chandra Bhattacharyya graduated from Dhaka University in 1937 with Honours in History and obtained MA degree in 1938 from the same institution occupying first position in the first class in both the examinations.

He started his academic career as a lecturer in Jagannath College in 1939 and worked there until 1949, when he joined the History Department of Dhaka University as a Senior Lecturer. A scholar in Sanskrit literature and ancient history of Bengal and India, Bhattacharyya served Dhaka University as a devoted teacher and a scholar until his tragic death (14 December, 1971) in the hands of the cohorts of the Pakistan army.

Prof. Munier Choudhury
Born in 1925 at Manikganj, Dhaka. Hailed from Noakhali. Joined the department of Bangla as a lecturer in 1955, before that he was a part time teacher in the English department. He was an M.A. in English, but while he was interned at Dhaka Central Jail (1953-54) during the Language Movement he did his M. A. (first in first class) in Bangla.

He became Reader in 1962 and Professor in 1970 and the Dean of the faculty of arts in 1971.

After the army crackdown in the university area from which he luckily escaped like many, he moved to his parents' house, near Hatirpool. He became a totally dejected and broken man. Many of his student-like well-wishers requested him to come to the liberated areas. But unfortunately Munier Choudhury couldn't mentally adjust to the idea of fleeing from his beloved motherland. He preferred to stay back and surrendered to his 'fate'.

His notable literary works include Raktakta Prantar, Kabar, Dandakaranya, Mir Manash, Palashi Barrack o Annanya, Bangla Gadyariti.

He denounced the title 'Sitar- I- Imtiaz' awarded to him by the Pakistan government (1966) during the non-cooperation movement (1971).

The members of the Al-Badr picked him from his residence at Hatirpul and subsequently killed him at the dawn of our liberation. His dead body could not be identified.

Mofazzal Haidar Chaudhury
Mofazzal Haidar Chaudhury, born in Noakhali in 1926, joined the department of Bangla of Dhaka University in 1955. He studied at London University for a couple of years in linguistics. He was awarded 'Sahitya Bharati' by the Viswa Bharati University, Santiniketan. He became Reader in Bengali in 1970. His famous writings include Bangla Banan o Lipi Sanskar, Rabi Parikrama, Colloquial Bengali, Bhasa o Sanskriti, Sahityer Nava Rupayan etc.

He was picked up and killed by the Al-Badr on December 14, 1971.

Rashidul Hasan
Rashidul Hasan, born in 1932 in Bhirbhum district of West Bengal, migrated to this part of the subcontinent then under Pakistani rule in 1949. He obtained BA(Hons.) and MA in English from DU in 1957 and 1958 respectively. He taught at various colleges including Narsingdi, Pabna Edward College and Krishna Chandra College of Bhirbhum in West Bengal. Finally, he joined the English Department, DU, as a lecturer in 1967.

He was a liberal democrat and a life long fighter against fundamentalism and communalism.

A close friend of Anwar Pasha, Rashidul Hasan was picked up together with his friend Anwar from the same flat within the DU campus. The two families were then living together in a flat in Isa Khan Road area.

Anwar Pasha
Born on 15 April 1928 at Dabkai village in Murshidabad, India. After passing the High Madrassah examination in 1946, Anwar Pasha went on to do his BA and then his MA in Bangla from Calcutta University in 1953. He started his teaching career as superintendent of Manikchak High Madrasah and later on taught at Bhabta Azizia High Madrasah (1954) and Sadikhan Diar Bohumukhi Higher Secondary School (1957). In 1958 he joined Pabna Edward College and then, in 1966, the Department of Bangla, Dhaka University.

Anwar Pasha made his debut as a writer with Hasnahena, a collection of literary essays. During the next two decades, he published novels, essays, poems, and short stories. He also edited four ancient and medieval Bangla poems. His writings were published in many journals, including the quarterly Kabita, published from Kolkata and edited by Buddhadev Bose. His notable writings include Nadi Nihshesita Hale (1963), Nid Sandhani (1968), Nishuti Rater Gatha (1968), Nirupay Harini (1970), Rabindra Chhotagalpa Samiksa (Vol. I 1963, Vol. II 1973), Sahityashilpi Abul Fazal (1968).

Anwar Pasha was picked up from his university flat and brutally killed with other intellectuals. He was posthumously honoured with the Bangla Academy Award for his literary achievements.

Jyotirmoy Guhathakurta
DU teacher, killed by the Pakistani Army on the night of 25 March 1971. He was born in Mymensingh town on 10 July 1920. His father, Kumudchandra Guhathakurta, of Banaripara, Barisal, and his mother, Srimati Sumati, were school teachers. Guhathakurta matriculated from Mymensingh Zila School In 1936. He then studied at Presidency College in Kolkata for a year, but an attack of typhoid prevented him from taking the final examination. Later he took admission in Ananda Mohan College Mymensingh, and in 1939 passed IA. He took admission in Dhaka University and graduated with honours in English in 1942, standing first in the first class. His academic success earned him the Pope Memorial Gold Medal. The following year he completed his MA.

Guhathakurta taught in a number of colleges from 1944 to 1949, such as, AM College, Mymensingh, Gurudayal College, Kishoreganj, and Jagannath College, Dhaka. In 1949 he joined Dhaka University as lecturer in English. In 1963 he went to King's College, London University, on a British Council scholarship to do doctoral work on 'Classical Myths in the Plays of Swinburne, Bridges, Sturges, Moore and Eliot'. In 1967, Guhathakurta returned to Dhaka University and was promoted to Reader, a position he held till his death. A highly successful teacher, Guhathakurta instilled in his students a love for good literature and the humanist ideals that he cherished all his life. The Pakistan Army raided the Dhaka University campus on 25 March 1971, Guhathakurta's flat was broken into and he was shot. He succumbed to his wounds at the DMCH on March 30.

Dr. MAM Faizul Mahi
Born in 1939 at Feni, Dr. Faizul Mahi was known to his friends as a progressive personality. He was not vocal compared to many of his colleagues in the university but very much dedicated to the cause of war of liberation that was going on from March to December, helping the freedom fighters from within keeping a low profile, a very difficult job indeed. But he could not keep secret his real identity from the watchful eyes of the collaborators some of whom happend to be his colleagues within IER.

Mahi joined the Institute of Education and Research in 1968 after obtaining Ed. D (doctorate in education) and then soon became Senior Lecturer. He was a dedicated teacher.

The beastly Al Badr group picked him up on 14 December from his home.

Sirajul Haque Khan
Dr. Sirajul Haque Khan was born in 1924 in the district of Noakhali. He graduated in Education in 1949 and then he obtained M. Ed degree from IER, DU, in 1965. Later on he obtained Ed. D from the State College of Colorado, USA in 1967 after which he joined IER, DU as a senior lecturer.

A group of Al -Badr members took him forcibly in a bus in the morning of 14 December, 1971 to an unknown destination from where he never returned to his beloved family. The brutal collaborators killed him.

Ghyasuddin Ahmed
Ghyasuddin Ahmed was born in Narsingdi in 1935. He passed matriculation from St. Gregory High School, Dhaka in 1950 and I.A. from Notre Dame College in 1952. He passed B.A. (Hons) and M.A. in History from Dhaka University in 1957. He joined Jagannath College in the History department as lecturer and later joined Dhaka University in 1958. He went to the UK with Commonwealth Scholarship in 1964 and obtained Honours degree in World History from London School of Economics.

Accused of helping in the liberation war of Bangladesh he was taken to Dhaka Cantonment for questioning. He was released after a few days. Then again on 14 December 1971 he was picked up from Mohsin Hall by the Al Badar forces. On 4 January 1972 his clothes and mutilated body were identified in Mirpur area.

Mohammad Fazle Rabbi
Dr. Mohammad Fazle Rabbi was born in Pabna in 1932. He was a brilliant student from childhood. He passed matriculation from Pabna Zilla School in 1948 and I.Sc from Dhaka College in 1950. He was an activist during the Language Movement in 1952. He passed MBBS from Dhaka Medical College in 1955. He received gold medal for securing top position in MBBS examination. He joined Dhaka Medical College and Hospital as assistant surgeon in 1956. In 1959-60 he was promoted to the post of registrar in medicine. He obtained MRCP in cardiology from Edinborough in England and worked at various hospitals in that country to acquire experience. In 1962 he obtained MRCP in general medicine from England. He came back to the country in 1963 and joined Dhaka Medical College and Hospital as associate professor of medicine. In 1968 he worked as professor of medicine and professor of cardiology at the same time.

He was known as a progressive political personality and social worker. He was first to talk about the concept of people-oriented health care system in 1969. Besides teaching he used to do research also. His research-based articles have been published in British Medical Journal and Lancet. He had started to write a book on medicine but could not finish it.

Dr. Fazle Rabbi married in 1957. He became a proud father of a son and a daughter. Regarding his death his wife Dr. Jahanara Rabbi has to say the following:

On 15 December the curfew was relaxed for two hours. Despite his wife's objection he had gone to see a non-Bengali patient in the old part of Dhaka. He had bought plenty of vegetables on his way back. Though his wife requested him repeatedly to move out from the house at 75, Shiddeshwari, he did not agree. On that fateful day he took some rest after lunch. In the afternoon, members of Pakistan army, Al Badar and Rajakars circled his house. They came in a microbus and a jeep. About six soldiers took him towards the jeep. As his wife came out running they pointed a gun at her and stopped her from advancing any farther. Dr. Rabbi walked towards the jeep with his head held high. It was known that on 15 December midnight Dr. Rabbi along with some other intellectuals were taken in a truck from the Lalmatia Physical Training Institute to the Rayerbazar brickfield and murdered in a brutal manner. His dead body was identified on 18 December.

Selina Parvin
Selina Parvin was born in Noakhali in 1931. She was a poet and a journalist. She had her primary education in Feni. She became an avid reader of Bengali literature. She took a job at weekly 'Lalana.' Then she started her own literary magazine 'Shilalipi.' She also began to write poems, short stories and essays. On 14 December 1971, she was murdered by Al Badar.

Gobinda Chandra Dev
Gobinda Chandra Dev was born in Sylhet in 1907. He was a philosopher and an educationist. He passed entrance examination in first division from Biani Bazar High English School in 1925 and I.A from Ripon College, Calcutta in 1927. He passed B.A honours and M.A in philosophy from Calcutta University in 1939. He was placed in the first class first position in both the examinations. He received Ph.D degree from the same university for his thesis on 'Reason, intuition and reality.' Later he got involved in research and worked as teacher in Calcutta and Dinajpur.

He joined Dhaka University as a professor of philosophy in 1953 and was later promoted as chairman of the department of philosophy in 1970. He taught in a college in Pensyvania, USA as a visiting professor. It was at this time that his admirers founded "The Gobinda Dev Foundation for World Brotherhood." On return to Dhaka he founded the Philosophy Bhaban in 1971.

Among his publications are: A new defence and a new application; Aspiration of the common man; The philosophy of Bibekananda and the future of man; Amar Jibon Darshan; Tattabidyashar; Buddha, the humanist.

A life-long bachelor, Dr. G.C. Dev was brutally murdered by the Pakistani forces on the night of 25 March 1971 in his campus quarters.

Nizamuddin Ahmed
Nizamuddin Ahmed was born in Munshiganj in 1929. He was a journalist. He passed B.A (Hons) and M.A in Economics from Dhaka University in 1959. Later he joined Pakistan Press International. He became the editor of PPI in 1969 and was promoted to the rank of general manager.

Nizamuddin Ahmed was an ardent supporter of the liberation war of Bangladesh. He used to send news items on the atrocities of the Pakistani forces to various foreign news media. He had taken New York Times journalist McBrown to a guerrilla camp to collect authentic news. He provided BBC with authentic news under strict censorship. For this reason he was taken to General Rao Forman Ali's office on two occasions.

On 12 December 1971, Nizamuddin was taking his lunch when members of Al Badar picked him up from his residence. His body was never found.

Kaminikumar Ghosh
Kaminikumar Ghosh was born in Chittagong in 1888. In Chittagong he was known as Rai Shaheb Kaminikumar Ghosh. He passed all examinations under the Calcutta University with scholarship. He served Chittagong District Board as member for 28 years and as its vice chairman for seven years. He was also actively involved with the local schools and colleges. He served as chairman of Kanchana Union Board for 25 years. He set up many cooperatives in Satkania. He also set up Satkania College and served as its first principal. He worked as a lawyer for 50 years.

On 25 April 1971, Pakistani soldiers brutally killed him.

Meherunnesa was born in 1946 in West Bengal, India. She migrated to the then East Pakistan with her family as refugee and settled in Mirpur, Dhaka. She worked in various newspapers as proofreader and wrote short stories and poems. Her first poem 'Chashi' was printed on Khelaghor page of the Daily Sangbad in 1952.

On 25 March 1971, she was killed by some non-Bengali people in Mirpur.

Syed Nazmul Haque
Syed Nazmul Haque was born in Khulna in 1941. He was a journalist. He passed B.A. (Hons) and M.A. in Political Science from Dhaka university in 1963 and 1964 respectively. He took active part in the anti-martial law movement in 1962. He was arrested for disrupting the convocation programme on the DU campus in 1964 where the then governor of East Pakistan Abdul Monem Khan was present. He passed the superior service examination in 1967 and was selected for the information service. But because of the police case against him for disrupting the convocation he was not allowed to join the service.

He later took up journalism as a fulltime profession. He became the chief reporter of Pakistan Press International and Dhaka correspondent of Columbia Broadcasting Service. He prepared a full report on the proceedings of Agartala Conspiracy Case. He sent news items on the atrocities carried out by the Pakistani forces during the liberation war of Bangladesh. On 6 August 1971 he was arrested in Dhaka and sent to a prison in West Pakistan. He was given pressure to testify against Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in a secret trial. On getting release in November 1971 he came back to Dhaka. On 11 December 1971, he was picked up from his Purana Paltan house by the members of Al Badar. His dead body was never found.

Monday, December 11, 2006

'We can put poverty into museums'


'We can put poverty into museums'
Nobel lecture presented by Prof Muhammad Yunus at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony on Dec 10, 2006 in Oslo

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Honorable Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Grameen Bank and I are deeply honoured to receive this most prestigious of awards. We are thrilled and overwhelmed by this honour. Since the Nobel Peace Prize was announced, I have received endless messages from around the world, but what moves me most are the calls I get almost daily, from the borrowers of Grameen Bank in remote Bangladeshi villages, who just want to say how proud they are to have received this recognition.
Nine elected representatives of the 7 million borrowers-cum-borrowers of Grameen Bank have accompanied me all the way to Oslo to receive the prize. I express thanks on their behalf to the Norwegian Nobel Committee for choosing Grameen Bank for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. By giving their institution the most prestigious prize in the world, you give them unparalleled honour. Thanks to your prize, nine proud women from the villages of Bangladesh are at the ceremony today as Nobel laureates, giving an altogether new meaning to the Nobel Peace Prize.

All borrowers of Grameen Bank are celebrating this day as the greatest day of their lives. They are gathering around the nearest television set in their villages all over Bangladesh, along with other villagers, to watch the proceedings of this ceremony.

This years' prize gives highest honour and dignity to the hundreds of millions of women all around the world who struggle every day to make a living and bring hope for a better life for their children. This is a historic moment for them.

Poverty is a Threat to Peace
Ladies and Gentlemen:
By giving us this prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has given important support to the proposition that peace is inextricably linked to poverty. Poverty is a threat to peace.

World's income distribution gives a very telling story. Ninety four percent of the world income goes to 40 percent of the population while sixty percent of people live on only 6 per cent of world income. Half of the world population lives on two dollars a day. Over one billion people live on less than a dollar a day. This is no formula for peace.

The new millennium began with a great global dream. World leaders gathered at the United Nations in 2000 and adopted, among others, a historic goal to reduce poverty by half by 2015. Never in human history had such a bold goal been adopted by the entire world in one voice, one that specified time and size. But then came September 11 and the Iraq war, and suddenly the world became derailed from the pursuit of this dream, with the attention of world leaders shifting from the war on poverty to the war on terrorism. Till now over $ 530 billion has been spent on the war in Iraq by the USA alone.

I believe terrorism cannot be won over by military action. Terrorism must be condemned in the strongest language. We must stand solidly against it, and find all the means to end it. We must address the root causes of terrorism to end it for all time to come. I believe that putting resources into improving the lives of the poor people is a better strategy than spending it on guns.

Poverty is Denial of All Human Rights
Peace should be understood in a human way in a broad social, political and economic way. Peace is threatened by unjust economic, social and political order, absence of democracy, environmental degradation and absence of human rights.

Poverty is the absence of all human rights. The frustrations, hostility and anger generated by abject poverty cannot sustain peace in any society. For building stable peace we must find ways to provide opportunities for people to live decent lives.

The creation of opportunities for the majority of people - the poor - is at the heart of the work that we have dedicated ourselves to during the past 30 years.

Grameen Bank
I became involved in the poverty issue not as a policymaker or a researcher. I became involved because poverty was all around me, and I could not turn away from it. In 1974, I found it difficult to teach elegant theories of economics in the university classroom, in the backdrop of a terrible famine in Bangladesh. Suddenly, I felt the emptiness of those theories in the face of crushing hunger and poverty. I wanted to do something immediate to help people around me, even if it was just one human being, to get through another day with a little more ease. That brought me face to face with poor people's struggle to find the tiniest amounts of money to support their efforts to eke out a living. I was shocked to discover a woman in the village, borrowing less than a dollar from the money-lender, on the condition that he would have the exclusive right to buy all she produces at the price he decides. This, to me, was a way of recruiting slave labor.

I decided to make a list of the victims of this money-lending "business" in the village next door to our campus.

When my list was done, it had the names of 42 victims who borrowed a total amount of US $ 27. I offered US $ 27 from my own pocket to get these victims out of the clutches of those money-lenders. The excitement that was created among the people by this small action got me further involved in it. If I could make so many people so happy with such a tiny amount of money, why not do more of it?

That is what I have been trying to do ever since. The first thing I did was to try to persuade the bank located in the campus to lend money to the poor. But that did not work. The bank said that the poor were not creditworthy. After all my efforts, over several months, failed I offered to become a guarantor for the loans to the poor. I was stunned by the result. The poor paid back their loans, on time, every time! But still I kept confronting difficulties in expanding the program through the existing banks. That was when I decided to create a separate bank for the poor, and in 1983, I finally succeeded in doing that. I named it Grameen Bank or Village bank.

Today, Grameen Bank gives loans to nearly 7.0 million poor people, 97 per cent of whom are women, in 73,000 villages in Bangladesh. Grameen Bank gives collateral-free income generating, housing, student and micro-enterprise loans to the poor families and offers a host of attractive savings, pension funds and insurance products for its members. Since it introduced them in 1984, housing loans have been used to construct 640,000 houses. The legal ownership of these houses belongs to the women themselves.

We focused on women because we found giving loans to women always brought more benefits to the family.

In a cumulative way the bank has given out loans totaling about US $ 6.0 billion. The repayment rate is 99%. Grameen Bank routinely makes profit. Financially, it is self-reliant and has not taken donor money since 1995. Deposits and own resources of Grameen Bank today amount to 143 per cent of all outstanding loans. According to Grameen Bank's internal survey, 58 per cent of our borrowers have crossed the poverty line.

Grameen Bank was born as a tiny homegrown project run with the help of several of my students, all local girls and boys. Three of these students are still with me in Grameen Bank, after all these years, as its topmost executives. They are here today to receive this honour you give us.

This idea, which began in Jobra, a small village in Bangladesh, has spread around the world and there are now Grameen type programs in almost every country.

Second Generation
It is 30 years now since we began. We keep looking at the children of our borrowers to see what has been the impact of our work on their lives. The women who are our borrowers always gave topmost priority to the children. One of the Sixteen Decisions developed and followed by them was to send children to school. Grameen Bank encouraged them, and before long all the children were going to school. Many of these children made it to the top of their class. We wanted to celebrate that, so we introduced scholarships for talented students. Grameen Bank now gives 30,000 scholarships every year.

Many of the children went on to higher education to become doctors, engineers, college teachers and other professionals. We introduced student loans to make it easy for Grameen students to complete higher education. Now some of them have PhD's. There are 13,000 students on student loans. Over 7,000 students are now added to this number annually.

We are creating a completely new generation that will be well equipped to take their families way out of the reach of poverty. We want to make a break in the historical continuation of poverty.

Beggars Can Turn to Business
In Bangladesh 80 percent of the poor families have already been reached with microcredit. We are hoping that by 2010, 100 per cent of the poor families will be reached.

Three years ago we started an exclusive programme focusing on the beggars. None of Grameen Bank's rules apply to them. Loans are interest-free; they can pay whatever amount they wish, whenever they wish. We gave them the idea to carry small merchandise such as snacks, toys or household items, when they went from house to house for begging. The idea worked. There are now 85,000 beggars in the program. About 5,000 of them have already stopped begging completely. Typical loan to a beggar is $ 12.

We encourage and support every conceivable intervention to help the poor fight out of poverty. We always advocate microcredit in addition to all other interventions, arguing that microcredit makes those interventions work better.

Information Technology for the Poor
Information and communication technology (ICT) is quickly changing the world, creating distanceless, borderless world of instantaneous communications. Increasingly, it is becoming less and less costly. I saw an opportunity for the poor people to change their lives if this technology could be brought to them to meet their needs.

As a first step to bring ICT to the poor we created a mobile phone company, Grameen Phone. We gave loans from Grameen Bank to the poor women to buy mobile phones to sell phone services in the villages. We saw the synergy between microcredit and ICT.

The phonebusiness was a success and became a coveted enterprise for Grameen borrowers. Telephone-ladies quickly learned and innovated the ropes of the telephone business, and it has become the quickest way to get out of poverty and to earn social respectability. Today there are nearly 300,000 telephone ladies providing telephone service in all the villages of Bangladesh. Grameen Phone has more than 10 million subscribers, and is the largest mobile phone company in the country. Although the number of telephone-ladies is only a small fraction of the total number of subscribers, they generate 19 per cent of the revenue of the company. Out of the nine board members who are attending this grand ceremony today 4 are telephone-ladies.

Grameen Phone is a joint-venture company owned by Telenor of Norway and Grameen Telecom of Bangladesh. Telenor owns 62 per cent share of the company, Grameen Telecom owns 38 per cent. Our vision was to ultimately convert this company into a social business by giving majority ownership to the poor women of Grameen Bank. We are working towards that goal. Someday Grameen Phone will become another example of a big enterprise owned by the poor.

Free Market Economy
Capitalism centers on the free market. It is claimed that the freer the market, the better is the result of capitalism in solving the questions of what, how, and for whom. It is also claimed that the individual search for personal gains brings collective optimal result.

I am in favor of strengthening the freedom of the market. At the same time, I am very unhappy about the conceptual restrictions imposed on the players in the market. This originates from the assumption that entrepreneurs are one-dimensional human beings, who are dedicated to one mission in their business lives to maximize profit. This interpretation of capitalism insulates the entrepreneurs from all political, emotional, social, spiritual, environmental dimensions of their lives. This was done perhaps as a reasonable simplification, but it stripped away the very essentials of human life.

Human beings are a wonderful creation embodied with limitless human qualities and capabilities. Our theoretical constructs should make room for the blossoming of those qualities, not assume them away.

Many of the world's problems exist because of this restriction on the players of free-market. The world has not resolved the problem of crushing poverty that half of its population suffers. Healthcare remains out of the reach of the majority of the world population. The country with the richest and freest market fails to provide healthcare for one-fifth of its population.

We have remained so impressed by the success of the free-market that we never dared to express any doubt about our basic assumption. To make it worse, we worked extra hard to transform ourselves, as closely as possible, into the one-dimensional human beings as conceptualized in the theory, to allow smooth functioning of free market mechanism.

By defining "entrepreneur" in a broader way we can change the character of capitalism radically, and solve many of the unresolved social and economic problems within the scope of the free market. Let us suppose an entrepreneur, instead of having a single source of motivation (such as, maximizing profit), now has two sources of motivation, which are mutually exclusive, but equally compelling a) maximization of profit and b) doing good to people and the world.

Each type of motivation will lead to a separate kind of business. Let us call the first type of business a profit-maximizing business, and the second type of business as social business.

Social business will be a new kind of business introduced in the market place with the objective of making a difference in the world. Investors in the social business could get back their investment, but will not take any dividend from the company. Profit would be ploughed back into the company to expand its outreach and improve the quality of its product or service. A social business will be a non-loss, non-dividend company.

Once social business is recognized in law, many existing companies will come forward to create social businesses in addition to their foundation activities. Many activists from the non-profit sector will also find this an attractive option. Unlike the non-profit sector where one needs to collect donations to keep activities going, a social business will be self-sustaining and create surplus for expansion since it is a non-loss enterprise. Social business will go into a new type of capital market of its own, to raise capital.

Young people all around the world, particularly in rich countries, will find the concept of social business very appealing since it will give them a challenge to make a difference by using their creative talent. Many young people today feel frustrated because they cannot see any worthy challenge, which excites them, within the present capitalist world. Socialism gave them a dream to fight for. Young people dream about creating a perfect world of their own.

Almost all social and economic problems of the world will be addressed through social businesses. The challenge is to innovate business models and apply them to produce desired social results cost-effectively and efficiently. Healthcare for the poor, financial services for the poor, information technology for the poor, education and training for the poor, marketing for the poor, renewable energy - these are all exciting areas for social businesses.

Social business is important because it addresses very vital concerns of mankind. It can change the lives of the bottom 60 per cent of world population and help them to get out of poverty.

Grameen's Social Business
Even profit maximizing companies can be designed as social businesses by giving full or majority ownership to the poor. This constitutes a second type of social business. Grameen Bank falls under this category of social business.

The poor could get the shares of these companies as gifts by donors, or they could buy the shares with their own money. The borrowers with their own money buy Grameen Bank shares, which cannot be transferred to non-borrowers. A committed professional team does the day-to-day running of the bank.

Bilateral and multi-lateral donors could easily create this type of social business. When a donor gives a loan or a grant to build a bridge in the recipient country, it could create a "bridge company" owned by the local poor. A committed management company could be given the responsibility of running the company. Profit of the company will go to the local poor as dividend, and towards building more bridges. Many infrastructure projects, like roads, highways, airports, seaports, utility companies could all be built in this manner.

Grameen has created two social businesses of the first type. One is a yogurt factory, to produce fortified yogurt to bring nutrition to malnourished children, in a joint venture with Danone. It will continue to expand until all malnourished children of Bangladesh are reached with this yogurt. Another is a chain of eye-care hospitals. Each hospital will undertake 10,000 cataract surgeries per year at differentiated prices to the rich and the poor.

Social Stock Market
To connect investors with social businesses, we need to create social stock market where only the shares of social businesses will be traded. An investor will come to this stock-exchange with a clear intention of finding a social business, which has a mission of his liking. Anyone who wants to make money will go to the existing stock-market.

To enable a social stock-exchange to perform properly, we will need to create rating agencies, standardization of terminology, definitions, impact measurement tools, reporting formats, and new financial publications, such as, The Social Wall Street Journal. Business schools will offer courses and business management degrees on social businesses to train young managers how to manage social business enterprises in the most efficient manner, and, most of all, to inspire them to become social business entrepreneurs themselves.

Role of Social Businesses in Globalization
I support globalization and believe it can bring more benefits to the poor than its alternative. But it must be the right kind of globalization. To me, globalization is like a hundred-lane highway criss-crossing the world. If it is a free-for-all highway, its lanes will be taken over by the giant trucks from powerful economies. Bangladeshi rickshaw will be thrown off the highway. In order to have a win-win globalization we must have traffic rules, traffic police, and traffic authority for this global highway. Rule of "strongest takes it all" must be replaced by rules that ensure that the poorest have a place and piece of the action, without being elbowed out by the strong. Globalization must not become financial imperialism.

Powerful multi-national social businesses can be created to retain the benefit of globalization for the poor people and poor countries. Social businesses will either bring ownership to the poor people, or keep the profit within the poor countries, since taking dividends will not be their objective. Direct foreign investment by foreign social businesses will be exciting news for recipient countries. Building strong economies in the poor countries by protecting their national interest from plundering companies will be a major area of interest for the social businesses.

We Create What We Want
We get what we want, or what we don't refuse. We accept the fact that we will always have poor people around us, and that poverty is part of human destiny. This is precisely why we continue to have poor people around us. If we firmly believe that poverty is unacceptable to us, and that it should not belong to a civilized society, we would have built appropriate institutions and policies to create a poverty-free world.

We wanted to go to the moon, so we went there. We achieve what we want to achieve. If we are not achieving something, it is because we have not put our minds to it. We create what we want.

What we want and how we get to it depends on our mindsets. It is extremely difficult to change mindsets once they are formed. We create the world in accordance with our mindset. We need to invent ways to change our perspective continually and reconfigure our mindset quickly as new knowledge emerges. We can reconfigure our world if we can reconfigure our mindset.

We Can Put Poverty in the Museums
I believe that we can create a poverty-free world because poverty is not created by poor people. It has been created and sustained by the economic and social system that we have designed for ourselves; the institutions and concepts that make up that system; the policies that we pursue.

Poverty is created because we built our theoretical framework on assumptions which under-estimates human capacity, by designing concepts, which are too narrow (such as concept of business, credit- worthiness, entrepreneurship, employment) or developing institutions, which remain half-done (such as financial institutions, where poor are left out). Poverty is caused by the failure at the conceptual level, rather than any lack of capability on the part of people.

I firmly believe that we can create a poverty-free world if we collectively believe in it. In a poverty-free world, the only place you would be able to see poverty is in the poverty museums. When school children take a tour of the poverty museums, they would be horrified to see the misery and indignity that some human beings had to go through. They would blame their forefathers for tolerating this inhuman condition, which existed for so long, for so many people.

A human being is born into this world fully equipped not only to take care of him or herself, but also to contribute to enlarging the well being of the world as a whole. Some get the chance to explore their potential to some degree, but many others never get any opportunity, during their lifetime, to unwrap the wonderful gift they were born with. They die unexplored and the world remains deprived of their creativity, and their contribution.

Grameen has given me an unshakeable faith in the creativity of human beings. This has led me to believe that human beings are not born to suffer the misery of hunger and poverty.

To me poor people are like bonsai trees. When you plant the best seed of the tallest tree in a flower-pot, you get a replica of the tallest tree, only inches tall. There is nothing wrong with the seed you planted, only the soil-base that is too inadequate. Poor people are bonsai people. There is nothing wrong in their seeds. Simply, society never gave them the base to grow on. All it needs to get the poor people out of poverty for us to create an enabling environment for them. Once the poor can unleash their energy and creativity, poverty will disappear very quickly.

Let us join hands to give every human being a fair chance to unleash their energy and creativity.

Ladies and Gentlemen:
Let me conclude by expressing my deep gratitude to the Norwegian Nobel Committee for recognizing that poor people, and especially poor women, have both the potential and the right to live a decent life, and that microcredit helps to unleash that potential.

I believe this honor that you give us will inspire many more bold initiatives around the world to make a historical breakthrough in ending global poverty.

Thank you very much.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Nobel Winner Urges Defeat Of Poverty

I was reading this news and then found a quick link to Bangladesh.
This is what people use to define Bangladesh!
Bangladesh came into existence in 1971 when Bengali East Pakistan
seceded from its union with West Pakistan. About a third of this
extremely poor country floods annually during the monsoon rainy
season, hampering economic development.
Source: CIA World Fact Book

Wakeup WORLD! We are new Bangladesh. We will put poverty in the
museum. Know the new Bangladesh.. Here it is..


Nobel Winner Urges Defeat Of Poverty
Bangladeshi Economist, Creator Of Microcredit For Poor, Receives 2006
Peace Prize In Oslo Ceremony
OSLO, Norway, Dec. 10, 2006

(AP) Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus, often called the banker to
the poor, received the Nobel Peace Prize on Sunday for his efforts to
relieve poverty as a cornerstone for building peace.

Yunus, 66, often called the banker to the poor, shared the coveted
award with his creation, Grameen Bank, for helping people, even
beggars, rise above poverty by giving them microcredit — small,
usually unsecured loans. The Bangladeshi economist is the developer
and founder of the concept of microcredit.

The first Nobel laureate from Bangladesh, Yunus and Grameen Bank bard
member Mosammat Taslima Begum accepted the $1.4 million prize from
awards committee chairman Ole Danbolt Mjoes at a ceremony in Oslo.

Receiving the award on behalf of the Grameen Bank was Bangladeshi
woman Mosammat Taslima Begum, a member of the bank's board, who has
herself borrowed money from the bank.

The ceremony was attended by members of the Norwegian Royal family
including King Harald, Queen Sonja and Crown Prince Haakon.

In his Nobel lecture Yunus said the world must overcome poverty if it
ever wants to achieve peace.

"I believe terrorism cannot be won over by military action. Terrorism
must be condemned in the strongest language. We must stand solidly
against it, and find all the means to end it. We must address the root
causes of terrorism to end it for all time to come. I believe that
putting resources into improving the lives of the poor people is a
better strategy than spending it on guns," he said.

Grameen Bank, set up in 1983, was the first lender to provide
microcredit, giving very small loans to poor Bangladeshis who did not
qualify for loans from conventional banks.

No collateral is needed, and repayment is based on an honour system,
with nearly a 100 percent repayment rate.

Yunus said the idea has spread around the world, with similar
programmes in almost every country.

Yunus described the success of the bank which continues to profit from
providing loans to poor Bangladeshi women.

"Grameen Bank gives loans to nearly seven million poor people, 97 per
cent of them are women, in 73,000 villages in Bangladesh," said Yunus.

"Grameen Bank gives collateral-free income generating loans, housing
loans, student loans and micro-enterprise loans to the poor families
and offers a host of attractive savings, pension funds and insurance
products for its members," he added.

Guests at the ceremony were treated to a performance of traditional
Bangladeshi dancing and operatic singing.

Following his lecture, Yunus was personally congratulated by the royal
members present.

In Bangladesh, thousands of people set aside their nation's latest
political crisis on Sunday to watch live television coverage of their
receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway.

Many residents, who stayed glued to their TVs throughout the day to
get the latest news on the deployment of army troops to contain a
growing political chaos, ended up watching the ceremony, which was
broadcast live from Oslo on state-run Bangladesh Television and most
private channels.

In Yunus's home district of Chittagong, several thousand citizens
squatted or stood around a large screen put up at a stadium.

People clapped and shouted, "Long live Bangladesh" when Yunus spoke a
few words in Bangla, the national language, during his Nobel speech.

Abdul Salam, 35, who owns a sports shop near the stadium, said, "He is
a son of Chittagong. We are so proud of him, he has brightened our
country's image worldwide," said Salam.

Villagers, many of whom have benefited from Grameen Bank's small-loan
programs, also watched in groups at local shops.

They were thrilled when one of their own, Taslima Begum, a Grameen
borrower from northern Rajshahi district, accepted the prize on their
behalf at the Oslo City Hall.

"We are so happy, wish we could all have gone there," said Samida
Begum, talking by telephone from Kelia village near Dhaka. Begum runs
a phone call shop started with a Grameen Bank loan almost 18 years
ago. Her family also owns a poultry shop started with a loan from

Bangladeshis watch Nobel ceremony live


Bangladeshis watch Nobel ceremony live

DHAKA, Bangladesh: Thousands of people in Bangladesh set aside their
nation's latest political crisis on Sunday to watch live television
coverage of countryman Muhammad Yunus and the bank he founded
receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway.

Many residents, who stayed glued to their TVs throughout the day to
get the latest news on the deployment of army troops to contain
growing political chaos, ended up watching the ceremony, which was
broadcast live from Oslo on state-run Bangladesh Television and most
private channels.

In Yunus's home district of Chittagong, several thousand citizens
squatted or stood around a large screen erected at a stadium.

People clapped and shouted, "Long live Bangladesh" when Yunus spoke a
few words in Bangla, the national language, during his Nobel speech.

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Hong Kong picks members of election committee

"I have never experienced such happiness," said Abdul Salam, 35, who
owns a sports shop near the stadium. "He is a son of Chittagong. We
are so proud of him, he has brightened our country's image worldwide,"
said Salam.

Chittagong is 216 kilometers (135 miles) southeast of the capital, Dhaka.

Grameen Bank, set up by Yunus in 1983, was the first lender to provide
microcredit, giving very small loans to poor Bangladeshis who did not
qualify for loans from conventional banks. No collateral is needed,
and repayment is based on an honor system, with nearly a 100 percent
repayment rate.

Villagers, many of whom have benefited from Grameen Bank's small-loan
programs, also watched in groups with their neighbors or at local

They were thrilled when one of their own, Taslima Begum, a Grameen
borrower from northern Rajshahi district, accepted the prize on their
behalf at the Oslo City Hall.

"We are so happy, wish we could all have gone there," said Samida
Begum, talking by telephone from Kelia village near Dhaka. Begum runs
a phone call shop started with a Grameen Bank loan almost 18 years
ago. Her family also owns a poultry shop started with a loan from
Grameen, which has about 7 million borrowers.


Associated Press writer Osman Gani Mansoor in Chittagong also
contributed to this report.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

How to TOEFL iBT

Finally got my TOEFL iBT score! I was really terrified about this score, because lot of things depend on this. Most importantly, TOEFL score can make-up as GRE Verbal (I hope so.) So, I needed a moderate score, so that I can apply to any universities that I had short-listed. 

So the final score was, 104 (out of 120; equivalent to CBT 257 and PBT 613) [Reading: 26 (30), Listening: 26 (30), Speaking: 24 (30), Writing: 28 (30)]. 

Of-course, this is not very high score but you need at-most 100 to apply for a PhD program. I am more than happy with my score after a frustrating GRE Verbal 360!! However, after my score I was trying to estimate how good/bad is my score and how other people are scoring in this newly adopted Internet Based TOEFL exam, known as iBT. 

These two links can help you to understand about new TOEFL exam. Even though ETS (Educational Testing System, who takes these exams) scale iBT 100 as equivalent to CBT 250 and PBT 600, it is not that easy! At least, this is what I understood from these reviews. One test taker even commented that TOEFL iBT is tougher than GRE!

I don't have any idea of TOEFL CBT (Computer based) or PBT (Paper based) exams. But from the reviews what I understood is, earlier tests were more on "what you know about the language". They had separate sections on structures and grammars, besides usual listening, reading and writing. The new iBT is more like "how well you can use the language" or "how well you can communicate with the language". 
Someone gave a short (and good) description of new iBT test. I have pasted it below, rest of my email will follow after this. 

source: <>

furkankoksal <> wrote: Hi ,
I ve taken the Toefl test on saturday and I must say it was damn hard !

Let me tell you sth,,

1.In the reading section; the whole reading passage appears and so 
does the countdown timer. But the thing is, dont you ever, ever start 
reading the whole passage paragraph by paragraph ! That will be 
nothing but wasting time. You should jump to the questions and try to 
find out the answer on the passage at once. Do not ever wait or think 
more than a minute. Cuz guys, time is rollin !!

2.Its too much in IBT , and forget about the CBT. The passages are 
almost 10 paragraphs and have advanced vocabulary. So you d better be 
prepared to the show . (both physically and phsychologically)

3. The listening section has 3 parts and everypart has 1 dialogue and 
2 lectures so that makes 3 dialogus and 6 lectures in total. There is 
one pencil and some papers, ur pencil may go off, so u may need to 
take a pencil sharpener with you :) (I dont think u ll have time to 
sharpen though). You will pray for the break time !

4. After the break(10 mins),is the speaking section . Following a 
short microphone control thing, you ll be asked a simple question 
related to to ur opinion on a specific topic. You will have 15 sec to 
prepare for ur response, and 45 seconds to talk. Then, integrated 
section comes, you ll see a reading passage and a listening passage 
which has the opposite idea of that in the reading passage. and you 
are asked to answer the questions. you have to answer the questions 
only by using details given in the reading and listening passages. But 
keep in mind that you ll have a limited time (about 30-40 seconds) to 
read the reading passage and to understand, then u will not be able to 
see it again . That s a crucial point. 
You are playing for time !!

5. Writing section , integrated part is just like the speaking section 
but the difference is that you can see the reading passage while you 
are writing. So grasp the idea in the listening passage, that will 
work. In this section, like the way LOngman adviced, you can go with 
"In this set of materials, the reading passage discusses .....while 
the listening passage discusses .......and ... ...differed 
considerably in their ideas of ....." 
Independent part is just like the CBT . write ur opinion about a 
specific topic. (for a succesful essay, u can check back the email of 
Saba- which includes some essay tips . Just scroll up on the mail 

Finally, the person sitting beside you may speak loudly and most 
importantly may start the speaking section before you (while u re in 
the listening section yet), dont let that disconcentrate you. He may 
talk loudly because he fears that his voice will not be recorded with 
his normal voice. But this is totally wrong. You dont need to speak 
loudly, a normal tone will be OK . 

You should move FAST !

Good Luck .

PS: The advices and the ideas indicated in this e-mail may not be 
suitable to everyone. This e-mail is here only for goodwill. 
Best regards 
Furkan Koksal


Okay! Now hopefully you have a better understanding about iBT. Let me tell you the truth, if I can get 100+ in iBT with 360 GRE verbal, you will do better than me. So start thinking that way. 

Now, let me share with you what helped me in the exam. 1st reading, as the email sender suggested don't read the whole paragraph at first, just skim through it. I support his views. I had to randomly select my last few questions of 1st essay. You have to very efficient, it is better if you practice more before the exam. Good part was, after my 1st essay, I was on-time for rest of the essays, because I understood how to handle it. I even had time and went to toilet during my last essay :) Even though my GRE score doesn't reflect I learned few vocabulary, but my short-cut high-frequency lists helped me a lot in the TOEFL iBT. One suggestion is, always give TOEFL after GRE. I also read lots of emails and news in English. I guess that helped too. 

Now listening. I thought I gave this section very well. But only 26. However, I am happy with it. 

Ugh Speaking! Whatever review you read, iBT speaking is very hard to every one. Even to peoples who are very fluent. Let me tell you my experience. In my two weeks' preparation I spent very little time for speaking, where I spent most of my time watching movies (I liked preparing for TOEFL:) You are watching movies and also preparing for a exam! I wish other exams were like this). When and how did I prepare for Speaking? I spoke to myself explaining things that can be asked in the test. It was easy, because, it is more like a conversation. But in the real test it was lot harder, I cannot even understand my own words! I was that nervous. Problem is, you can speak to people (a conversation) but when they tell you to speak after a beep! Its really hard, and your time (40 s - 60 s) ends just after you get the flow of speaking!! So, you should practice with beep and with time. I had another problem. Many people commented that 15-30 seconds break was very short. In my case, I found these unnecessary. It was my fault and I couldn't understand at that moment what mistake I am doing again and again. I was prepare in the break time, so I was trying to practice my speech during that 15-30 sec break, and when the original time starts, I am like, umm, umm, ugh, hmm, and no sound! I cannot repeat the same thing within few seconds. It might be better, if I just note down the points and speak when you are supposed to. See, if you have the same problem or not. If you do, then practice accordingly. 

Lastly writing! With my poor english I write a lot (mostly emails) and that helped me:) After my exam, I was satisfied with writing and listening. Writing was as expected but I expected better in listening. I wasn't sure how much I might get in reading and speaking, but I am more than happy with all the scores. Ooh! another thing for speaking. When I gave the exam, we were only 3 people in the 30 people's lab. Also in three corners. It helped a lot, because when other people are talking in the small room you cannot concentrate on your speaking. I must say, I was lucky. I have no idea, what would have happened, if there were test-takers just beside me! Few things you can do to avoid this situation. As you have seen above, the email sender suggests to move faster, so that you can start before other people. Practice talking when others are talking beside you and try to not to be distracted. (which is really hard. even with these 3 people, I was looking in the other person, who was speaking very confidently and I guess his exam was really good! But I have a bad habit of looking people in the exam hall:) In fact, I was getting nervous seeing him, because "beta boila fatai feltese, r amar mukh diye kothai bair hoitese na! faizlami naki." Whatever, bottom line is, try to concentrate on your own speaking:) You will do better. If you are not applying for graduate school this year, then you should remember a useful tip. Give the exam between Mid July - End of August. There is a possibility that there won't be too much rush in this period. After that time everyone start giving exam who targets fall session and before that everyone gives exam who targets spring session. 

When I gave my exam, iBT resources were not available in the market. Special thanks to Nafid and Hammad for letting me know about the American Center in Banani. After spending 4/5 days, I had the idea on how iBT test looks like. They have all the resources available for TOEFL iBT and other standard tests. If you can manage time (it is open only from 10AM to 4PM, sunday - wednesday, i guess), then you must go there. They have one day membership (50tk), one month (200 tk) and one year (500 tk) membership. Within this membership they also advise students on graduate school admission procedure. I haven't been there for the advise, but it might be helpful too. And I did an one year membership. 

So, thats my two cents! Hope that helps. Again, nothing is free! So pray for my graduate school application:) 
Take care.