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     Volume 5 Issue 117 | October 20, 2006 |

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An Honour for Bangladesh

The announcement of this year's Nobel Peace Prize going to Professor Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank was not a complete surprise as rumblings of such news have been in the air for quite a while. But this did not in any way diminish the excitement and euphoria of Bangladeshis here and abroad at being able to celebrate the first ever Bangladeshi to win this prestigious award. Prof. Yunus is also the third Bangalee after poet Rabindranath Tagore and economist Amartya Sen to win the Nobel Prize. It was Yunus's innovative pioneering of the use of micro-credit that won him the prize that might have gone to U2's lead singer Bono (for his charitable work in Africa).

It was Yunus's vision, through Grameen Bank, to offer collateral-free loans to millions of people, many of them women. With these small loans, these people were able to earn an income and come out of their abject state. The repayment rate of these loans has been also very remarkable -- almost 99 percent.

The connection between poverty and peace may not be as obvious as say, armed conflict solving. But according to Ole Danbolt Mjos, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one such means.

Yunus's first reaction upon receiving the news was: “This is fantastic news for all of us -- for Grameen Bank, Bangladesh and all the poor people around the world.”

Recipient of numerous national and international awards, Yunus described his latest achievement as 'the sky' but quickly added that this honour has placed a greater responsibility on Bangladesh and its people to eradicate poverty.



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