Forever Under Construction

Nobel Peace Prize 2006

Posted in Economics, Justice, Social work by homeyra on December 14, 2006

PPGG has posted the complete information about the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Here is a short version. If there is one story worthy of recitation, it seems to be the following. Thank you PPGG.

Read the whole text here

Gandhi once observed that “Poverty is the worst form of violence.” Peace and justice are inextricably linked. 2006 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, the Bangladeshi economist and originator of the microcredit idea Muhammad Yunus, has given his Nobel Peace Prize lecture very much in this spirit.

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“Poverty is the absence of all human rights. The frustrations, hostility and anger generated by abject poverty cannot sustain peace in any society… I believe that putting resources into improving the lives of the poor people is a better strategy than spending it on guns.”

The difference between his successful ground-up strategies and the failed developmentalist models of the past is that it empowers and places responsibility with the lender, mostly small groups of female borrowers who apply for small amounts of credit to invest in small business projects such as making soap.

His strategy and that of the Grameen Bank is the innovative and cooperative microfinance model…the Bank’s continued wonderful success on the ground in alleviating poverty and improving lives is thoroughly deserving of its plaudits. See also the Grameen Foundation.

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See the 16 decisions of Grameen Bank

Excerpts from the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Lecture :

… By giving us this prize, the 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. 94% of the world income goes to 40% of the population while 60% of people live on only 6% of world income. Half of the world population lives on $2 a day. Over one billion people live on less than a dollar a day. This is no formula for peace. See Miniature Earth

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 … I believe terrorism cannot be won over by military action. … 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 the absence of all human rights. The frustrations, hostility and anger generated by abject poverty cannot sustain peace in any society.

I became involved because poverty was all around me. In 1974, I found it difficult to teach elegant theories of economics in the university classroom … I wanted to do something immediate to help people around me … That brought me face to face with poor people’s struggle … 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 … 42 victims (had) borrowed a total amount of US $27. I offered US $27 from my own pocket …

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.

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The first thing I did was to try to persuade the bank … to lend money to the poor… The bank said that the poor were not creditworthy… 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! … I decided to create a separate bank … 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% of whom are women, in 73,000 villages in Bangladesh…housing loans have been used to construct 640,000 houses… We focused on women because we found giving loans to women always brought more benefits to the family.

… the bank has given out loans totaling about US $6.0 billion. The repayment rate is 99%. Grameen Bank routinely makes profit… 58% of our borrowers have crossed the poverty line.

It is 30 years now since we began. We keep looking at the children of our borrowers … Grameen Bank now gives 30,000 scholarships every year…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…

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We shall not live in dilapidate houses. We shall repair our houses and work toward constructing new houses at the earliest.

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… Almost all social and economic problems of the world will be addressed … Healthcare, financial services, information technology, education and training and marketing for the poor, renewable energy − these are all exciting areas for social businesses …it addresses very vital concerns of mankind. It can change the lives of the bottom 60% of world population and help them to get out of poverty

Globalization … can bring more benefits to the poor than its alternative. But it must be the right kind …Globalization must not become financial imperialism.

We Create What We Want: …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 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…we built our theoretical framework on assumptions which under-estimates human capacity…

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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…

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.

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

13 Responses

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  1. peoplesgeography said, on December 14, 2006 at 10:31 pm

    Great stuff, and I like your presentation of the Grameen Bank links and principles amid highlights of the speech. Thanks for the pingback.

  2. homeyra said, on December 14, 2006 at 10:36 pm

    Thank you PPGG for you main selections. This is a great story, I had read about years ago and I am happy that Yunus will draw all the attention now and set an example. All of the ideas presented in his speech address true issues. What more are we waiting for?

  3. Bluebear2 said, on December 15, 2006 at 5:38 am

    And here in the land of the Grand Satan, Bush is asking for another 100 billion dollars to fight wars.

    How many could that feed?

    In the late ’60s, at my college, there was a guy who called himself “Tony Tuna”. His theory was that if we dropped tuna on Vietnam instead of bombs the peolpe would be able to eat and wouldn’t need to fight. He had buttons and
    posters with a fish on a parachute.

  4. homeyra said, on December 15, 2006 at 6:38 am

    🙂 Tony Tuna…
    I am curious to know where he is and what he does now. There are 2010 entries for “Tony Tuna” in google…. he might me one of them.

  5. Bluebear2 said, on December 15, 2006 at 4:05 pm

    I have no idea where he is now – that was almost 40 years ago!

    Try adding Steven’s Point State University or WSU Steven’s Point to your search.

  6. homeyra said, on December 15, 2006 at 4:45 pm

    Nope, no results, by the way you can admire my new sister city links🙂

  7. peoplesgeography said, on December 15, 2006 at 11:12 pm

    Looks g-r-e-at and laughed at the Land of the Great Satan lol. Icebreaker, indeed. But why elevate the likes of BushCo (and our own pathetic Prime Miniature here in Australia) by calling them ‘great’? Just a thought – I suppose the land of the satan doesn’t quite have the same ring!

  8. Bluebear2 said, on December 16, 2006 at 2:19 am

    I tried a search on Tony a while back when I remembered him one day in another conversation, but had no luck either.

    Yes I saw the Sister Site list. Cool!

  9. homeyra said, on December 16, 2006 at 5:55 am

    We like Great things over here, Cyrus the Great, we have Great poets and Great leaders and Great enemies. Beside friend and foe agree US is a Great country🙂

  10. peoplesgeography said, on December 16, 2006 at 7:21 am

    Well said Homeyra🙂 Great, in fact: Or, in web language – gr8😉

  11. Bluebear2 said, on December 17, 2006 at 6:30 pm

    Hey, We’ve got Great Lakes and a Grand Canyon!

    Oh, also the Great Divide, although I’m not talking about the Neocons and the Progressives, but rather the Rocky Mountains, East of which the rivers flow to the Atlantic and West to the Pacific.

  12. peoplesgeography said, on December 18, 2006 at 1:11 am

    LOL Great quip re Great Divide😉 And for good measure Australia is the Great Southern Land with the Great Dividing Range and the Great Australian Bight
    (that looks like a “bite”) .

  13. […] of which this month I had a few posts about philanthropic organizations. The Nobel Peace Prize 2006, Camila’s kidsco and Culturekicks. It really doesn’t cost anyone to find some time […]


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