imperfect | world | 2010

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Dec 8,2010


It seems that 608 million (the documented 540 million aid NOK from NORAD and
other donors) were transferred WITHOUT INFORMING THE DONORS to Grameen Kalyan,
which had a completely different purpose than the Grameen Bank (among
other things, to create joint ventures, invest in other companies,
invest capital in shares, etc).

- 50 million had already been transferred to Grameen Telecom /
Grameenphone when the embassy raised the alarm.

- Embassy / NORAD originally demanded that all the Norwegian funds
would be returned and asked for a total amount of around 275

- Embassy / Norad agreed to a compromise of 170 million, which meant
that not all of the Norwegian funds Embassy / Norad at the time
believed was transferred was returned to the Grameen

- There is no evidence to show that Grameen Kalyan has returned rest of
the aid funds provided by other countries / institutions, as they
claim. Swedish aid agencies (SIDA) has provided evidence to us which
shows that Sweden gave 190 million Swedish kronor, which was
transferred from the Grameen Bank Grameen Kalyan. But they concluded
that they would not join in the Norway’s demand for repatriation of
funds because they did not want to damage the Grameen Bank’s good name and



Here is what Norway is saying. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs have however spectacularly failed to coordinate their story with Grameen’s response. There is a very definite disconnection between the two accounts.

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry states that their Embassy in Bangladesh “reacted immediately” and

“Following negotiations, it was agreed in May 1998 that NOK 170 million was to be transferred back from Grameen Kalyan to Grameen Bank.”

They also state that

“Norad’s report shows that Grameen Bank transferred a total of NOK 608.5 million to its sister company Grameen Kalyan in 1996″

IT IS CLEAR THAT A TRANSFER WAS MADE WITHOUT ANYONE BEING INFORMED. We also know from a letter dated May 27, 1998 that The Nowegian Embassy in Dhaka wrote a letter  to  Yunus where the embassy confirmed that they will accept the compromise proposal. It is that 170 million is returned from Grameen Kalyan to Grameen Bank. The remaining approximately 130 million kroner ( UPDATE ABOUT 105 MILLION) of Norway’s total support to the Grameen Bank could  in accordance with the compromise remain in Grameen Kalyan.

Total Norad money is not 170. It is 300 million. (UPDATE CIRCA NOK 275 MILLION NOT 300 ).  And what happened to the NOK 438.5 million? Quite clearly they insisted on the money going back but they didn’t manage to persuade Yunus to return all of it.

Grameen Bank’s response says:

“Afterwards not only Norad’s money, but the 100% of all donor’s money to the extent of Taka 3,474 million 501 thousand was “transferred back”, from Grameen Kalyan to Grameen Bank, although money was always in the Grameen Bank’s account.”

Very different stories there. 100 percent is not the same as the compromised NOK 170 million. And we know further that part of the money went to the profit making outfits Grameen Telecom/Grameen Phone from the embassy letter dated 10 February 1998 where it is stated:

“…..Grameen Kalyan has been able to pull funds out of the Grameen Bank and using them for purposes
other than they have been allocated by donors, and for other purposes than the Grameen Bank has the opportunity to provide loans. Grameen Kalyan has already granted BDT 300 million (approximately NOK 50
million) from these funds (SAF funds) to partially finance the project to the cellular Grameen Telecom / GrameenPhone.”

Are we surprised? Norway is the country which did not even set up an independent evaluation of the huge money that they gave to Grameen. Even after the transfers were detected, there was no evaluation of any sort after 1999. The attitude is one of condescension and aloofness - “lets just give these brown folk of Bangladesh the money and let them do what they want. We will have done our bit by throwing money at poor people. And that is all that counts.” That seems to be the vibe that is coming over like a bad smell.

Firdous Azim - gone bananas?

Jul 16,2009

How to dress up an explicitly Islamist agenda with research jargon and talk about “empowerment” and “modernising influences.


Jul 15,2009

Will they behave though?

Newscom: 14 July 2009 - Dhaka, Bangladesh - Director General of Bangladesh’s paramilitary border force Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) Mainul Islam (L) and Director General of the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) Mahendra Lal Kumawat attend a joint press conference in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, on July 14, 2009. Chiefs of the Bangladesh’s and Indian border forces on Tuesday concluded their three-day talks here with a broad-based agreement to maintain calm along the common borders combating trans-border crimes. Photo Credit: Palash Khan / Sipa Press/0907141624 Photo via Newscom

Tipaimukh dam protest

Jul 14,2009

Zumapress: Activists of United Society of Women shout slogans at a rally protesting India’s planned Tipaimukh dam over the cross-border Barak river, in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, on July 9, 2009. India’s planned Tipaimukh Hydroelectric Project and proposed dam has sparked fierce debates in both countries, with particular fears being raised in Bangladesh about the adverse environmental impact it may bring about.

Nilekani’s appointment

Jun 27,2009

ID Card is a big thing here in the UK. It looks like the Labour Party is setting up contractual obligations which will ensure that the ID project will survive Labour’s defeat in the next elections. However the Tories are on to this and have written to the 5 companies bidding for the contract telling them that no such obligation will be adhered to.

And in this very week when the Labour government made a big song and dance about using the “naughty boys” of the hacker world to combat “cyber-terrorism” it is worth remembering what one hacker did with ID technology. (scroll down for the article)

It is all fluff of course. Nothing is beyond hacking…not even the industrial golden goose called the iPhone. The whole cyber-terrorism thing that Estonia flagged up was a pretext for further ingratiating itself with big, protective Uncle Sam. And now we find this self-same poodling nonsense come to the UK as the plan is rolled out with the connivance of technology companies.

It comes as no surprise to me that those who least understand politics and who take a wholly technological approach - technologists whether hackers or mainstream - will benefit the most from these expensive and needless schemes. They think the solution to the world’s social and political problems are tecchie related. No don’t laugh, its true. Hence its entirely consistent to find that India’s ID card scheme is being headed by Infosys head honcho Nilekani. His appointment is equivalent to a cabinet minister. And get this ….his own company will be bidding for the project. You can’t make it up.

MI5 torture in Dhaka allegations

May 27,2009

MI5 torture allegation today. Compare that with the story written by an unheard of journo earlier in the week in the Indie. Rachel Shields, unless I am mistaken,  is not noted for writing about Bangladesh. In fact, apart from a few articles dealing with serious issues,  most of her articles are about lifestyle and fashion. And yet she is suddenly able to write about murky goings on in Bangladesh? What is murky are the MI5 torture allegations today. Is Rachel’s article a kind of spoiler or does it, like the tanks outside Heathrow in the past, help to establish a climate in which this government can seek to find a pretext for its activities?

Jan 19,2009

published in the Pakistan Observer. Chauvinist and ill-informed bilge by some clown called Ibn-e-Rehmat.

Craig Murray’s new book

Jan 11,2009

If you have read “Murder in Samarkand” then this is also a must

The Catholic Orangemen of Togo.

What can they expect?

Dec 29,2008


Dec 13,2008

in the form of quotations with the usual apologies…

“The difference between a (Bangladeshi) politician and a (Bangladeshi) pickpocket is that a pickpocket doesn’t always get indignant when you tell him to keep his hands to himself.” (Joseph Sobran)

“Looking for an honest (bangladeshi) politician is like looking for an ethical burglar.” (H L Mencken)

“When politics is used to allocate resources, the resources all end up being allocated to politics.” (P J O’Rourke)

“God has no role to play in politics except to make sure politicians go where they belong. To hell.” (P J O’Rourke)

“No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the (Bangladeshi) Legislature is in session.” (Judge Gideon J Tucker).

“Experience to a politician is like experience to a prostitute — not much to recommend them.” (Charley Reese)

Dec 12,2008


Suddenly there is a buzz that George should somehow be honoured by Bangladesh for his efforts in bringing to light the plight of Bangladeshis way back in 1971 through his Concert for Bangladesh. But this has been in the pipe works for about two  years. The Liberation War Museum have a plaque ready and are making some kind of effort to celebrate the ex-Beatle this coming February.  Is this a late attempt to raise some cash and to get some official response tagged on to their events?

BBC Report Here

Dec 11,2008

Yesterday was the 60th birthday of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It has grown old and states only pay lip service to it with a few exceptions here and there. What is surprising is that given that the document was drafted after the 2nd world war with countless displaced people and refugees, you would have thought the document would have contained some right of the UN to intervene on behalf of stateless people and asylum seekers? And yet it doesn’t.

Aug 14,2008

Adviser M Anwarul Iqbal has announced that trade union activity ( which was banned after the Emergency promulgation of January 2007)  will be  permitted to a limited level.

“The workers’ organisations will be able to hold elections after obtaining permission from their local police stations, after official approval has been announced to the public,” said the adviser.

Talk about a police state….what is interesting is that the same minister will talk about good governance, transparency and accountability in the presence of donors without even batting an eyelid.

As for the trade unions themselves, well I sincerely hope the last 20 months or so have provided then with ample time to reflect on the consequences of being so intimately aligned to one political party or the other. That is no basis for organising workers who have their own interests. But I seriously doubt our trade union leaders have the capacity to understand that.

Aug 8,2008

“We had an image as a strike-prone country. Buyers from all over the world used to worry a lot about whether our manufacturers could meet shipment deadlines,” Export Promotion Bureau chief Shahab Ullah told AFP.

“But the state of emergency brought much-needed stability as there have been hardly any strikes.”

Some stats from the same article:

  • The nation’s exports of knitted and woven items rose by nearly 17 percent to a record 10.7 billion dollars in the financial year to June 2008.
  • Exports leapt by 51 percent year-on-year in January and by more than 20 percent in the other months until the end of the financial year.