So who is to blame for the Yunus fiasco?
First place has to go to the Norwegians. They (NRK) made a documentary which set Bangladesh on fire and then at crucial moments, like for example the whitewash Norwegian investigation into Grameen and the disgraceful pronouncements of Erik Solheim (the aid minister) exonerating Grameen, NRK was totally absent from the debate. NRK did not chase Solheim despite having all the facts and figures at their finger tips. Solheim was duping the Norwegian tax payer and no one bothered to take him to task about it. When NRK finally did respond, it was in Norwegian and they did not supply an english translation. Bangladeshi journos were frantically emailing me to get a translation. The Solheim spin enabled Yunus and his supporters to go on the offensive and attack the documentary. So a totally needless own goal there by the scandinavian producers of the documentary.
Second it has to be the Norwegians again. A bunch of them sit together every now and then and give out this gong called a Nobel Prize. The process is entirely opaque. This prize has come to be seen as some kind of conferment which absolves you of everything. No matter what you have done, if you get one of these gongs, you are sorted …well almost. Thankfully, the High Court of Bangladesh did not take this into account - unlike so many pundits, bloggers and other defenders of Yunus whose only knowledge about this whole issue is that Yunus has a Nobel Prize and therefore ought not to be knocked off his pedestal and needs to be praised to the high heavens whatever he or his outfits do.
Third, for helping to sow much confusion about the reason for the entire debate, the finger has to be pointed at Hasina, the prime minister of Bangladesh. Why did she so flagrantly intervene - calling Yunus a “blood sucker” etc - when news first broke of the illegal transfer of funds to Grameen Kaylan? She should have had the common sense to keep out of it, and let the facts speak for themselves. She did not. She allowed confusion to reign as Yunus’ supporters went to town turning this serious issue of transparency and financial accountability into one about Hasina and jealousy.
Fourth, well it has to be the press, led by my friend and former proletarian champion Matiur Rahman of Prothom Alo. The poor seem not to be his priority anymore? Nor indeed are they the priority for the Daily Star which has served as the mouthpiece for Yunus.
Finally, one has to acknowledge the role of Yunus himself. Rather than go quietly having been caught , he assembled the most formidable array of foreign politicians, dodgy US ambassadors and senators and newspaper editors to spread the confusion. Talking of newspaper editors, he even got Dr Kamal Hossain’s son-in-law, David Bergman, a hack for the New Age, to be generally “economic with the truth.” Wil Yunus stop now? I doubt it. Has his grin been wiped off his face for good? I doubt that too but one can hope.
Gloating is not a dignified thing to do. Today, and in this particular case, I make an exception. Tom Heinemann’s documentary “Caught in Micro Debt” set off a chain events which resulted in a thorough evaluation of the operations of Grameen. And today the man who has headed it for decades has been sacked. For decades Yunus has been the darling of neoliberals with his market solution to poverty. His grinning face is everywhere. For decades his zillions of fawning supporters have twisted the truth and failed to see the limited creature that microcredit is. I hope today that grin has been wiped off his face. For sure he is fighting back and he has powerful friends both at home and abroad. But this is a day to savour. I shall say no more. I am privilleged to have been part of the documentary. So thanks Tom. And I thank my team in Bangladesh for this great result.