The Cost of Greatness
It remains a stunning and disheartening fact that people are least honored by their own. We have seen this trend in every industry and in every country: Jimi Hendrix, one of the most brilliant guitar players of the 20th century, had to make it in Europe first before he was ever granted any attention in the US; Steve Jobs, one of the most excellent and creative minds in the IT world, was expelled from his brainchild Apple before he was invited back and transformed the company into a technological spectacle that is yet to be equaled; Nelson Mandela was accused of treason to get him out of the hair of a discriminatory system, and conveniently "stashed away" for 25 years, before he became the first Black leader in South Africa; and Martin Luther King and Mohandas Gandhi were thrown in jail numerous times because their non-violence based, fairness advocating efforts were rather inconvenient for those who preferred to keep the less-privileged less privileged.
Muhammad Yunus, Grameen Bank, and the Nobel Peace Prize
Those who thought that this embarrassing little trait was behind the comportment of our species, just got a rude wake-up call: the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Muhammad Yunus, recently got ousted from one of humanity's most generous efforts: his brainchild, Grameen Bank. This bank, which he founded in the seventies, after he returned to Bangladesh to lend a hand in the country's post-independence development, has emerged into an archetype for human awareness. Grameen Bank has become evidence of the fact that longitudinal global injustice can be changed with the unremitting efforts of just one man.
By starting Grameen, Yunus landed a painful, black-eye punch to all the conventional banks in the world, which refuse to give a loan to anyone who cannot prove that they don't need it. With his initiative Yunus proved what mother Teresa had always claimed: that poverty is a human-made problem. But he went one step further: he actually did something about it. He made the daring step from the safe haven of being an economics professor at a university to becoming the founder and director of this entity, which provided micro loans to millions of Bangladeshi women over the past three decades. Yet, he did not stop there. Encouraged by his success, he went on to collaborate with other global companies, and brought development and health to the poor, such as affordable cellphones, and nutritional yoghurt. A few years ago he engaged in a crusade throughout universities in the US, and possibly in other countries as well, to request scholarships for the first generation of college children from these ex-poor Bangladesh women.
A Source of Global Inspiration to Do the Right Thing
Yunus' work inspired thousands of new entrepreneurs to either follow his example in other parts of the world, or contemplate on other ways in which they could make a positive difference. He became the mantra of many a business professor who wanted to demonstrate that honorable, authentic, unselfish business leaders are not a myth, but an augmenting, real-life phenomenon. I have personally not let one single business course go by without exposing my business students to this miracle business performer, who defied an erroneous, subjugating mindset, and bring light into the lives of many downtrodden people. Yunus literally lived Mahatma Gandhi's most famous statements, "Be the change you want to see in the world."
Unfortunately, he has not been spared the fate of all other brave spirits before him: he is now being vilified by the Bangladesh government for a combination of reasons that have thus far not proven to make any sense. His age has been mentioned as a reason for him to step down. Yunus is 70, and the person who made this statement, the Bangladeshi Minister of Finance, is 77! Yunus has expressed no desire to stay on as the Director of Grameen, but requested to remain responsible until the transition to new leadership was completed. His request was rejected. Corruption is another factor that came up. However, there has yet any irregularity in Grameen's performance to be brought to light. The questionable investment issues that were brought up in the Danish documentary that turned out to be the instigator - but not the reason -- to this whole commotion, have since been verified and dismantled.