Hillary Clinton passed through Bangladesh last weekend and publicly expressed her strong support for Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank. "I don’t want anything that would in any way undermine what has been a tremendous model." She also visited Yunus, whom she has known since 1986.
The powers in Bangladesh did not appreciate Hillary's contribution. Two top officials has gone after Clinton and Yunus, equally publicly. The rather less-famous finance minister who helped Yunus found the Grameen Bank, opined:
"I think this comment is very unwarranted," finance minister AMA Muhith told reporters.
"Grameen Bank is a government institution. The government has created it and brought it thus far. It is because of the government that Mr. Yunus could come this far."
Syed Ashraful Islam, general secretary of the ruling political party and Minister for Local Government and Rural Development & Co-operatives, attacked Yunus in the presence of his Prime Minister:
The country cannot be developed through multilevel marketing companies and NGOs based on illegal money from abroad. Microcredit won't change our fates and it won't be able to change Bangladesh in the next 100 years.
His basic subject was Economics. But he did not get the prize for Economics. He got the Nobel prize in Peace though he did not play any role in stopping a war.
Now, many people in our country know how to 'get a Nobel prize'.
If you think about it, this is a pretty stark spectacle. It is hard for me to imagine two members of Obama's cabinet attacking a single citizen in public, even ridiculing him in front of the President---much less one so highly celebrated. It's clear that governance in Bangladesh, not just politics, is war by other means. I hope that as regards the safety of Yunus and the Grameen Bank staff, and the integrity of the institution, the threat from the government is offset by the equally unusual endorsement from a powerful foreign official.