Bangladeshi Nobel peace laureate wants Burma in SAARC
Posted on July 29th, 2014

 By NJ Thakuria Guwahati:

The emerging democracy after decades of military dictatorship in southeast Asia, an unusual well wisher emerged with Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, who advocates for Burma’s entry into the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

The first and only Nobel awardee from Bangladesh, who created the world famous financial institution called Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, proposes Burma (now known as Myanmar) to get inside SAARC that comprises seven member-countries namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Pakistan.

During a recent meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, also a Nobel laureate at her residence in Rangoon, Professor Yunus revealed about it. The legendary economist, who is presently preaching about social business across the globe also urged the National League of Democracy (NLD) chief to support his agenda on Burma’s entry into the SAARC.

Adjacent to Bangladesh and northeast India, Burma is a member of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), a political and economic organisation comprising ten countries located in Southeast Asia. Once the rice bowl of Asia, Burma is closely associated with India and Bangladesh since the pre-historic era.

During the freedom movement, Burma’s generous populace played an important role in favour of millions of Indian freedom fighters. Popularly known as the banker to the poor, Professor Yunus went to Burma recently with the invitation of the British Council in Myanmar to speak to the members of the government, civil society and business community about the potential of social business and the role of business in the country’s development.

His Burma visit started with a 30 minute one-on-one discussions with Ms Suu Kyi on various socio-economic issues. In fact, it was the first ever meeting between the two Nobel peace laureates from two neighboring Asian countries. Professor Yunus apprised Ms Suu Kyi about social business programs in Bangladesh including microcredit, health care, education & vocational training, renewable energy social businesses as well as equity investment for the development of enterprises by the unemployed youths of Grameen bank families.

Professor Yunus thanked Ms Suu Kyi for her support to Grameen microcredit replication program set up by the Grameen Trust at Myanmar’s delta zone in 1997, which is now operated by PACT, an international NGO, and is the largest microcredit program serving 700,000 clients in Burma currently, said a statement issued by the Dhaka based Yunus Centre.

The pro-democracy Burmese icon, now a member of Burma Parliament appreciated the pro-poor initiatives of Professor Yunus around the world. The daughter of Burmese independence war hero General Aung San also briefed Professor Yunus about the work she has been doing in her constituency to bring development to the rural communities.

Both the Nobel awardees emphasized on resolving the outstanding issues related to Bangladesh and Burma for close collaboration between the two developing countries. Professor Yunus also invited Ms Suu Kyi for visiting Bangladesh social businesses, on which she responded positively.

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