PTI Exclusive: See no reason for Grameen Bank operations in
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By Zafri Mudasser Nofil New Delhi, Nov 2 (PTI) Nobel Peace Prize-winning economist Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladesh-based champion of microfinance, says he sees no reason for his Grameen Bank to set up operations here as India has several successful microcredit organisations and many of these are modelled after the bank he founded.
He also says that he has been proposing to Indian policy makers to create a separate banking law to allow setting up of specialised banks for the poor.
"In the mean time I suggested (them) to give limited banking licence to successful MFIs (microfinance institutions) so that they can take deposits to become financially self- reliant, and expand their operation at a faster speed," he says.
"The Reserve Bank of India has issued licences to convert 10 leading MFIs into specialised banks. I see no reason for Grameen Bank to set up its own operation in India while the newly created microfinance banks are doing commendable jobs," Yunus told PTI in an interview.
He was responding to a question on whether there is any plan by his Grameen Bank to set up and expand its presence in India.
Yunus has come out with a new book "A World of Three Zeros: The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Net Carbon Emissions", published by Hachette India, in which he sets out a vision for a new economic system that tackles these three problems together.
The book is dedicated to highlighting the impending danger of exponential rise of wealth concentration globally and nationally, he says, adding it argues that wealth concentration is a ticking time bomb, it can explode politically and socially any time.
"We need to address that. The book presents four mega powers which can slow down, and even reverse, the process of wealth concentration. These are: power of youth, power of social business, power of technology, and power of good governance.
Not only can they reverse the flow of wealth from upwards to downwards, they can lay the foundation of a new civilisation based on human values, moving out of a civilisation based on greed," he says.
Besides being the founder of Grameen Bank and the father of microcredit, Yunus is also the creator of social business, which has had huge impact on the grass-roots economy across the Indian subcontinent and in emerging economies across the world.
He and his Grameen Bank were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006 "for their efforts to create economic and social development from below".
Asked how relevant microfinance is to India and Bangladesh today when there has been a huge expansion of commercial banking networks in remote rural areas, Yunus says it was born to point out the failure of conventional banking in reaching out to the bottom half of global population.
"As long as loan sharks, pawn shops, and informal lending exist, we know that banking system remains incomplete. It is not about how many people banking system has reached with their new initiatives, it is about how many people are left out from the system.
"As long as it leaves people unaddressed microfinance should be there to remind the banking system that this can be done, there is no room to relax with the sense of accomplishment," he says.
In Bangladesh, Grameen Bank and MFIs are still the prime institutions to address the financial need of millions of poor families in the country, he says, adding "We don't see any sign of commercial banks taking over these responsibilities." PTI ZMN RJS
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