I had the rare honour of listening to and personally meeting Prof. Muhammad Younas, the Nobel Peace Laureate of 2006.
Prof. Younas is from Bangladesh. He is known for bringing light into the lives of millions of poor women across the world, and to begin with Bangladesh.
The Nobel Laureate is known as the Banker of the Poor, for his unique concept of starting Grameen Banks – to lend small amounts of money to poor women to start small businesses. This helped them to be free from the clutches of bigger sharks who would otherwise swallow in the name of exorbitant interest rates and (when their accumulated interests become un-payable) attaching properties.
‘Poor people need money; not rich. Rich already have. But if you lend money to the rich, what is the use?’ asks Prof. Younas. What is the use?
‘Banks say, poor don’t return money. I have lent money to the poor, and they have returned. To return, you need to first give. Banks don’t give, so the poor can’t return,’ Prof. Younas is very practical. Without lending, how can you expect it to be returned?
His success in Bangladesh soon spread to the world, too. Today Grameen Bank philosophy has been adopted by millions and millions of people across the world. But the Bangladesh Government doesn’t appreciate it!
The Nobel Laureate was in Bangalore on 09 February 2017. Tobby was kind enough to invite me. In the meantime, Manoj came to St Josephs College, and extended an invitation. That sounded good too.
I usually don’t like to pose for cameras or selfies. But it is worth being captured with a Nobel Laureate like Prof. Younas or Bharat Ratna Prof. CNR Rao, with whom I shared the dais in January.
Back in 1992-93, I had the privilege of personally meeting another Nobel Laureate and Bharat Ratna Mother Theresa, at Loyola College in Chennai. Later in 2007, ten years after her death, I spent a month in Howrah, Kolkata, with Mother Theresa’s MC Brothers, helping out in their people affected with leprosy . There, I visited her house in Kolkata, her first work in Kali Ghat (in Kolkata), Shishu Bhavan (babies house), her chapel, etc. Those moments are ever green in my mind. Now she is a Saint in the Catholic Church. It is not surprising that even non-Christians, agnostics, and atheists say that the Mother was a saint even before the Church declared her a saint; she was a living saint. And who can dispute that?
Such men (and women) have the power to make life meaningful. And I cherish those memories.