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The Change and The kings of the poor
( Motivational article )

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More Articles By Hemanth Bhaskaran


By Hemanth Bhasakaran: I have a dream , said Martin Luther King, the king of the poor, the human rights icon, and the Nobel prize winner.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, he said.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

This world famous speech changed United States of America. Martin Luther King is a well known, inspiring man, to all cultures of the world. King was and still is one of the most influential heroes. King's views and beliefs, which were similar to the non-violent ideas of Gandhi, helped African Americans through the 50's and 60's obtain the rights and liberties that was their birth right. King faced many obstacles on his quest like jail and even assassination attempts. Despite these obstacles, he became a successful leader during the Civil Rights Movement, and even after his death, by guiding African Americans in a non-violent and positive direction for the fight to secure rights and equality.

The dream of Martin Luther King became a reality when Barack Obama became the President of United States.

Through words he gave voice to the voiceless. Through deeds he gave courage to the faint of heart. By dint of vision, and determination, and most of all faith in the redeeming power of love, he endured the humiliation of arrest, the loneliness of a prison cell, the constant threats to his life, until he finally inspired a nation to transform itself, and begin to live up to the meaning of its creed.

Like Moses before him, he would never live to see the Promised Land. But from the mountain top, he pointed the way for us - a land no longer torn asunder with racial hatred and ethnic strife, a land that measured itself by how it treats the least of these, a land in which strength is defined not simply by the capacity to wage war but by the determination to forge peace - a land in which all of God's children might come together in a spirit of brotherhood.

Change can be a feared, uncomfortable state, yet must be imposed upon life in order for living to continue. With change can come negative aspects such as failure, regret or sorrow, but more so positive aspects, including triumph, optimism and independence.

This photo is of another normal person who changed the lives of millions.

His name is Mohammed Younis, who was a Economics Professor at Chittagong college of South Bangladesh. In the year 1974, Bangladesh witnessed a terrible famine in which thousands were starved to death.

The Government tried to ignore it,. “But then skeleton-like people began showing up in the capital, Dhaka. Soon the trickle became a flood. Hungry people were everywhere. Often they sat so still that one could not be sure whether they were alive or dead. They all looked alike: men, women, children. Old people looked like children, and children looked like old people. Ashamed of not being able to do anything by teaching economics.

Even before the great famine, less than 40 % of the inhabitants of Bangladesh can satisfy their most basic nutritional needs. The population density exceeds 830 habitants per square kilometer and many families live in the streets, barefooted, without clean water, or a roof to protect themselves.

Realizing that there must be something terribly wrong with the economics he was teaching, Yunus took matters into his own hands. He led his students on a field trip to a poor village and on that day lent from his own pocket the equivalent of £ 17 to 42 basket-weavers.

He found that this tiny amount not only can help them survive, but can also to create the spark of personal initiative necessary to pull these peasants out of hardship. He believed that people were poor not because they did not want to work, but they were poor because they lacked resources. The real problem was the absence of credit. Shunned by commercial banks, these poor peasants could only turn to loan sharks.

The Idea
He decided to channel bank loans through wealthier middleman like himself. What he did was to borrow money from these banks under his name and lend this money to the poor. He was taking the risk that normal banks would not.

At the same time, he acted as a guarantor for loans to impoverished village-dwellers, mostly women, who responded with a surprisingly high repayment rate. Encouraged, but eventually tired of going to banks after banks, Yunus decided to start his own. The sole purpose? To loan money to the “poorest of poor”.

In 1983 he opened Grameen Bank, an institution founded on the principles of trust. The prerequisite to qualify for a loan were impoverishment and the desire to work hard. Even when the average loan size was $60, in a period of few years, Muhamad Yunus had delivered more hope to crisis-ridden Bangladesh than anyone before him. By helping these peasants with a tiny sum of loan and necessary skills, he showed them how to help themselves.

Critics were quick to say that his model bank would never work. “Poor people aren’t smart enough to start business,” said the critics. Others believed that small banks like Grameen don’t amount to much and the peasants should be trained for employment instead of risking their capital on business.

Muhamad Yunus’s Grameen Bank eventually put all his critics to shame. The rate of repayment nears 99.5 %, making it the envy of most mainstream banks. 95 % of the loans are repaid on time and the borrowers have saved more than 100 million, all of it on deposit at Grameen bank. A study done by a university in Malaysia showed that half of the borrowers freed themselves from poverty.

Not only that, Grameen is perhaps the only bank in the world that encourages birth control, sanitation and a hygienic environment as part of its lending policy.

And for the first time in the country’s history, poor, illiterate women of Bangladesh are using what rich business owners everywhere have always used to get richer; easy capital, and money to start or nurture their businesses.

Why Women?
When Yunus was asked why he lends money to women instead of to men, he said, “the women who live in misery adapt better and quicker to the process of self-help than men do. Similarly, they are more attentive, and they aim to ensure their children’s future with more efficiency, and women demonstrate better perseverance in their work. When it is managed by a woman, the money is better is utilized to benefit the family than if it was managed by a man.”

Women, it turned out, were the most reliable small-loan borrowers. Not only they repay their loans, they also clothe, educate and feed their children with their profits. Most men don’t.

International Recognition
The World Bank recently acknowledged that “this business approach to the alleviation of poverty has allowed millions of individuals to work their way out of poverty with dignity”.

In the year 2006, Professor Younis was awarded the Nobel peace prize for this contributions to the society.

Set your goals, & don’t be discouraged when you face a roadblock.No one is an overnight success. Goals & patience can turn dreams into reality.

More Articles By Hemanth Bhaskaran

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