Muhammad Yunus

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Syed Aslam

imgresMuhammad Yunus was born in 28 June of 1940 in the village of Bathua, near Chittagong,  what was then Eastern Bengal.  He studied at Dhaka University, East Pakistan now Bangladesh, and graduated with MA degree in economics.  He qualified for  Fulbright scholarship to study economics at Vanderbilt University and received his Ph.D. in economics  in 1969. The following year he became an assistant professor of economics at Middle Tennessee State University. Returning to Bangladesh in 1972 Dr.Yunus headed the economics department at Chittagong University.

His father was a successful goldsmith who always encouraged his sons to seek higher education. But his biggest influence was his mother,  who always helped any poor that knocked on their door. This inspired him to commit himself to eradication of poverty. In 1974, Professor Muhammad Yunus,  led his students on a field trip to a poor village. They interviewed a woman who made bamboo basket, and found out that she had to borrow the equivalent of 10 cent to buy raw bamboo for each basket made. After repaying the middleman, sometimes at rates as high as 10% a week, she was left with a few cent in profit. Had she been able to borrow at lower rates, she would have been able to make some money and raise herself above subsistence level.

Dr.Yunus took matters into his own hands, and from his own pocket lent  money equivalent $27 to  basket-weavers. He found that it was possible with this tiny amount not only to help them survive, but also to create the spark of personal initiative and enterprise necessary to pull themselves out of poverty.

Against the advice of banks and government, Yunus carried on giving out micro-loans, and in 1983 formed the Grameen Bank, meaning village bank founded on principles of trust and solidarity. In Bangladesh today, Grameen Bank has 2,564 branches, with 19,800 staff serving 8.29 million borrowers in 81,367 villages. On any working day Grameen Bank collects an average of $1.5 million in weekly installments. Of the borrowers, 97% are women and over 97% of the loans are paid back, a recovery rate higher than any other banking system. Grameen methods are applied in projects in 58 countries, including the US, Canada and France.

Muhammad Yunus has shown himself to be a leader who has managed to translate visions into practical action for the benefit of millions of people, not only in Bangladesh, but also in many other countries. Loans to poor people without any financial security was an impossible idea. From modest beginnings three decades ago, Yunus has, first and foremost through Grameen Bank, developed micro-credit into an ever more important instrument in the struggle against poverty.

Dr. Muhammad Yunus was the first Bangladeshi to  get a Nobel Prize in 2006. After receiving the news of the award, Yunus announced that he would use part of his share of the $1.4 million award money to create a company to make low-cost, high-nutrition food for the poor; while the rest would go toward setting up an eye hospital for the poor in Bangladesh. He has earned many prestigious awards.

Aslamsyed1@yahoo.com

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20th Century Muslim Scientists — Sameera Moussa

May 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Syed Aslam

220px-SameeraMoussaSameera Moussa was born on March 3, 1917 in Egypt. She was an outstanding Egyptian scientist. In 1939 she graduated from Cairo University with Bachelor of Science degree   in radiology .  She was appointed first as a demonstrator but because of her ability she became  Assistant Professor at the university, she was first woman to hold an  university post in those days. Sameera Moussa completed  her PhD  degree in England on atomic radiation. Being the first women to obtain a Ph.D. degree in atomic radiation, she earnestly sought to make nuclear treatment available for every one. During her  visit to America on Fulbright scholarship  she was invited to visit a place of interest in  August of 1952. On her way to  the place she was going she had car accident.  The car fell down  40 feet down hill which killed her immediately. The  accident was a mystery because the body of the driver could not be found at the place of  accident.  It is believed that   driver  jumped from the car just before it went down. The mysterious death of Sameera  led  people to believe that it was a planned assassination, most probably  the Israeli Mossad.

Here in England while she was pursuing  her studies she devoted her time and efforts to learn more about  the  peaceful use of  radioactive atom in combating cancer, especially when her mother went through a fierce battle against cancer. Throughout her intensive research, she came up with a historic equation that would help break the atoms of common  metals such as copper.

With an overwhelming drive to impart her knowledge to those who crave for it, she sponsored  an international conference under the banner “Atom for Peace” where many scientific figures were invited. The conference made a number of recommendations for setting up a committee for the protection against the nuclear bomb hazards in which she was an active member.

Sameera Moussa received  the Fulbright scholarship in  Atomic Radiation Program and came to  University of California at Barkley where she did some significant work in her field  . In recognition of her outstanding work and deep knowledge  she was allowed to visit the US secret atomic facilities. The visit raised vehement debate in US academic and scientific circles as Sameera was the first non US citizen  to have access to such facilities.

She  was offered the opportunity to receive Green Card so she could stay here in USA but she  turned down the offer and preferred to return home to pursue her dream of harnessing atomic power for peace and the welfare of all humanity. But her life was cut short by the planed accident otherwise  she could done a lot of work in her field of research. The Egyptian government have dedicated her name to the Atomic Department of the National Research. Her library has been donated to the university which have her own writings on Madame Curie, human struggle and other themes. 

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