12:00 AM, November 10, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 10, 2012

Amartya refutes Muhith

Urges him to withdraw wrong attribution made to him

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Staff Correspondent


Nobel laureate Prof Amartya Sen has expressed surprise at Finance Minister AMA Muhith's comments that he made on Thursday attributing to him about Nobel laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus.
In a written reply to a query from The Daily Star, Sen hoped that Muhith would withdraw his wrong attribution to him about Yunus.
Quoting Sen Muhith on Thursday told reporter in Dhaka, "Professor Sen told me that so many good things are happening in this country but they are not highlighted anywhere in the world only because of Professor Yunus."
But Sen yesterday said: “I am particularly surprised -- indeed astonished -- to see his attributing to me a view that is not mine. Indeed, the alleged utterance is not close to anything I told Muhith when we met briefly at the VIP lounge in the Bangkok Airport last month.”
The India-born Bangalee economist added that he was not at all accusing Yunus of preventing the recognition and praise that Bangladesh deserves.
“Rather, I was pointing to the fact that the treatment of Yunus -- and its interpretation in the outside world -- have been strongly inhibiting factors working against the justified acclaim that Bangladesh's stellar achievements could otherwise be expected to get in the world,” Sen said in his emailed statement.
Prof Yunus, who is now in Austria for a global social business summit, when approached by The Daily Star, said he would not comment on the issue.
SEN'S FULL STATEMENT
I have known Mr Muhith for a long time and like him a lot (and I also think he is an excellent finance minister), and in view of all this, I am particularly surprised -- indeed astonished -- to see his attributing to me a view that is not mine. Indeed, the alleged utterance is not close to anything I told Muhith when we met briefly at the VIP lounge in the Bangkok Airport last month.
What I told him included the following:
1) Bangladesh has made extraordinary progress on economic and social matters at a very rapid pace in recent years -- a subject on which I have written in American and Indian newspapers and periodicals (I have also commented on the fact that Bangladesh has overtaken India in most of the standard indicators of living standards);
2) Prime Minister Hasina, whom I much admire, can certainly claim great credit for her leadership in the transformation of Bangladesh into a powerfully progressive modern society, and this does deserve hugely more global recognition;
3) The constructive roles of Bangladeshi NGOs, including the positive parts played by BRAC and Grameen Bank in the progress of Bangladesh, deserve emphatic recognition;
4) I am saddened by the fact that Bangladesh's achievements get far less acknowledgement and praise in the world media than they should get;
5) Among the principal factors behind this widespread global reluctance to say good things about Bangladesh's progress is a shared resentment by a large section of influential intellectuals across the world of the harsh official treatment of Dr Yunus in Bangladesh.
I was not at all accusing Yunus of preventing the recognition and praise that Bangladesh deserves (as Mr Muhith seems to be saying). Rather, I was pointing to the fact that the treatment of Yunus -- and its interpretation in the outside world -- have been strongly inhibiting factors working against the justified acclaim that Bangladesh's stellar achievements could otherwise be expected to get in the world.
I hope Mr Muhith will withdraw his wrong attribution to me, in the light of my reminding him of exactly what I told him.
WHAT MUHITH SAID ON THURSDAY
The finance minister claimed Amartya Sen viewed Prof Yunus as the single major reason behind Bangladesh's failure to project its positive image on the world stage.
Asked how an individual like Yunus could do so, Muhith told reporters in the capital: "He has wonderful publicity machinery."
The minister also questioned the honesty of Prof Yunus, whose microcredit model won him and Grameen Bank Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

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