Micro-credit guru Muhammad Yunus has become the seventh person to have received the Nobel Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, says John Boehner, Speaker of the US House of Representatives.
Dr Yunus is the first Muslim and the first Bengali to
have received all these three awards.
Dr Yunus was presented the
Congressional Gold Medal on 17th April afternoon (local time) in a function at
the Capitol Rotunda.
This added a new chapter of glory to the history of
the Bengali-speaking peoples.
More than 100 Congressmen and Senators of
both houses were present at the function. They were joined by top functionaries
of the Obama administration and scores of others dealing in micro-credit and the
Speaker Boehner said that the Congressional Medal awarded
to Yunus had to be redesigned on the Nobel Laureate’s request to include an
inscription in Bengali on one side of the medal.
the Bengali inscription reads “We have send poverty to the museum”.
is a unique way of showing love and attachment for his mother tongue,” Boehner
Yunus received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his contribution
to the cause of global peace through his poverty alleviation efforts through
micro-credit. In 2009, he received the ‘Presidential Medal of Freedom’ from US
President Barack Obama. The year after, the US Senate and House of
Representatives passed a bill to award Yunus the Congressional Gold Medal for
‘his tireless efforts to serve the cause of humanity by poverty alleviation
efforts through micro-credit’.
Obama signed the bill immediately but the
delay in awarding Yunus the Congressional Medal was warranted by the change of
“This is not an individual achievement. This is an achievement
for the people of Bangladesh,” Yunus told bdnews24.com in an exclusive interview
after receiving the Congressional Medal. “The micro-credit model has received
global acceptance because people in Bangladesh gave it all-out
“I dedicated this honour to the 160 million
The award ceremony, that lasted 90 minutes, was attended
by micro-credit practitioners, human rights organisers, social workers,
journalists, academics, cultural personalities and expatriate
This is the first time that a Bangladeshi has been honoured
by both the Senate and the US House of Representatives.
began with a prayer to Almighty followed by honours in military style and the
The chaplain of the House of Representatives Reverend
Patrick Conroy administered the oath.
Congressman Rush Holt and
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lethinen were joined by Senators Michael Enzi and
Richard J Durbin in recounting Mohammed Yunus’ achievements in lifting 100
million people in 30 countries out of poverty through
Yunus’ unique achievements also drew praise from
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (leader of Democratic Party in House of
Representatives) Senator Mitch McConnel (leader of Republican Party in the
Senate), Senator Harry Reid (leader of Democratic Party in Senate) and House of
Representative’s Speaker John Boehner.
But none of them referred to the
Grameen Bank created by Muhammad Yunus – or to the controversy surrounding his
removal from it. Yunus also did not raise the issue during his speech after
receiving the honour.
The Nobel laureate recounted his US experience as a
student trying to mobilise support for the cause of Bangladesh’s independence
during the 1971 Liberation War.
“That was the beginning. Since then, I
have worked ceaselessly for the cause of humanity,” Yunus said.
refer to removal from the Grameen Bank during the luncheon hosted in his honour
at the House of Representatives. But he was far from being critical of the
“Those who are running the Grameen Bank after I was removed
are working in the right direction amidst much adversity. I wish them all the
His American daughter Monika Yunus sang the “Beautiful Dreamer’
at the ceremony , which was attended, among others, by the Yunus family ,
Grameen's US functionaries, UN under-secretary Amira Huq, Bangladesh ambassdor
to US Akramul Qader, former FBCI chief Abdul Awal Minto and New Jersey
councilman and Bangabandhu Parishad’s US chapter chief Dr Nur Nabi.