Yunus Out at Grameen, Pakistan Buries Bhatti and India Suffers Another Corruption Scandal

Hard to keep up with the plethora of news that does the daily rounds? Never fear, Divanee is here! Allow us to recap what you missed this past week in politics and global issues. This week the focus is on Muhammad Yunus’ ouster from Grameen bank, the assassination of Pakistani minister Shahbaz Bhatti and the criticism of another Indian official faced with corruption charges.

Yunus Out at Grameen Bank

Muhammad Yunus. Photo by Nasir Ali Mamun

As some viewed the removal of Muhammad Yunus from Grameen Bank as a government smack down of his political ambitions, a Bangladeshi court upheld the decision Tuesday. The 70-year-old was ousted as the head of the microlending bank he founded for working past the legal retirement age of 60, with the court attesting that his continued work was illegal. Considering Yunus’ resonance with poor voters, if he attempted to build a political party, it could potentially threaten Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s position. “On the eve of Tuesday’s court ruling, Yunus said his dismissal had been staged by Hasina’s government as part of its drive to take over the bank,” according to Reuters. As Bangladesh dismantles Yunus’ appointment in Grameen Bank, critics attack microlending in other developing countries as well, including India. While Yunus says he does want to step down from Grameen at some time, he wants it to be of his own accord. Contrary to previous reports, Yunus has denied finances as the reason for his removal.

Two Months After Taseer, Another Pakistani Official Assassinated

Mourners surround and carry Shahbaz Bhatti's coffin. Photo courtesy of Dawn.com

Opposition to Pakistan’s contentious blasphemy law seems to have provoked another political assassination last week. On March 2, Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian serving in Pakistan’s cabinet, was shot while riding in an unprotected car in Islamabad. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Shifa Hospital in Pakistan. Some 2,000 mourners attended Bhatti’s funeral on Friday, where many called for “death for killers.” The two gunmen reportedly left behind leaflets calling Bhatti a “Christian infidel” and signed them “Taliban al-Qaeda Punjab.” Responding to 42-year-old Bhatti’s death, which followed Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassination by two months, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said, “I consider this day as a black day. All the minorities have lost a great leader. I assure you, we will try our utmost to bring the culprits to justice.”

India’s Anti-Corruption Head Resigns Amid Own Corruption Charges

India's former central vigilance commissioner, PJ Thomas. Photo courtesy of The Times of India

India’s Supreme Court ruled on March 3 that P.J. Thomas, central vigilance commissioner, was inappropriately appointed due to longstanding corruption charges. Accepting a “higher-priced contract for the import of palm oil decades ago” is the reason Thomas and and other Kerala officials are under investigation. The Supreme Court criticized the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for for considering this case before appointing Thomas in September. Thomas is the latest official in a string of conspicuous corruption scandals stemming from Singh’s government. While Singh struggles to deal with these misbehaving officials, he simultaneously shoulders the burden of presenting his country to the world as a rising power — a task made all the more difficult by credibility-eroding corruption scandals.

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