Coronavirus revealed weaknesses of society in very ugly way: Noble laureate Mohammed Yunus

New Delhi: Nobel laureate and founder of Grameen Bank Prof Muhammad Yunus on Friday said that the present financial system completely ignores people in the informal Sector like migrant labourers and daily wage workers which is why millions of them have been taking to the highway to go to their home states .
In a conversation with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi , the renowned economist and founder of the Grameen Bank, talked about limitations of adopting a western economic model and called for a new vision that leverages on the strength of our rural economy and the informal sector.
”Coronavirus has revealed the weaknesses of the society in a very ugly way you can see it now. The financial system is designed in a very wrong way. The poor people , migrant workers are in the city. We have people working for us, cooking food for us, security person. They are taking care of our children. We knew them. But suddenly we see millions of them on the highway trying to go home. Suddenly all the city migrant workers are coming out of the city in a big crowd and going out.
For a simple reason, they have nothing here, no life here, no money here to survive. So ultimate place they can go back to is their home. That is the saddest part that Coronavirus has revealed. So we have to recognise these people. Economics doesn’t recognise these people. They call it informal sector. Informal sector means we have nothing to do with them, they are not part of the economy. Economy begins with the formal sector, we are busy with formal sector,” Mohammed Yunus said.
Talking about limitations of adopting a western economic model, he said,” We followed the western way of doing things in the financial system, in the economic system. So we didn’t think about the vibrant capacity of the people, in countries like India, Bangladesh in the region. They have tremendous tenacity to do things and make things happen. Very creative way. That creativity has to be admired and supported. But government stayed away, it’s the informal sector, we have nothing to do.”
He called for a new vision that leverages on the strength of the rural economy and the informal sector.
”Rural economy has become an appendix to the urban economy. Why can’t we have the economy of the rural area built as a separate parallel economy, autonomous economy. Rather than have an appendix like that today,”he said.
The Nobel laureate said that the present system ignores the women in society.
”In the system, Women are the remotest of all. Looking at the structure, this is the lowest in the structure. They have no voice, nothing in the society, traditions make them completely separate.
They are the basic strength of the society. All the entrepreneurial ability, when micro credit came and went to the women, they showed how much entrepreneurial capacity they had. That’s why micro credit is known to the whole world and not just Bangladesh because they have shown their worth. They can fight, they have the skills, artisanal skills and all kinds of skills, beautiful skills. They are all forgotten because they all belong to what we call the ‘informal sector’,”he said.
Stressing the need to recognize people in the informal Sector, Mohammed Yunus said, ”If we can only finance them, we can take care of them, pay attention to them, they’ll be moving up the ladder. Because they have the basic ingredients and they know how to fight for their lives and how to make things happen. But we ignore them.”
Expressing agreement with Mohammed Yunus, Rahul said, ”this model is not an Indian model or a Bangladeshi model. This is a completely western model that we have adopted lock, stock and barrel. In fact we have aped this model and then have realized that this model is not all it seems. This model has serious problems.
This model has serious contradictions. It destroys the environment, it destroys societies? Mahatma Gandhi, 78 years ago , was saying that we need to think about the rural economy. We need to think about our traditional structures.”
Rahul has been holding conversations with several experts from various areas on the economic impact of Coronavirus.