Wednesday, June 20, 2007

3rd letter from Prof. Yunus

Dear citizens,
Regards to you all. I have written to you twice earlier. I wrote the first letter on February 11 seeking your opinions whether I should join politics. I wrote the second letter on February 22 declaring the decision to join politics and form a political party following your encouragements. I also told you that the probable name for the party would be 'Nagorik Shakti'. This time, in my third letter, I write to you to inform you that I have decided to stand aside my efforts to form a political party.Encouraged by your supports and motivated by the hope of creating a new political stream, I took the decision to join politics. By taking this decision, I was ready to put all my life's works behind me to enter a new life and I enthusiastically started the work to form a political party. As the first step in forming a party, I started the process of building a strong organising team. The plan was to introduce the team to everyone after the ban on indoor politics is withdrawn and move forward with the formation of the party. But, despite my all-out efforts I could not create a team that can boost my confidence. In the light of the experience I have gained from this process, I think, I will not be successful even if I wait for a longer period. So, I have taken the decision to stand aside by accepting the reality that it is correct not to go any further down the path.
A great sense of hope has prevailed in the country following the declaration of the state of emergency and the formation of a new caretaker government. New doors have been opened in the political arena. A new opportunity has been created to bury the hostile, divisive and conflict-centric politics by creating a political stream under the new leadership to take the country's economy forward. Everyone has understood that these opportunities do not come always. Everyone in this country feels that the impossible can be made possible through the innovations if good political will, competent leadership and good governance can be ensured.
I decided to join politics in this perspective. We had a single dream: to create a corruption-free political stream that is unified, consensual, empathetic, peaceful, secular, and committed to radical economic growth; a dream to turn the country into a self-assured nation by freeing the people from conflict, distrust and disappointment. We all know where we have to go. When we know the destination, we can try our best to reach -- I took my initiatives with this belief.
You have responded to my call by sending many letters, faxes, emails, and sms to support my initiative. You have given advices by sending letters to newspapers. You have also given your suggestions in newspaper post-editorials and television discussions. A number of you have informed me after you have formed preparatory teams in your areas. A number of expatriates have informed me after forming their committees. Young people both here and from overseas have voluntarily come forward to give their time and talent. I am grateful to all of you. I am extremely sorry to stand aside politics after giving you the hope. I have taken this decision early so that your further disappointment does not increase from my delay.
I dedicated all my strength towards forming a party. As part of the first step, I concentrated on forming an organisational team. I wanted to create it in such a way so that it creates confidence in people and it can generate massive political force even though it is a new party.
After I announced that I would form a party, people known or unknown to me, politicians, and people who aren't politicians but are interested in politics contacted me. I urged them to join the party. I also contacted people who did not contact me but whom I thought would strengthen the party with their presence. When I was on foreign trips, I daily contacted several people. The people who were working on my behalf towards forming a party also continued in maintaining contacts with them.
Through this communication process, one thing became clearer that those who were encouraging me will not join politics themselves and will not give public support because of their own problems. And those who are in political parties will not leave their parties, at least, now. They might join later if the political situation changes. After all calculations, I realised that nothing much is being accumulated. So, whom will I form the strong team with?
I went ahead with creating the party by not breaking my pledge not to veer from the components required to build a political party that is transparent, corruption-free and successful. I went forward with the approach that I thought would be best to establish a new political path. From working on this, it became increasingly clear to me that the people who I needed with me to present a strong and bright alternative to the people, will not be with me. Some of them are involved with political parties, some of them who are not in politics but are enthusiastic about it. They all want a new political path to be established and they are enthusiastic about changing the country's political culture. But, I could not bring them with me. Those who initially showed encouragement, I saw that they are becoming less and less encouraging.
That is when I started to question myself -- should I keep going or should I stall the process and wait? Or should I completely stop the initiative to form a party? I opposed the formation of a weak party. Instead of trying to create a new political arena with a weak party, let us wait for someone else to make the effort and succeed.
I am trying. Those who were with me from wherever they were are also trying. We are again presenting the need for a new political stream through our efforts. Now, someone else has to come forward to fill this void. I hope they become immensely successful.
This country is at the doorstep of great potential. The next five years are a very important period for us. This is the time of change. It is the time to make big political and economic decisions and implement those decisions. It is the time to make Bangladesh the hub for regional commerce and communication by taking advantage of our geo-strategic location by linking with regional transport systems and establishing the deep seaport. Our country is filled with the rich coal and gas reserves in a world thirsty for energy. It is the time to use these vast mineral resources for the country's development. It is the time to make Bangladesh the best country in using information technology. It is the time to build the country's human resources and make it resources for the nation and the world by establishing a global standard of education and training. It is the time to ensure that the remittance from non-resident Bangladeshis are used productively and link their skills and money to the country's development. It is the time to strengthen local government.
The time has come to shift the nation's economic and political gears. The nation's spirit is ready to graduate to far higher levels. What is needed now is the creation of a new political party and leadership who can properly and skilfully do this.
We should not fail in our duty to change the political and economic situation.
I express my deep and sincere gratitude and thanks to everyone who gave me their love and compassion despite my faults and limitations.

Muhammad Yunus
May 3, 2007

2nd Letter from Prof. Yunus

Dear Citizen,I am writing to you again. First, let me express my salam to you. I could never imagine that I would get such massive response from the letter I wrote to you on February 11, 2007.ACCEPT MY SINCERE THANKS AND GRATITUDEYou have encouraged my entry into politics with such logic and emotions that I could not help being astonished. I again felt the infinite blessings of Allah on me. From your replies, I have come to realise that how deep into your hearts you have let me in and you have put me in a position of great trust.
You have come forward and advised me with the desire to create a new politics for a new Bangladesh. A handful of young volunteers have been struggling to keep up with the incessant flow of mails, emails, fax and sms that you have sent to me after reading my letter in the newspapers. Your letters are continuing to flood in. The replies ranged from the people in remote villages of Bangladesh to the enthusiastic expatriates. I have received many valuable advices through your letters. I thank you from the depth of my heart. I express my gratitude to you. I also thank those who have asked me not to join politics out of their love for me. To them, I only have to say that only Allah can give us respect. If one wants respect, that person should earn it himself or herself. I want to go ahead with what I think is my duty. Overall, the message that you have clearly articulated to me, is that people from all walks of life want to go forward with me with a wish to bring widespread changes. I have no way to disappoint them.
I AM JOINING POLITICS WITH YOUR ADVICEIn light of your enthusiasm, I have decided to take part in your efforts for creating a new politics. I will join politics and establish a new party. Please pray, so that I can fulfill your wishes and so that Allah's blessings are with me, as always. The foundation of my new party will gradually build up through the same consultative process I have used to come to this decision.
I have received many proposals regarding the name of the party and have decided on proposing the name 'Nagorik Shakti' (Citizens' Power) to constantly remind the people of the creation of a new politics through unleashing the hidden power among all citizens. In short, we can use "Shakti" for promoting the party. We want to establish our beloved country among the frontline countries with the slogan "March ahead, Bangladesh." We want the central motto to be the pledge being echoed inside each proud citizen today: "We Can."
I have expressed on several occasions my ideas and opinions on the objectives and programmes the party requires to build a new Bangladesh. In this regard, I am enthusiastically trying to discern the hopes and desires of the nation. The messages that I have received from you recently, contained some questions, some opinions and some preferences on this matter. You wanted to know what would be my party's goal and purpose? I will outline the goals and purpose of the party later. The party itself will decide on it once it is formed.
Let me say which aspects would characterise 'Nagorik Shakti' as a political party. I have been saying these for years. The politics of this party would be to move towards the future by coalescing the people under a unified goal; not to go around in the circles of the past by creating divisions. The activists in the towns and villages would be in charge of the party's policy making. Those who break the law will not be allowed to become its leaders. All the nominations from the party for all elections, including national parliamentary elections, would be given by the local committee; and they will decide on the candidate by comprehensively considering their honestly and competency. To maintain public relations, it will follow alternatives to grand rallies. Women and the youth would be the lifeblood of this party, they would come to the leadership in huge numbers. This party will not judge everything from the party perspective; rather it will consult all other parties, non-political citizens, experts, expatriates and others. They will move forward together. Overall, this party would be the beacon of national unity and implementation of the nation's dreams.
OUR POLITICSOur politics would be the politics to materialise the dream of the liberation war. This politics would be a politics of unity, a politics of peace, a politics to establish honesty, a politics of labour, a politics to change the fate of the people as quickly as possible by reviving a new work ethics, a politics to send poverty to the museum. This politics will be non-communal, secular, democratic, good governance, free from corruption and against politicisation. It will be the politics of equity for women in all spheres, building the future of young generation and not to bow down to foreign power and to stand in the world holding the head high. I am urging all the citizens to come forward actively in support of this politics to make it a success.
IMPERATIVES FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN THIS POLITICSCome, let us start our work from this moment to establish these characteristics. Let our preparations begin by maintaining the existing provision of internal politics. Key areas of our activities at this moment will be our respective constituencies, villages and wards; take initiative to form, as many possible, 20-member 'Primary Preparatory Team'. If you are staying outside your area, try to visit your area and contact people to take the initiative. It is your task to do the work of the organisation in your area. It is also your task to select honest and competent candidates and make them win in national and local elections; others will not do it for you. And it is also your duty to contribute money and other resources for it according to your ability. Those who can afford, can set up preparatory offices and contact centres of 'Nagorik Shakti' with their own initiative and financing, if necessary at your shop or personal workplace or own house, and hang signboards and banners in this regard. It will be better if these are many in number in an area. Write name of the party and our declaration (March ahead, Bangladesh) in clear letters on them. Make arrangements as best as you can to receive phones, letters, faxes, emails from people, give information and receive people's opinion and let me know. Let the volunteers work here. Send us information and get recorded after forming a 'Primary Preparatory Team' or setting up preparatory offices and contact centres. Also encourage your friends to form preparatory teams. The success of 'Nagorik Shakti' will depend on your zeal and efforts. For the time being, begin your preparatory stage work on the basis of the draft outline as written below. The draft will be finalised after receiving opinion of all.
FORM PRIMARY PREPARATORY TEAMThose, who will be member of the party, set up one or more offices in each ward of the villages of Bangladesh. Form preparatory teams in each ward as many as possible. Each 'Primary Preparatory Team' will comprise of 20 members with one convenor. These will be formed on the basis of different groups. Innumerable such preparatory teams of same groups may be there in each ward or you alone can form several such teams. Make sure that the number of teams of women members is equal to those of the men. Special initiatives have to be taken to form teams of women. To form teams, the groups would be: 1. male students, 2. female students, 3. adolescent male workers, 4. adolescent female workers, 5. young male workers, 6. young female workers, 7. young male social workers, 8. young female social workers, 9. young male service-holders, 10. young female service-holders, 11. young male professionals, 12. young female professionals, 13. young housewives, 14. farmers, 15. workers, 16. professionals, 17. service-holders, 18. small entrepreneurs, 19. businessmen, 20. young male businessmen, 21. young female businessmen, 22. housewives, 23. elderly men, 24. elderly women. It is not mandatory that each of the groups will have to form team. If any group has small number of members they may form team after joining members of other groups.
Elect a group-convenor in a ward (mahalla in the cases of metro cities) from among the convenors of all the teams in the ward. The group-convenors will form a convenors team. One of the tasks of the convenors team is that it would form a 'Ward Preparatory Team' with honest, competent and enthusiastic people of the ward. It will be your collective task to bring in the right people in this regard. Electing at least one third from among women for the 'Ward Preparatory Team' and other teams at all levels is a must; but equal number of male and female members is desirable. Form Union or town or Metro-ward preparatory team with three elected members of each 'Ward Preparatory Team' or 'Mahalla Preparatory Team' in case of metro cities. With three elected members from each such team, form 'Constituency Preparatory Team'. The 'Constituency Preparatory Team' will play the key role in nominating the panel of honest and competent candidates for national and local elections and it, after getting approval at party selection at all levels of union/town/metro-ward, will later be sent to central committee. The district and national level teams can also be formed this way. By electing 'Constituency Team' at this moment quickly, we will have to begin the task of finding out honest and competent candidates for national and local elections. You yourselves will be able to turn these preparatory teams later into well-formed committees. After forming group-based 'Primary Preparatory Teams' as many as possible, you go forward to form preparatory teams at next levels. We will distribute detailed policy to all about the formation process of 'preparatory teams' at different levels to make things clear to all. I myself will begin the task of forming a general preparatory team with those among you who will be identified as more successful leaders among you and the experts.
The ward level team will have many duties. They will be responsible for local development and political organisation. Its key duty will be freeing the area from poverty. Key among its political duties will be to review continuously who will be eligible for contesting in the elections and for which post, and taking the responsibility of electoral task, to perform the task of nominating candidates.
THOSE WHO ARE WORKING OUTSIDE THEIR AREASThose, who are working in a distant workplace outside their village, take a week's leave and go to your village. Going there, form as many as possible Primary Preparatory Teams and come back. These processes will not start if you do not go there. Preparatory teams would form one after another as soon as you go there. Encourage union parishad chairmen and members to establish ward-level preparatory teams. Now there's no scope in criticising politics from your living rooms. Now is the time to overturn the political culture of the past. You are the sole creator of this change. If possible, take a long leave from work and go to your home. It is doubtful whether the chance to change politics would ever come again. Do not let it slip away with indolence. Your fate and the fate of future generations are in your hands.
SUPPORTERS GROUPSThose who cannot come within the organisational structure because of personal reasons, please establish Nagarik Shakti Supporters Group from wherever you are or join your local supporters group. Three to 20 people can join each supporters group, including members or non-members of the party. Let me know the creation of the supporters group and its future developments. Even friends who are located in different areas can establish a supporters group. You can create your supporters group through emails, telephones or even through a blog on the Internet. Contact others and encourage them to create supporters groups. This force is needed to enforce the required change.
Dear Expatriate brothers and sistersI am especially thankful to you. I have received a huge number of emails and telephone calls from you. You have expressed your trust in me. You have clearly stated your interest in bringing change to the country's political arena. Now is the time to start work. Create supporters groups in the countries of residence. Establish its offices at your workplace or your home. Build up communication centres. Effectively use the modes of communication, discussion and disseminating information available through the Internet. Take steps to create supporters groups in your own village or your town back in Bangladesh. If possible, visit the country for a week or two. Go to your locality and create supporters groups. Ensure financial assistance for them. Identify and then talk to honest and competent candidates and then encourage them to join Nagorik Shakti. Constantly maintain contact with us and describe your activities. Give us your advice at every step. If possible, take leave from work or your business to come back during elections. This is your chance to earn the honour of establishing a new politics in the country with your own hands.
Dear YouthYou are the greatest strength of this country. You will establish a respectful future for this country. You surely want widespread changes in the political arena, then you must come forward with innovation and enthusiasm. You will have to build up organisations across the country. You must create effective and proactive support by establishing Nagorik Shakti Supporters Groups in schools, colleges and universities. You must echo the clarion call of "March ahead, Bangladesh."
Call to the women of the countryHalf of the country's people are women. But, your role in the decision-making process is ignored. You have to come forward in publicising the new identity of Bangladesh. You can become a very powerful force in the materialising the dream of a new country. Gather your relatives and friends. Build up Nagorik Shakti Supporters Group. Everyone from Rural women to urban women, teachers, doctors, nurses, and students, all have to come forward. Now is the time to shed your dilemmas, fears, anxieties, and divisions to march forward in resolute steps. Come forward to ensure this beautiful nation becomes a country of peace.
You are the Citizens PowerI will be very happy if preparatory teams are set up in each locality. Those who have and will express such, I will understand that they have come forward to implement the dream of creating a new politics with their own labour, money and assets. You are the citizens' power. I want to work with you. I strongly believe that many others would follow in your footsteps. The challenge ahead of you is big, and time is short. But you cannot forget that citizens' power is a very powerful force. All of you have a strong belief in your heart "I can." We want to awaken the entire nation with the declaration "March ahead, Bangladesh." The merciful Allah will help us.
I am extremely sorry that I could not reply to your messages separately. I will certainly try to do so. But you must continue your communication with me. Your letters are shining the light on the path ahead. Please do not take this light away.
My address, fax number, phone numbers etc will remain unchanged. I am again providing them below. Others have expressed interest in volunteering on conveying your messages to me and vice versa. I will create more opportunities for them. Those who want to assist me in whichever way, please let me know in writing. I urgently need you. Otherwise, arrange the conveyance of people's messages to me by creating preparatory offices and communication centres in your own areas. I am waiting for your progress reports, advice and opinions.
Thank you and greetings

Muhammad Yunus
February 22, 2007