Skip to main content

Olympic Laurel awardee Prof Yunus sends out message of solidarity, peace, resilience

By Nava Thakuria* 

With Nobel peace laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus receiving the Olympic Laurel award at the opening ceremony of 32nd Games of the Olympiad Tokyo 2020, organized under the shadow of Covid-19 pandemic with no audience on the ground, his motherland in South Asia incorporated its name in the history of Olympics.
The athletes from Bangladesh may not have won a medal in the Olympics till date, but millions of Bangladeshis found a reason this time to celebrate when Prof Yunus appeared in the digital screen with the adorable trophy to become the second awardee, definitely first Asian, after Kenyan Olympian Kip Keino.
Billions of sports enthusiasts across the globe witnessed the moment when the creator of Grameen Bank of Bangladesh was honoured with the award virtually, as Prof Yunus did not visit Japan due to the pandemic, on the evening of on July 23, 2021 at the restricted opening ceremony of Tokyo Olympic Games.
“I am honoured and overwhelmed to receive this Olympic award, which is so special to me and my country,” said the economist turned revolutionary banker turned social entrepreneur who mentors the Yunus Centre, a global hub of social business, highlighting its mission to create sustainable social enterprises not just for profit, but to solve people's problems.
Speaking to this correspondent from Dhaka, the soft-spoken Bengali gentleman appreciated the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and wished a success to its mission to transform the world to a peaceful place for the entire human race through the sports.
Prof Yunus reiterated the pledge to create a world of three zeros comprising nil carbon emission, nil wealth concentration to end poverty and once for all, and nil unemployment by unleashing the power of entrepreneurship in everyone.
Initiated by the IOC to honour outstanding individuals for their achievements in education, culture, development and peace through sports, the Olympic Laurel is intended to honour awardees at the opening ceremony of each summer Olympics, where social changemaker Keino was honoured in 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
Bangladesh, a Muslim majority nation of over 170 million population, has never succeeded in the Olympic battles for medals. The country used to send their representatives to the summer editions of Olympic Games mostly with wildcard entries. In Tokyo, six athletes under the guidance of Bangladesh Olympic Association are participating in various disciplines.
The innovative Bangladeshi banker, who made small loans available to the poorest of the poor without any collateral, was selected for the honour for his extensive works in sport for development, including founding the Yunus Sports Hub, a global social business network that creates solutions through sport.
Prof Yunus reiterated the pledge to create a world of three zeros: nil carbon emission, nil wealth concentration and nil unemployment
Prof Yunus also collaborated with the IOC on several projects, including educational elements of the IOC young leader’s programme focusing on human development through peace and sport. He not only shares the wealth of knowledge with the Olympic community, but also helps athletes in their post-sport career development to become socially responsible entrepreneurs.
IOC President Thomas Bach commented that the recipient of numerous international awards for his ideas and endeavours including Nobel peace prize in 2006, Prof Yunus remains a great inspiration for all sharing the vision how sport can contribute to the UN’s sustainable development goals.
Born in 1940 to a middle-class businessman’s family in Chittagong of south Bangladesh, Prof Yunus studied in Chittagong and Dhaka and then reached Vanderbilt University with a Fulbright scholarship to pursue higher study on economics. He received his PhD in economics in 1969 and after some years teaching there the young Bangladeshi scholar returned to his country in 1972, just one year after Bangladesh was born.
“Sport brings all human strengths and emotions into play. That gives it enormous power,” said Prof Yunus, adding, the Olympic unites the entire world in peaceful competition, celebrating unity in diversity. “If we embrace a new social and environmental awareness, where the economy is not a mere science, but a tool to optimise the potentiality of individuals, he claimed ‘we can create a new world’.”
The octogenarian insisted, the novel corona virus has brought numerous challenges to various events including the extravaganza like Olympics, but it also fetches a huge opportunity for the human race. Now it is necessary to put an individual back at the centre and work together to rebuild tomorrow, stated the author of ‘Building Social Business’, looking not to the past but to the future.
While addressing the limited number of physical audiences with billions of television viewers around the world, the IOC President commented, “Today is a moment of hope. Yes, it is very different from what all of us had imagined. But let us cherish this moment.”
He added that selected athletes from 205 national Olympic committees and IOC refugee Olympic team arrived in Tokyo spreading the message of solidarity, peace and resilience to give everyone hope for the further journey.
--- 
*Senior journalist based in Guwahati

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.

Narmada Valley's fossil evidence: Ground for 'nationalists' to argue primates' India roots?

By Saurav Sarkar*  In December 1982, a geologist digging in India’s Central Narmada Valley found something he did not expect. Arun Sonakia, who at the time worked for the Geological Survey of India, unearthed a hominid fossil skullcap from the Pleistocene era. The discovery sent shockwaves through the field of paleoanthropology and put South Asia on the map of human prehistory. Some experts concluded that the skull likely belonged to a member of a predecessor species of ours, Homo heidelbergensis , or perhaps was a hybrid of homo species, while Sonakia himself suggested “ an affinity… to Homo erectus .”