Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founder of Grameen Bank, addressed students worldwide on the 26th of November at an hour-long virtual talk, “No Going Back”, highlighting the opportunity for positive change that the current global pandemic presents. The event was hosted by the Cambridge University Bangla Society, in collaboration with the Yunus Centre, and moderated by Azmaeen Zarif, the President of the Society. Attendees joined in from not only Cambridge, but also universities across the UK, Bangladesh,and the wider world.
The professor began by acknowledging the devastating impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on countless lives and livelihoods. Yunus has been vocal in the past about appealing for any potential vaccine to be made a global common goodfor all people to have access to, including those living in underprivileged countries. He thus thanked the society for their support of his ‘Vaccine for the Common Good Campaign’ and for their charity fundraising campaigns earlier in the year to support daily wagers in Bangladesh.
Wealth inequality, climate change, and unemployment were then underlined as manmade crises in the pre-COVID world that have resulted in human beings being “the most endangered species on the planet”. However, he argued that this unprecedented pandemic has given the international community a unique chance to redesign our global systemstowards a sustainable and prosperous future.
In order to move forward, Yunus holds that it is vital to move away from self-interest driven models of economics towards models that accommodate the principles of collective interest and social business. He concluded by emphasising the role that the younger generation has in bringing about this societal shift in perspective to then effect change.
Following his address, Professor Yunus graciously responded to questions from the live audience and offered his thoughts on several topics including the value of education, the impact of decision-making on an individual level with regards to ethical consumerism, and the role of technology in society. Over the course of the event, he inspired the audience and, in return, the Society thanked him for his unique and exceptional initiatives in international development, poverty alleviation, empowerment of women and overall for his leading role towards economic development for the masses with the goal of a peaceful and stable world. He also very kindly accepted their invitation for a formal in-person visit to Cambridge in the near-future when possible.
The Cambridge University Bangla Society is a student-run organisation with seven committee members: Azmaeen Zarif (President), Mahfuza Yasmin (Vice-President), Sayeed Ahmed (Treasurer), Emteaz Hassan (Secretary), Saihan Choudhury (Events Officer), Zaynab Ahmed (Access and Welfare Officer), and Sheamol Obeda (Publicity, Design, and Webmaster).