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Review of 'Poverty alleviation: Is Economics any help?' – Muhammad Yunus By Miha Alam

The article poverty alleviation: Is economics any help? Lessons from the Grameen Bank written by Muhammad Yunus, is an article about the ideology that approach to poverty reduction at micro-level is inadequate. Muhammad Yunus specifically talks about Bangladesh as a case study and explains how its economy progressed as the poorest of the poorest of the poor were specifically targeted. He explains, "poverty is caused by inadequate understanding of human capabilities" and that "abject poverty is a creation of mankind, not of nature. (Yunus, 48). He also believes in that fact that "economists" need to tackle the issue from a different lens because the traditional economic theories say that unemployment existed not because of poverty but because of lack of skills/education and more importantly lack of demand. However, when Yunus was doing his study, he found out that economics hinders poverty alleviation and that micro crediting and focusing just on the POOR people, could bring a lot of change.

The article basically outlines the personal study and changes Yunus brought about to alleviate poverty and how the economics limits people from properly understanding the causes of poverty and how it can be alleviated. Yunus specifically mentions that the economists nowadays ignore the subject of poverty because they think that credit is a neutral tool, entrepreneurs are a small group and that capitalism is only reliant upon profit.

Yunus went to Bangladesh, which was a happy nation after independence. However, he soon realized that Bangladesh's economy was deteriorating due to economic mismanagement and corruption which is when he opened his own bank called Grameen Bank, where he lended capital to poor villagers (including woman) who lived in Jobra so that they could have start up money and could make profit.

This reading was really effective in the sense that it was able to communicate the main message without having to use complicated economic theories and complicated economic jargon. The author was to the point. The essay was overall really easy to follow. The test type was in such a way that it was really easy to follow the article. For instance, Yunus explicitly wrote the objective of the essay, and the points he was going to elaborate on. He also used subheadings to focus the reader as well. Furthermore, I liked the personal touch Yunus put into this article. I enjoyed how chronologically this article was written. The author told us his first impressions of Bangladesh and Jobra. He also talked about how he helped the bamboo weaver and how he opened his own bank.

However, there are some arguments which Yunus makes, which are not always backed up and derived from generalizations. Yunus clearly writes "solving one problem would be most effective because it was grounded in reality" (49, Yunus). Yunus does not back up this point. He doesn't mention what thought process he went through in order to arrive to such a conclusion. I personally believe that focusing and solving one particular problem at a time is effective because a lot of problems (economic, social, political) are inter-twined and inter-connected. Hence, solving one problem would curb another due to the cause and relationship between problems. Moreover, Yunus is contradicting himself by blaming the economists for not being able to alleviate poverty because they have been using the traditional economic theories. In the beginning he mentions how the "economists" make a sweeping generalization by putting all the poor class statuses in the same category. He believes that the "poor" class should be further broken down into the poorest of the poor, extremely poor, marginally poor etc.