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India Moves to Ease Currency Shortage in Rural Areas amid PM Narendra Modi’s Demonetization Move

Cleaning up the system and getting rid of tax evasion will bring long-term benefits

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FILE - A private money trader counts Indian rupee currency notes at a shop in Mumbai, India. (Representational image). VOA

As India grapples with massive cash shortages, the government has announced a series of measures to improve the supply of new currency to the vast rural areas that have been worst hit since high value currency bills were scrapped earlier this month.

Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said on Wednesday that the large countrywide network of post offices would be used to distribute money. “The new denomination notes… have been made available in 155,000 post offices across the country to disburse cash, specially to rural people.”

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The government also said farm cooperatives would provide more than $3 billion in credit to farmers to buy seeds and fertilizer for the winter crop.

There has been mounting hardship in villages, where people hold virtually all their savings in cash. Worries are also growing that food production could be hurt due to delays in planting crops such as wheat.

Indian lawmakers from opposition parties hold placards in the parliament premises during a protest against the government demonetizing high-value bills in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016. VOA
Indian lawmakers from opposition parties hold placards in the parliament premises during a protest against the government demonetizing high-value bills in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016. VOA

Cash has been in short supply since 85 percent of the country’s currency went out of circulation in a matter of hours when high denomination bills of about $7.50 and $15 were scrapped on November 8. The move aims to bring billions of dollars of unaccounted wealth into the mainstream economy, stamping out tax evasion and curbing corruption.

The brunt of the cash crunch has been borne by rural areas, where two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people live, but where the network of banks is poor, making it a challenge to get new currency bills.

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Many villagers have been trekking long distances and waiting in serpentine lines in neighboring areas to exchange their cash for new bills, sometimes to find that new notes run out before their turn comes.

The worst affected are those at the bottom of the rural economy – daily wage workers. Demand for farm labor has fallen as the planting season slows down and even well-off farmers say they do not have enough currency to pay salaries or conduct transactions in the market.

A farmer in Haryana state’s Karnal district, Ishwar Dayal, says although he is allowed to exchange roughly $500 in a week from the bank, that amount is difficult to come by as banks run out of currency. That is hampering his operations. “Our rotation in the village depends completely on cash transactions. Whoever we have to deal with, they have no checks, no check books; they only have trust in taking or giving cash,” he said.

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Facing a barrage of criticism for poor preparation and implementation of the massive task of replacing 23 billion old notes, the government has said it could not have printed new bills in advance for fear of the move becoming public.

And as the countrywide scramble for new bills continues, political opposition to the action has been mounting. On Wednesday, more than 200 opposition lawmakers protested outside parliament. A top leader of the opposition Congress Party, Rahul Gandhi, criticized it as the “world’s biggest impromptu financial experiment,” saying it had caused hardship to a billion people.

The government says cleaning up the system and getting rid of tax evasion will bring long-term benefits and more revenues to spend on the welfare of poor people. (VOA)

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Modi Congratulates Japanese PM Shinzo Abe for Projected Election Win

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Prime Minister Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a speech. IANS

New Delhi, October 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday congratulated Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after a predicted landslide win in Sunday’s snap general election.

“Heartiest greetings to my dear friend Shinzo Abe on his big election win. Look forward to further strengthen India-Japan relations with him,” Modi tweeted.

Modi’s remarks came after an exit poll by public broadcaster NHK forecast a decisive win for Abe’s coalition, saying his conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) would take 253 to 300 of Parliament’s 465 seats.

The election for the 465 seats was held on Sunday. The official result is expected later on Monday.(IANS)

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Prime Minister Greets Nation on Valmiki Jayanti

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PM Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modii. IANS

New Delhi, Oct 5: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday greeted the nation on the occasion of Valmiki Jayanti.

“Greetings on Valmiki Jayanti. A great sage and master litterateur, his rich ideals and works guide generations…,” Modi tweeted on the birth anniversary of Sanskrit poet Maharishi Valmiki.

Valmiki is the author of the epic Ramayana. The original texts written by the sage consists of 24,000 shlokas and seven cantos (kandas) including Uttara Kanda. (IANS)

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Prostate cancer, the second most common cause of cancer rises in rural India, according to experts

The rural masses need to be made aware of the treatment, drugs and technologies to combat the disease

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Prostate cancer
Sarcomatoid prostate carcinoma, abbreviated SPC. Wikimedia
  • Prostate cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer deaths among men worldwide
  • Experts claim, that the second most common cause of cancer, is rising in rural India 
  • The rural masses need to be made aware of the treatment, drugs and technologies to combat the disease.

New Delhi, September 22, 2017: Prostate cancer, the second most common cause of cancer and the sixth leading cause of cancer deaths among men worldwide, is rising in rural India, experts claim.

Cancer projection data shows that the number of cases will be doubled by 2020.

“Most of the metastatic prostate cancer cases are from rural areas. Therefore, it’s a challenge to government and doctors to decrease the risk factors and take prostate cancer risk in the rural areas very seriously,” P.N. Dogra, Professor and Head of Urology at AIIMS, said in a statement on Thursday.

The rural masses need to be made aware of the treatment, drugs and technologies to combat the disease.

“There is an urgent need to create awareness about prostate cancer threat amongst the rural population,” said Anup Kumar, Head (Department of Urology and Renal Transplant) at Safdarjung Hospital.

Also read: Abdominal fat drives cancer in postmenopausal women: Study

Safdarjung Hospital sees more than one lakh patients every month from all over the country.

Of these, 20 per cent are prostate cancer patients, in which 40 per cent are clinically localised, 30 per cent are locally advanced and 30 per cent are metastatic prostate cancer cases, Kumar said.

“Prostate cancer has become a major health problem globally during the last few decades. This disease is the second most common cause of cancer and the sixth leading cause of cancer death among men worldwide,” Dogra said.

According to the Population Based Cancer Registries in Delhi, the disease is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer among men in the national capital, accounting for about 6.78 per cent of all malignancies. (IANS)