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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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Prince Charles Arrives in New Delhi for two day Visit to Meet PM Narendra Modi

Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, accompanied by his wife arrived New Delhi for a two-day visit to India to complete their 10-day four-nation tour

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Prince Charles
Prince Charles visits India with his wife for two days. Wikimedia.

New Delhi, Nov 9: Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, accompanied by his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker-Bowles, arrived New Delhi on Wednesday on a two-day visit to India at the final leg of their 10-day four-nation tour that also took them to Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei.

“Their Royal Highnesses Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall arrive,” the British High Commission in India tweeted.

Prince Charles is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday evening and discuss a wide range of issues, including that of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which will take place in April 2018 in the UK.

Prince Charles
Prince Charles arrives in India with his wife. IANS.

Ahead of the royal couple’s arrival, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said climate change, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), economic cooperation, and other bilateral issues would also come up for discussion.

Bilateral trade between India and Britain stands at $12.19 billion. India is the third largest investor in Britain and the second largest international job creator in that country.

Britain is the third largest inward investor in India, with a cumulative equity investment of $24.37 billion for the period April 2000-June 2017

The Indian diaspora in UK is one of the largest ethnic minority communities in the country, with the 2011 census recording approximately 1.5 million people of Indian origin equating to almost 1.8 percent of the population and contributing 6 per cent of the country’s GDP.

This will be Prince Charles ‘s ninth visit to India. He had earlier visited India in 1975, 1980, 1991, 1992, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2013. (IANS)

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Demonetisation Anniversary: BJP acts cheeky, releases new video showing Frustration of ‘Corrupt’ Politicians following Demonetisation

The one-minute video, which is now going viral on social media, has already been re-tweeted more than 2 thousand times since it was released on November 7, on the eve of demonetization move.

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Screen grab of the sarcastic video released by BJP to mark Demonetisation Anniversary. Twitter

New Delhi, November 8, 2017 : On November 8 2016, every Indian citizen sat glued to their TV screens as Narendra Modi was set to make a big announcement. Outcome? The Indian Prime Minster shocked the entire nation with the introduction of Demonetisation, a move that was to change the very foundation of the cash-dependent Indian economy.

The much-debated move by Modi garnered the attention of several well-versed economists from the country and abroad, alike. While some people willingly welcomed the move, there were others who stood in staunch criticism.

As the move completes its first year, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is set to observe November 8 as ‘anti-black money day’ to celebrate Demonetisation anniversary in the country.

On the eve of the Demonetisation anniversary, the BJP released a cheeky video claiming to depict how ‘corrupt’ politicians have been criticizing the move, as the nation won following demonetisation.

WATCH BJP’S TONGUE-IN-CHEEK VIDEO

In the video, the BJP attempted to take a dig at corrupt politicians, who have been criticizing PM Modi’s Demonetisation move.

In the video, a woman, playing the character of a frustrated, corrupt politician can be seen going on a rant over PM Modi’s note ban initiative, which was aimed to combat black money, corruption, fake currency and terrorism.

The video ends with a voice-over saying demonetisation has not only brought out this frustration of corrupt citizens, but also black-money, claiming that almost 99 per cent cash which was previously lying hidden with people has now entered the banking system.

The one-minute video, which is now going viral on social media, has already been re-tweeted more than 2 thousand times since it was released on November 7, on the eve of demonetization move.

Ahead of the Demonetisation anniversary, the last few days have witnessed several leaders present their opinions on PM Modi’s demonetization move.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley called PM Modi’s note ban initiative a ‘watershed moment’ while Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways believes the move has pushed India towards a more transparent economy.

However, the move is being criticized by ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calling it ‘irresponsible’. The opposition maintains that PM Modi’s note ban initiative has caused reckless damage to the country and the Indian economy.

On Demonetisation anniversary, the BJP is set to observe November 8 as ‘anti-black money day’, while opposition leaders are set to observe the day as ‘black day’ in protest against the note ban initiative.

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Editorial Freedom Should be used Wisely in Public Interest says PM Narendra Modi to Media

Prime Minster Narendra Modi on Monday said that editorial freedom should be used in public interest and urged the newspapers to devote space to increase awareness about climate change

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PM Narendra Modi speaks about Editorial Freedom. Wikimedia

Chennai, Nov 6: Prime Minster Narendra Modi on Monday said that editorial freedom should be used in public interest and urged the newspapers to devote space to increase awareness about climate change.

Speaking at the 75th anniversary celebrations of Tamil newspaper Daily Thanthi at the Madras University Centenary Auditorium, Modi said lot of things happen around the world and the editors decide what is important to be published in their newspapers.

He said: “Editorial freedom should be used wisely and in public interest.”

Pointing out the natural calamities occurring around the world at regular intervals, PM Modi urged newspapers to allocate space to increase awareness about climate change.

Narendra Modi said the freedom to write does not in anyway reduce the importance to be accurate and correct, adding that though media outlets may be owned by the private sector, they serve a public purpose, have much social accountability and their conduct should be above board.

editorial freedom
Media must use editorial freedom with public interest, says PM Modi. Wikimedia.

He said technological advancement enables citizens to compare, discuss and analyse the credibility of news and the media should take extra caution to maintain its credibility.

According to him, reform in media can come from within and through introspection.

Observing most of the media discourse revolves around politics, Modi said the nation is made of over a billion people and the media should focus on the people and their achievements.

Citing the spread of mobile phones, Modi said citizen reporting is important in showcasing individual achievements and also helping in the aftermath of natural disasters.

PM Narendra Modi also released a souvenir.

Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister of State for Finance and Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami and his deputy O.Pannerselvam also participated in the function.

Paying encomiums to the founder of Daily Thanthi S.P. Adithanar and his son Sivanthi Adithan, Palaniswami said the daily would certainly see centenary celebrations.

Leaders of several political parties, law makers, industrialists, movie actors and diplomats attended the function.

Earlier on his arrival PM Modi was received by Purohit, Palaniswami and others at the airport.

From the airport Modi reached the INS Adyar naval base here in a helicopter.

At INS Adyar, Modi had a meeting with Palaniswami and discussed about the rain and relief situation in Chennai and neighbouring districts. (IANS)