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People watch Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the nation, on television in Hyderabad, India, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016. (VOA)

Asserting that his crackdown against corruption will not end, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a series of financial incentives for poor people, farmers, small businesses, women and senior citizens.

Modi addressed Indians on New Year’s Eve, 50 days after he banned high denomination currency in a bid to root out illegal money. The measure led to huge paper money shortages among citizens that hurt poor people the hardest and caused widespread disruption in the informal sector.


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Defending his move to scrap 86 percent of the country’s currency overnight, he said, “Corruption, black money and counterfeit notes had become so rampant in India’s social fabric that even honest people were brought to their knees.”

Although many in the country initially supported the move, patience has worn thin in recent weeks as the government has not been able to meet the demand for new currency, resulting in snaking lines outside banks since the November 8 announcement.

Those lines are likely to continue into the New Year. Although the prime minister had asked for 50 days to restore normalcy, cash shortages have not eased and limits on the amount people can withdraw from banks remain in place.

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Modi sought to address some of those concerns, saying efforts would quickly be made to restore normalcy to the banking sector. He said the focus would be on rural and remote areas, which have suffered the most from the cash crunch.

Acknowledging that the ban had led to hardship, the prime minister said people had shown patience, discipline and resolve in helping the government tackle corruption.

Among the promises Modi made were a discount on interest rates for home loans in rural and urban areas for poor and middle class people, doubling credit guarantees for small businesses, steps to help pregnant women and senior citizens and financial support for farmers.

Observers said the incentives are meant to alleviate growing anger among millions of poor people.

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He promised tough action against the corrupt but promised to help law abiding citizens. “The law will take its own course with its full force, but the priority is how to help the honest and protect them.”

Modi also called on all political parties to come together and take steps to ensure transparency in political funding, which many say is one of the major factors that fuels corruption.

Modi swept to power in 2014 promising to end graft, and while the currency ban aims to do that, political analysts have called it a risky gamble.

They say whether the move establishes his credentials as a strong leader who is meeting his promise or whether it loses him goodwill will be tested in crucial elections to be held in Uttar Pradesh province early next year.

Many economists have questioned the benefits of the currency ban and warn that it will hurt the economy while not achieving its objective of ending tax evasion. Modi however asserted that there is no precedent globally to what India has done. (VOA)


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Photo by GOI.

New Education Policy 2020

On the first day of the two-day meeting of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders on Tuesday, discussions were held on important issues related to education and the National Education Policy-2020.

Apart from senior RSS leader Suresh Soni, representatives of various organisations associated with the Sangh Parivar -- working in the field of education -- were present in the meeting in New Delhi.

According to sources, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who attended the meeting on behalf of the government, shared information related to the National Education Policy-2020 and the government's policy on important issues related to the education sector. Pradhan also shared details of the efforts being made by the government in the field of education.

Discussions were also held regarding the impact of the situation arising out of Corona and how much it has affected the education sector.

In the meeting, the RSS leaders asked several questions and provided suggestions to the Union Minister regarding the education policy of the government.

According to the sources, RSS wants the policy to be implemented expeditiously. All aspects related to the policy were discussed in Tuesday's meeting.

On the second and the last day of the meeting on Wednesday, special issues related to education will be discussed in which representatives of various organisations of the Sangh, Union Ministers and several BJP leaders will be take part.

Meanwhile, in order to convey its point of view to the government on various issues, the Sangh keeps on calling such coordination meetings related to specific issues, in which RSS representatives -- working in that particular area -- provide feedback to the government. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: BJP, RSS, New Education Policy, Education, India


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