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PM Narendra Modi announces a series of Financial incentives for Poor people, Farmers, Small businesses, Women and Senior citizens

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

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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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Prime Minister Narendra Modi Meets Bollywood’s Delegates

While their past meetings drew ire for zero women representation, this time Alia, Ekta, Ashwiny and Bhumi lent the woman power.

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India, elections, vietnam, BJP
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses a gathering in New Delhi, India. VOA

A delegation of young Hindi film actors and filmmakers like Karan Johar, Rohit Shetty and Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari met Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on Thursday to discuss how the entertainment industry can contribute to nation building.

Karan, who was a part of past industry meetings with the PM, led the delegation which included names like Ekta Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Sidharth Malhotra, Ayushmann Khurrana, Rajkummar Rao, Vicky Kaushal and Bhumi Pednekar.

After the meeting, where the Bollywood squad clicked a group selfie with Modi, Karan wrote on Instagram: “Powerful and timely conversations can bring about change and this was one of what we hope will become a regular conversation. Meeting the Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi today was an incredible opportunity.

Bollywood, narendra modi
Modi meets Bollywood

“As a community, there is a huge interest to contribute to nation building. There is so much that we want to do. And can do and this dialogue was towards how and what ways we can do that. When the youngest country (in demography) joins hands with the largest movie industry in the world, we hope to be a force to reckon with. Together we would love to inspire and ignite positive changes to a transformative India.”

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Karan also thanked the government on behalf of the film industry for the GST reduction in movie ticket prices that was implemented recently. It was a result of the meetings held with the PM last year.

While their past meetings drew ire for zero women representation, this time Alia, Ekta, Ashwiny and Bhumi lent the woman power. (Bollywood Country)