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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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Burn Modi’s effigy, But do not Burn Public Property: PM Narendra Modi

Hate Modi but don't burn public properties, says PM Narendra Modi

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Narendra Modi
In his speech, PM Narendra Modi said that people should not burn public property. Wikimedia Commons

In a sharp response to the violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during his speech at Ramlila ground on Sunday: “Burn Modi’s effigy, but do not burn public property”.

“Hate me if you want to, but don’t hate India. Burn my effigy, but don’t burn a poor man’s auto-rickshaw,” Modi said during his over-an-hour-long speech.

Modi began his speech with a a new slogan: “Vividhta me ekta, Bharat ki visheshta (unity in diversity is India’s essence) to the cheering crowds.

He blamed political propaganda that triggered arson and burning of public properties.

Modi said his government provided land ownership to 40 lakh people of 1,731 unauthorised colonies in Delhi. He said over 1,700 colonies have been demarcated and added that the maps for 1,200 colonies are ready.

PM Modi
PM Modi warned the public saying, ” Hate me if you want to but don’t hate India.”. Wikimedia Commons

Attacking the so-called urban naxals, the PM said they were spreading rumours that all Muslims would be sent to detention centres. “These are all lies. Respect education,” he said.

Earlier, Delhi BJP Chief Manoj Tiwari welcomed the Prime Minister and thanked him for regularization of the unauthorised colonies in the national capital.

Calling the Prime Minister a ‘messiah’ of the poor, Tiwari said BJP never goes back on its promises.

Tiwari said Delhi also needs a government of the BJP at least for five years. He chanted Modi’s name to draw cheers from the crowd.

Union MInister Prakash Javadekar said, ” Delhi will go to the polls in the next 45 days. I see BJP coming to power with a full majority.”

“What do you want — development or destruction, nationalism or anarchy, anti-national slogans raised in JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University) or those who would end such activities?” said Javadekar.

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Member of Parliament from New Delhi, Minakshi Lekhi said, “We are not here to make India a ‘Hindu Rashtra’, but to keep the essence of Hindustan.” She accused opposition parties of using students against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Hansraj Hans, another MP from Delhi, showered praise on the PM and sang a song. (IANS)