New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said he was confident that India would shine like gold after the government’s decision to demonetise high value currency notes that would curb unaccounted wealth in the country.
“Just like gold we will emerge glowing from this fire. The main reason behind this confidence is our people,” said the Prime Minister, defending the demonetisation move in his monthly radio broadcast “Mann ki Baat”.
PM Modi said he had cautioned that there would be inconveniences caused by the move and that “we would face new problems”.
“I had said it will take about 50 days for the situation to normalise. It is not easy to get rid of the 70-year-old problem” of corruption and black money, he emphasised.
“Your support despite severe problems touched me. You have not wavered despite efforts to misguide you,” he said in his address to the nation, weeks after the surprise move that has caused unprecedented crash crunch in the country.
PM Narendra Modi urged the nation’s small traders and daily wage earners to embrace digital payment channels, as a cash crunch following the government’s surprise ban on high-value bank notes drags on.
He said the government understands that millions have been affected by the ban on Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes, but defended the action.
The government says the bank-note ban announced on Nov. 8 is aimed at cracking down on corruption, people with unaccounted wealth, and counterfeiting of notes. “I want to tell my small merchant brothers and sisters, this is the chance for you to enter the digital world,” PM Modi said, urging them to use mobile banking applications and credit-card swipe machines.
“It’s correct that a 100 per cent cashless society is not possible. But why don’t we make a beginning for a less-cash society in India?,” PM Modi said. “We can gradually move from a less-cash society to a cashless society.”
More than 90 per cent of consumer purchases in India are transacted in cash, Credit Suisse estimates. While a smartphone boom and falling mobile data prices have led to a surge in digital payments in recent years, the base still remains low. PM Modi urged technology-savvy young people to spare some time teaching others how to use digital payment platforms.