PM Modi's New Year's Eve address evokes mixed reactions
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's much-awaited New Year's Eve address to the nation evoked mixed reactions. While BJP complimented Modi, Congress expressed disappointment and AAP Chief Arvind Kejriwal felt the speech was "boring". West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sharply criticized Modi for "deviating" from the agenda of black money. She also asserted, after watching his speech, Indians would resolve to "deModitize" the country.
After much anticipation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on New Year's Eve, a day after his 50-day post-demonetization deadline of bringing back stability to India. People wondered what Modi was going to talk about; while media reports suggested he would show a roadmap or figures on recovery of black money. Instead, he rolled out several schemes to benefit India's economically backward sections.
PM Modi began his speech by saying that since 8 Nov'16, India witnessed a "historic rite of purification." The patience and discipline displayed by 125 crore Indians would help shape the country's future. He said corruption and black money became rampant bringing honest people to their knees. He added the government and people are on the same side in this historic battle against evil.
"It is accepted the world over, that terrorism, Naxalism, Maoism, counterfeit currency trade, drug trade, human trafficking - all of these depend on black money. These evils have become a festering sore on society and Governments. Demonetization has dealt a severe blow to these trades."
Modi appreciated bank employees and post-office staff for working hard as a part of the anti-corruption mission. He said over the past few weeks, the escape routes for the dishonest have been closed; technology played a major role in forcing them to join the mainstream. He added grave crimes committed by some bankers have come to light and such people wouldn't be spared.
The government would launch a housing scheme for the poor, neo-middle, and middle classes. Two new middle-income categories (urban areas) were created under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). Loans of up to Rs.2L taken in 2017 would receive 3% interest subvention, up to Rs.9L would receive 4%, and up to Rs.12L would receive 3%. Houses built in rural areas under PMAY increased by 33%.
Modi said demonetization didn't affect agriculture as Rabi sowing is 6% more than 2015. Farmers who took loans for Rabi crops from District Cooperative Central Banks and Primary Societies need not pay interest for 60 days. NABARD created a Rs.21,000cr fund and government would add Rs.20,000cr to this. Farmers having Kisan Credit Card would receive RuPay debit cards in three months for easy usage.
PM Modi said government would aid the MSME (medium and small scale enterprises) sector, boosting employment. The government has underwritten loans worth Rs.1cr loans given by banks to small businesses and the limit would be enhanced to Rs.2cr covering loans given by NBFCs also. Income from digital transactions of small businesses with a turnover of up to Rs.2cr would be calculated at 6%.
PM Modi said: "According to information with the Government, there are only 24 lakh people in India who accept that their annual income is more than Rs.10 lakh. Can we digest this? Look at the big bungalows and big cars around you."
PM Modi said a scheme for pregnant women is being launched under which financial assistance of Rs.6000 would be provided. The money would be transferred to their bank accounts for institutional delivery and vaccinations to effectively reduce maternal mortality rate. Under the senior citizens' scheme, banks would monthly pay a fixed interest rate of 8% for 10 years, on deposits up to Rs.7.5 lakh.
PM Modi said: "The time has now come that all political leaders and parties respect the feelings of the nation's honest citizens, and understand the anger of the people. I urge all parties to take firm steps to free politics of black money and corruption."