Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a strong push to turn India into a cashless economy and said demonetisation of high value currency notes was a step forward that would rid the country of unaccounted hidden wealth and corruption.
In his monthly radio talk “Mann Ki Baat”, Modi, however, acknowledged that the ambition was too big to happen immediately but people “can work towards a less-cash society”.
He urged people to start learning how the digital economy works wherein one can use mobile phones as banking devices and make payments.
“Learn the different ways you can use your bank accounts and internet banking. Learn how to effectively use the apps of various banks on your phones. Learn how to run your business without cash. Learn about card payments and other electronic modes of payment,” Modi said.
“A cashless economy is secure, it is clean.”
Modi asked the youth of India to take a pledge to make this initiative a success and urged them to teach their families, neighbours and small business owners how to go cashless and make electronic payments.
“You have a leadership role to play in taking India towards an increasingly digital economy. Your father or mother or even elder brother at home may not know. But you know how to book train tickets online, you know how to buy things online.
“Educate them on how to download apps, how to spend money using mobile phones, how to make payments, how to do business.
“More importantly, if you could teach a push-cart vendor or your vegetable vendor, there is no reason we cannot move towards a cashless India.”
Modi said the youth, by leading the campaign, can help so that “common people will be trouble fee”.
“All youth of India can do it very quickly and within a month the world can see a modern India. Be a soldier of change and bring it on. We will fight the black money and corruption. We know it is you who can bring the change and revolution.”
Defending the November 8 demonetisation move that has sparked an unprecedented cash crisis in the country, with people struggling to meet their basic needs, Modi said he was confident that India, “like gold”, would “emerge glowing from this fire”.
He said people’s support was the fountainhead of his confidence even if they were inconvenienced by the move.
“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 so easily, he said in his first radio talk since the ban on old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes.
“Your support despite severe problems touched me. You have not wavered despite efforts to misguide you.”
The Prime Minister said the entire world was watching and economists were analyzing the impact of the demonetization.
“They are curious to know how it is being rolled out and how we will emerge from the situation. The world may have doubts but India is confident.”
Modi said despite being warned some people were still trying to convert their ill gotten cash into white by using bank accounts of poor people and putting their lives into trouble.
“They are looking at unlawful ways. It’s unfortunate they have chosen to use poor people for this.
“I want to say that it is up to them to abide by the law or break it, it is up to them if they want to correct themselves. The law will deal with them. But please don’t play with the lives of poor.”