In his first radio broadcast after the demonetisation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged for a movement to turn India into a cashless society. He asked young people to teach mobile banking and other e-commerce technology to at least 10 families.
Mr. Modi termed the decision to demonetise tough and said that he had been aware of the difficulties regarding the decision. “I had even spoken about it in the speech that I gave on the day I announced the decision. I knew this was going to be tough, disturbing systems that have been in place for 70 years is never easy, but I am heartened by the support that I have received from the people. And, that support convinces me that we will be successful in overcoming the challenges posed by this decision,” he said.
‘A less-cash economy, if not a cashless one’
A major part of his address was to the young people of the country, who he asked to become the “soldiers of change” in turning India into a cashless economy or at least a “less-cash” one. “I need the help of young people in India, and they too should see that they have an invaluable opportunity to serve the motherland. There are many people in your families or neighbourhoods who may not know how to use technologies such as e-wallets and payments through mobiles. I urge you to spend some time, an hour or more, every single day, to teach this technology to at least 10 families who may not know it,” he said.
He thanked the people for what he termed “overwhelming support” for the move to demonetise the higher currency notes. He mentioned a bank officer from Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh who delivered cash at home to a person who had been injured in an accident, a couple in Surat — Bharat Maru and Daksha Parmar — who because of the cash crunch served only tea at their wedding but supported the demonetisation move. He also stated how 43 urban local bodies across the country had collected more than Rs. 13,000 crore in dues compared to only Rs 3,500 crore in the same period last year.
He urged daily wage workers to insist on payment of wages through banks. “This will end your exploitation where a certain amount is mentioned against your name in records but you end up getting much less in hand,” he said.
Mr. Modi also said that he was aware that people holding black money were trying to use accounts held by the poor to launder their cash, but urged them “not to implicate the poor in this wrongdoing.”
A major part of his speech was on the virtues of a cashless economy and digital transactions. Mr. Modi urged small traders to switch to digital payments, pointing out that the use of this kind of technology will help them compete better with bigger retail chains in malls. “My government has already passed laws wherein small shops can remain open 24/7 and compete with malls and big establishments,” he said.
On Monday, the Opposition is holding a countrywide protest over demonetisation and have been demanding Mr. Modi’s presence in Parliament for a debate on the issue.