Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a slew of incentives to the poor, farmers, women and small businesses on Saturday in a special New Year's address, and defended his shock decision to abolish high denomination bank notes. The withdrawal of INR 500 and INR 1,000 rupee notes on Nov 8th caused widespread disruption and anger in a country where cash is dominant, and the televised speech was seen as an opportunity to offer financial relief to people suffering most. Modi had pledged that conditions would improve by the end of the year, but Indians have had to line up outside banks for hours to deposit old money or withdraw limited amounts of new notes. Analysts have forecast that economic growth will be hit this quarter as a result. But Modi believes long term gains will outweigh the short term pain; his radical decision was aimed at banishing the shadow economy, boosting taxes, beating corruption and moving towards a cashless society.

Modi said In this fight against corruption and black money, it is clear that you would like to walk shoulder to shoulder with the government. Prime Minister also said that the government would increase credit guarantees for small businesses and provided additional incentives for digital transactions. The struggles and sacrifices of India and Indians over the past 50 days was the focus of PM Modi speech on New Year's eve. His post-Diwali 'Shuddhi Yagna' (cleaning ritual), the PM said, had the complete support of the people who sweated it out in queues to withdraw or deposit their own money. There were no more surprises as India was dreading. In fact, it was more of a vote of thanks.

The battle against 'Sachchai and Achhai' (truth and righteousness) the PM insisted was needed to ensure a bright future for India. There was a clear bid to tell the nation that the honest Indian will come out triumphant in the end and the corrupt with pay for their sins. This is one message that will win in India, whenever it is uttered. Lauding the effort of the average Indian, he said what our country witnessed over the past few weeks was unprecedented in the history of the world. He also lauded everyone who helped make the move a success, especially the bank employees who worked hard to help people convert their hard earned money. In the same breath, he also admonished those who tried to throw a spanner in the works by helping the corrupt launder their money. He said such people would not be spared. Again, a message that will find widespread currency across the country.

Watch Full Speech here

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