Monday, Nov 28, 2022

Demonetisation pain & long-term gain: Slowdown is likely, poor can’t wait, need help now, says Pranab Mukherjee

The President was among the first to hail the move to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. He was briefed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi before his televised address on November 8.

Pranab Mukherjee, demonetisation, pranab mukherjee demonetisation, economy, economy slowdown, president pranab mukherjee, demonetisation, economy, economy slowdown, pranab mukherjee economy, demonetisation effects, india news President Pranab Mukherjee addresses Governors and Lt Governors through video conference on Thursday. (Source: PTI photo)

Cautioning that demonetisation may lead to a temporary slowdown, President Pranab Mukherjee Thursday said the country has to be “extra careful to alleviate the suffering of the poor” in its pursuit of “the expected progress in the long term”. He said he was “not too sure that the poor can wait that long” and “they need to get succour here and now”.

WATCH VIDEO | President Pranab Mukherjee Warns Modi Government Regarding Demonetisation

In his New Year message to Governors and Lt Governors via video conference from Rashtrapati Bhavan, Mukherjee said: “Demonetisation, while immobilising black money and fighting corruption, may lead to temporary slowdown of the economy. We all will have to be extra careful to alleviate the suffering of the poor which might become unavoidable for the expected progress in the long term.”

“While I appreciate the thrust on transition from entitlement approach to an entrepreneurial one for poverty alleviation, I am not too sure that the poor can wait that long. They need to get succour here and now, so that they can also participate actively in the national march towards a future devoid of hunger, unemployment and exploitation. The recent package announced by the Prime Minister will provide some relief,” he said.

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The President was among the first to hail the move to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. He was briefed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi before his televised address on November 8. In a statement issued the same night, Rashtrapati Bhavan said: “President Mukherjee welcomed the bold step taken by the government which will help unearth unaccounted money as well as counterfeit currency. He called upon people not to panic and to follow the government’s guidelines for exchanging currency notes of Rs 1,000/500 denomination available with them.”

His remarks Thursday come in the wake of the winter session of Parliament that was paralysed by Opposition parties protesting the demonetisation decision. MPs met the President twice, submitting memorandums to highlight what they called the plight of the common man post-demonetisation. They sought his intervention as the “guardian” of the Constitution to “alleviate the suffering” of the people.

In his address, the President said 2016 was “a year of mixed fortunes”. “It began on a very promising note with the economy performing well, overcoming the weak global economic trends. GDP growth of 7.2 per cent in the first half of 2016-17 — same as that of last year — is a pointer to the fact that our economic recovery has been on solid grounds.”

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“In 2014 and 2015, below normal rains had caused rural distress. A good monsoon in 2016 is expected to improve agricultural production and increase rural employment and incomes. Though our exports have been affected by weak global demand, we have a stable external sector. Reviving exports will remain a challenge but we can overcome it by improving the competitiveness of the domestic industry,” Mukherjee said.

Referring to the elections in the states — “This year, there will be elections in as many as seven states. The dates for elections in five states have already been announced” — he reminded the Governors that “elections are usually marked by competitive populism, electoral rhetoric and vote bank politics”.

“Noisy debates can deepen the fault lines in society. You, as Governors and Lt Governors, command respect and attention of the people of your state. Through your interaction and wise counsel, you can play an important role in easing the tensions in the society. Goodwill must prevail between different communities. At times, harmony may be put to test by vested interests. Communal tensions may rear their ugly head. Rule of law must form the sole basis of dealing with any such challenging situation.”

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WATCH VIDEO | Has PM Narendra Modi’s Demonetisation Move Failed Completely?

“In a pluralistic democracy like ours, tolerance, respect for contrary views and patience are a must. These values have to be preserved. India is a multi-faceted nation of 1.3 billion people, 122 languages, 1600 dialects and 7 religions. In the words of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru which I quote: ‘It is a country held together by strong but invisible threads’.”

“India’s strength lies in her diversity. The multiplicity in culture, faith and language is what makes India special. There will always be divergent strands in public discourse. We may argue. We may disagree. But we cannot deny the prevalence of multiplicity of opinion.”

The President also reminded the Governors that they “have a very important role to play in the improvement of higher education”.

“As chancellors and visitors of various universities, you can work with the academic leaders to effect holistic changes for quality upgradation in the institutions of higher learning. I have been exhorting the academia to concentrate on attaining excellence through original research and technology development. A look at numerous social problems affecting millions of women and men in our farms and factories clearly shows that humane values have not yet become a dominant driver of our intellectual pursuits. This should receive your focused attention… Your keen interest can rejuvenate a sector that is best positioned to support an innovation-led knowledge economy,” he said.

First published on: 06-01-2017 at 04:49:29 am
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