World

Modi calls for a new, 'clean' India by 2022

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi marked 70 years of Indian independence yesterday with an impassioned defence of his war on corruption.

In a major address from Delhi's Red Fort, Mr Modi said his shock decision to devalue India's largest banknotes had paid dividends, bringing US$46 billion (S$63 billion) in undeclared wealth back into state coffers.

CASH SHORTAGE

The removal of 500 (S$10.60) and 1,000 rupee notes from circulation compelled millions to join the formal banking sector but triggered a painful cash shortage in the world's fastest-growing major economy.

Previously, around 90 per cent of everyday transactions in India were in cash.

Mr Modi, who remained firm even as economists blamed his policy for curtailing growth, said trillions of rupees had returned under his crackdown on tax dodgers and the number of taxpayers has more than doubled since.

"India is celebrating honesty today. The corrupt have no place to hide," he said.

More than 300,000 shell companies associated with so-called "black money" had been red-flagged and more than 100,000 trading licences revoked under a sweeping clean-out of India's graft-riddled economy, he added.

Mr Modi urged his countrymen to embrace a "New India", which he hopes to achieve by 2022, where the "poor shall have concrete houses, where farmers' income shall double, where youth and women will get ample opportunities".

"An India that is free of casteism, terrorism, corruption, nepotism. A clean India," he said.

"A New India is one that leaves behind a 'chalta hai' (it is okay) attitude.

"We have to think of 'badal sakta hai' (we can change)."
 - AFP

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