New Delhi, Nov 30: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said opposition criticism won’t deter him from his government’s war against corruption and black money as he was willing to pay any political price for the steps he had taken to weed out graft.
Addressing the opening session of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit here, Modi said his government was committed to developing a development-centric eco system which is free of graft and is people-centric.
“I am aware of the political price I will have to pay for the steps taken by the government but I am ready for it,” he said, referring to demonetisation and the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax as measures to tackle graft and black money.
He said post demonetisation, black money, which was part of a parallel economy, has now become part of the formal system as data mining after the note ban has helped the government crack down against those hoarding unaccounted wealth and involved in corruption.
He said there has been a “positive change” in the mindset and self-confidence of people “like never before”, ever since his government came to power in 2014.
“If we see the country as a living entity then the positive attitude that has come to India, was never before,” Modi said.
Earlier the youth, women, farmers and the poor had minimal faith in the country’s resources, the Prime Minister said.
Emphasising that the citizens of India in 2014 not just voted to change the government, Modi said people also wanted and, therefore, voted for a “change in system that will be permanent, stable and irreversible”.
“Everywhere in the country, someone had to fight with the system day and night. I am trying and have committed that there will be irreversible change — ease of living will improve.”
Describing Aadhaar as a major “power” to bring about an “irreversible change” in the common man’s life, the Prime Minister said the Unique Identification Number would now be used in cases involving benami properties.
“By linking Aadhaar to mobile (phones) and bank accounts, we have created such a system that could not have been imagined few years back.
“In last three years, with the help of Aadhaar, crores of fake names have been removed from the system. Now it is going to be a big weapon against benami properties,” Modi said.
He said that the country saw a “behavioural change” after demonetisation, which helped in converting to a “clean and healthy economy”.
“For the first time after Independence, the corrupt people are scared of transacting in black money. They are scared of being caught. The black money, which was earlier the base of the parallel economy, has now become part of the formal economy.
“Such an irreversible change is getting boost from Aadhaar. Aadhaar is such a power through which this government wants to ensure rights of poor. It is also playing a big role in providing subsidised ration, scholarships, medicines, pensions and other government subsidies,” he said.
He said the day the country would adopt maximum transactions via digital addresses, “organised crime would come to an end to some extent”.
Modi said “big transformations” do not come easily and for it “hauling up of the entire system was needed”.
“We can increase our ease of doing business ranking from 142 to 100 only when we take initiatives for big transformation,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister said India’s influence on the international stage was also increasing “because of the growing reputation and trust” for the country.
“Indians living abroad feel proud. When slogans like ‘abki baar Trump sarkar’ (Trump government this time) and ‘abki baar Cameron sarkar’ (Cameron government this time) echo, India’s might is being accepted,” Modi said.
He was referring to the campaigns of former UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who used the slogan “phir ek baar Cameron sarkar” (Cameron government once again) to woo Indian origin voters in the 2015 elections, and US President Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2016, inspired by the 2014 Lok Sabha election slogan “Abki baar Modi Sarkar”.
“Where is India standing today, you know it well. Big or small, all countries are walking along with India, our influence on the international stage is increasing. We don’t have to stop now, we have to keep moving forward,” Modi said.