“Your phone is the bank and wallet”: PM

* Modi slams Opposition, says leaders are up in arms against demonetisation because the govt did not give time for them to hide black money
* Government think-tank Niti Ayog begins special training and workshops for all ministers and top govt officials in online cash transactions

In keeping with the adage ‘do what you preach’, the Narendra Modi government has started training for ministers and top government officials in cashless transactions. A team from Niti Aayog, the government think-tank, started their training session on Thursday night with power minister, Piyush Goyal, who has been the was the first man to speak up in Parliament, defending the demonetisation earlier this week and continues to be the most public face defending the PM’s sensational move. Speaking at a rally in Bhatinda in Punjab, to a crowd mostly constituting farmers, Modi delivered the same message. “Your phone is not just your phone. You can turn it into your bank and your wallet…now technology is such that you can use your money for payments in market and in business without touching cash…download the application of the bank on your phone,” he said.

Niti Ayog team will hold workshops and presentations on online transfer for all central ministries and their staff. We were there last night and had a session with Mr Goyal. We ran through different online transactions with him,” said one of the young men among the Niti Aayog crew which addressed the staffers and women and child development minister, Maneka Gandhi on Friday. And no one is taking it lightly. “I am sitting through the session and I have asked my staff also to join,” said minister, Maneka Gandhi.

At the training sessions officials are being taught to download the Unique Payments Interface which was launched in August this year by the government and use it to send and receive funds. The team explained how the new interface is easier compared to popular online payment services like NEFT, IMPS or RTGS. For instance, to pay a local shopkeeper, all one has to do is wait for him to send a request asking for payment on your UPI linked email ID and after your OK and a validation from the bank, the funds are transferred to his account. This system is now being used by 30 banks, the latest entrant being State Bank of India which launched its Unified Payments Interface enabled app called ‘SBI Pay’ on Thursday.

The second platform is Bharat Bill Payment System – a RBI mandated integrated platform connecting banks and non-bank entities in bill aggregation business. Earlier, speaking at the Constitution Day celebration function at the Parliament House Annexe, Modi said the demonetisation was under attack as its critics were tripped by the dramatic decision by his government. “Those who are criticising it are saying the government was not prepared to implement the decision,” “But that is not the real reason behind their criticism. They are hurt because the government didn’t give them enough time to prepare for it,” he said. “Even if they had got 72 hours to prepare themselves, they would have commended the move,” he added.

Modi made no reference to any political party. But the loudest criticism of his decision to do away with the old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes has come from the Opposition parties. The prime minister insisted there was only “little criticism” over his November 8 announcement. Modi said the whole nation was now fighting a big war against corruption and black money and the common man had become a soldier in this war. “The common man
feels that over the last 70 years, the same Constitution and its laws and rules were misused to drown the nation in corruption,” he said.

“Our nation comes at the top when it comes to corruption. We want to change that and make this a proud country. It is a big nation and a big decision. I expect from those who see a bright future for the nation to help those facing difficulties so that we are victorious in this war against corruption,” he added. Modi invited all political parties, NGOs and the media to educate and encourage people about cashless transactions. “Everyone has a right to use their money. But it is not necessary to have physical currency to be able to spend it. Ours is a nation that has over 100 crore mobile phones. And we have technology to transact through these phones. Why not educate and encourage people to use this technology?” He added that for the brighter future of the nation, there was a need for more transparency in financial transactions and a move towards digital currency.

Bihar politician and RJD supremo, Lalu Prasad Yadav, in his latest barb on demonetisation, has accused prime minister Narendra Modi of playing “Uncle Podger” from Jerome K Jeromes 1889 comic novel Three Men in a Boat. In a series of tweets on Friday, Lalu Prasad compared the Prime Minister to Uncle Podger, a character known for creating a mess out of simplest of projects and then blaming everyone else for it. “During study days, read a poem “Uncle Podger hangs the (a) picture”. #DeMonetisation chaos reminded me of him striking similarities with Modi”, he tweeted. The reference was to the third chapter of the novel in which Uncle Podger creates chaos while hanging a picture on a wall.

“Like Uncle Podger, Modiji boasts he needs no one, but soon employs evryone (everyone), creates mess, blames all-Picture out of frame & himself out of scene”, said Lalu Prasad in another tweet. Opposition parties have attacked the Prime Minister on the abrupt ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes and have asserted that demonetisation has left millions in a cash-crunch. “Modi Ji, like Uncle Podger, over promises but under delivers. First promises to deliver everything on his own and then creates a mess 4 (for) all”, quipped Lalu Prasad in his third tweet.

The Lok Sabha was disrupted over the demonetisation issue for the seventh straight day on Friday, losing the day’s business to disruptions. The first adjournment came shortly after the house met. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan tried to conduct the Question Hour, but she could not due to the ruckus. The house was adjourned until 12 noon. Adding to the chaos, a man attempted to jump into the lower house from the visitors” gallery, but he was stopped in time. The man was identified as Rakesh Singh Baghel, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan announced when the house reassembled at 12 noon. The man was interrogated by security officials. He said he was upset over demonetisation. The Speaker also informed the house that the man may be freed with a warning after inquiry. Meanwhile, Opposition members said that Modi should apologise for calling them “supporters of black money”. “We demand that Modi withdraw his comments and apologise for the comments he has made,” Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said.

Credits Bangalore Mirror

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