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"Policy making should incorporate inputs from universities and think tanks: Narendra Modi"
"Focus needs to shift from Highways to Information Highways. We need optical fibre network across the country: Narendra Modi"
"PM gives Mantra of “per drop, more crop” for water conservation"
"Skill development is a priority area for us. We believe in our demographic dividend: Narendra Modi"

The Prime Minister gave a timely glimpse into how policy making in the country needs to evolve with the times. Speaking on the occasion of release of "Getting India Back on track – an Action agenda for reform", in a function at 7, Race Course Road, New Delhi he said policy making should incorporate inputs from universities and intellectual think tanks. The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today said "the input of intellectual think tanks" should be substantially enhanced for better policy frameworks. Focussing on the need for  better long term planning he said, “Universities should also be actively involved in research and analysis of the developmental process, to contribute in the best possible way for policy-related decisions.”

Sharing a futuristic vision, he said infrastructure focus needs to shift from highways to "information highways which he says are I-ways.  Stressing on the need for building better optical fibre networks he said while cities in the past were built on river-banks, they will now be built based on availability of optical-fibre networks and next-generation infrastructure.

The Prime Minister said that he wants the country to treat urbanisation as an opportunity and not a problem. He said if we have to generate employment and change for the better, we plan to build 100 smart cities. Using anecdotes and analogies, the Prime Minister cited the three colours of the National Flag, to suggest revolutionary agendas of futuristic growth.

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Beginning with green, he said we need to bring about a second green revolution – focusing on increased agro-productivity, value addition, agro technology, and decentralization of warehousing. Referring to white, he said a white revolution must now focus on increasing milk productivity, and developing a support system for ensuring cattle health. The Prime Minister said, saffron colour represents energy – and we need a saffron revolution that focuses on renewable energy sources such as solar energy, to meet India's growing energy demand. Inspired by the blue colour of the Ashok Chakra in the National Flag, he said the blue revolution should focus on the fisheries sector, including ornamental fish.

Shri Modi stressed on the need for water conservation, and emphasized the importance of micro-irrigation, which would lead to "per drop, more crop." He said that micro-irrigation had been successful in improving productivity and quality in crops like sugarcane in Gujarat.

He said we need to exploit the demographic dividend, as 65 percent of our population was below 35 years of age. For this skill development needs to be a priority area. Referring to skills such as teaching, nursing and paramedics, he said good teachers were one of the biggest needs of society, but there are very few good teachers available. He asked the audience why India should not aim to become an exporter of good teachers who would capture the imagination of an entire generation globally. He said if India has to compete with China, the focus should be on skill, scale and speed.

Talking about the need to combat the challenge of global warming and climate change, the Prime Minister said that a civilization that treated rivers as mothers, did not need to learn about environment protection from a western mindset. Overall, the speech gave  insights into  how India’s economic policy making is set to  undergo a much needed change with a promise of bigger and better opportunities  for the citizens of the country.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Finance, Corporate Affairs and Defence, Shri Arun Jaitley said there could not have been a more appropriate time for release of the book. He said Governments should not only have the will to rule, but also the credibility to rule. He said the international community was once again looking at India, and it is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss.

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Package for Promotion of Digital and Cashless Economy
December 08, 2016
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Govt introduces a package of incentives for promotion of digital and cashless economy
0.75% discount on purchase of petrol/diesel through digital means
Deployment of 2 POS devices each in 1 Lakh villages with population of less than 10,000
Discount upto 0.5% for monthly or seasonal tickets from January 1, 2017, if payment is made digitally
All railway passengers buying online ticket shall be given free accidental insurance cover of upto Rs. 10 lakh

In the aftermath of the cancellation of the legal tender character of old Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 notes, there has been a surge in the digital transactions through use of credit/debit cards and mobile phone applications/e-wallets etc. To further accelerate this process, the Central Government has decided on a package of incentives and measures for promotion of digital and cashless economy in the country. 

These incentives/measures are following: 

  1. The Central Government Petroleum PSUs shall give incentive by offering a discount at the rate of 0.75% of the sale price to consumers on purchase of petrol/diesel if payment is made through digital means.

Nearly 4.5 crore customers buy petrol or diesel at such petrol pumps per day who can take benefit of this incentive scheme.  It is estimated that petrol/diesel worth Rs.1800 crore is sold per day to the customers out of which nearly 20% was being paid through digital means.  In the month of November 2016 it has increased to 40% and the cash transaction of Rs.360 crore per day have got shifted to cashless transaction methods.  The incentive scheme has the potential of shifting at least 30% more customer to digital means which will further reduce the cash requirement of nearly Rs. 2 lakh crore per year at the petrol pumps.

  1. To expand digital payment infrastructure in rural areas, the Central Government through NABARD will extend financial support to eligible banks for deployment of 2 POS devices each in 1 Lakh villages with population of less than 10,000.  These POS machines are intended to be deployed at primary cooperative societies/milk societies/agricultural input dealers to facilitate agri-related transactions through digital means.

This will benefit farmers of one lakh village covering a total population of nearly 75 crore who will have facility to transact cashlessly in their villages for their agri needs. 

  1. The Central Government through NABARD will also support Rural Regional Banks and Cooperative Banks to issue “Rupay Kisan Cards” to 4.32 crore Kisan Credit Card holders to enable them to make digital transactions at POS machines/Micro ATMs/ATMs.
  1. Railway through its sub urban railway network shall provide incentive by way of discount upto 0.5% to customers for monthly or seasonal tickets from January 1, 2017, if payment is made through digital means.

Nearly 80 lakh passengers use seasonal or monthly ticket on suburban railways, largely in cash, spending worth nearly Rs.2,000 crore per year.  As more and more passengers will shift to digital means the cash requirement may get reduced by Rs.1,000 crore per year in near future.

  1. All railway passengers buying online ticket shall be given free accidental insurance cover of upto Rs. 10 lakh.

Nearly 14 lakh railway passengers are buying tickets everyday out of which 58% tickets are bought online through digital means.  It is expected that another 20% passengers may shift to digital payment methods of buying railway tickets.  Hence nearly 11 lakh passengers per day will be covered under the accidental insurance scheme.

  1. For paid services e.g. catering, accommodation, retiring rooms etc. being offered by railways through its affiliated entities/corporations to the passengers, it will provide a discount of 5% for payment of these services through digital means.

All the passengers travelling on railways availing these services may avail the benefit.

  1. Public sector insurance companies will provide incentive, by way of discount or credit, upto 10% of the premium in general insurance policies and 8% in new life policies of Life Insurance Corporation sold through the customer portals, in case payment is made through digital means.
  1. The Central Government Departments and Central Public Sector Undertakings will ensure that transactions fee/MDR charges associated with payment through digital means shall not be passed on to the consumers and all such expenses shall be borne by them.  State Governments are being advised that the State Governments and its organizations should also consider to absorb the transaction fee/MDR charges related to digital payment to them and consumer should not be asked to bear it.
  1. Public sector banks are advised that merchant should not be required to pay more than Rs. 100 per month as monthly rental for PoS terminals/Micro ATMs/mobile POS from the merchants to bring small merchant on board the digital payment eco system.

Nearly 6.5 lakh machines by Public Sector Banks have been issued to merchants who will be benefitted by the lower rentals and promote digital transactions.  With lower rentals, more merchants will install such machines and promote digital transactions. 

  1. No service tax will be charged on digital transaction charges/MDR for transactions upto Rs.2000 per transaction.
  1. For the payment of toll at Toll Plazas on National Highways using RFID card/Fast Tags, a discount of 10% will be available to users in the year 2016-17.