PM Narendra Modi’s New Year eve 2017 speech: Mini-bang steps set tone for big-bang Budget 2017

By: | Updated: December 31, 2016 11:26 PM

Was Prime Minister Narendra Modi's much-awaited (and feared, for some!) New Year eve 2017 speech a once-in-a-lifetime address that will go down in history for its visionary content?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the nation on the eve of New Year, in New Delhi on Saturday. (PTI)Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the nation on the eve of New Year, in New Delhi on Saturday. (PTI)

Was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-awaited (and feared, for some!) New Year eve 2017 speech a once-in-a-lifetime address that will go down in history for its visionary content? Quite clearly, no! Indeed, to even expect that it would have been explosive, taking everyone by shock, was unrealistic. For one, unlike his November 8 demonetisation speech which came as a bolt from the blue, this one was something that people were aware of. For another, the situation is still not back to normal post demonetisation – so it would have been exceptional for the Prime Minister to cause further disruption in the system. But, that doesn’t mean that it was a damp squib either – far from that, actually.

It is widely expected by experts that post demonetisation – given its projected impact on GDP and anguish amongst people – the Narendra Modi government would look to boost consumption, propel economy onto the growth path, and give taxpayers a much-needed relief. PM Modi may not have gifted any of these things on New year’s eve, but his all-inclusive, people-centric speech tells us that his government’s Budget 2017 would certainly look to make the lives of citizens better. From sops for farmers, women, poor, urban poor, middle class – PM Modi was focused on the common man – an all-encompassing address that tells us that Budget 2017 by FM Arun Jaitley is likely to bring cheer to a large section of people.

Watch: Full speech of PM Narendra Modi on New Year’s eve

If one were to read the fine print of PM Modi’s speech, he repeatedly spoke of the troubles that “the poor, the lower middle class, and the middle class” had to face because of demonetisation. He lauded the “sacrifice” that people were willing to make to weed out the deeply entrenched corruption from the system. His focus was on helping farmers, small businessmen, SMEs and MSMEs reap benefits and to ease the pain of demonetisation.

Governments tend to dole out sops for the poor (not that it is a bad practice), but often ignore the middle class and common taxpayers. PM Modi spoke of all, seemed to feel for all, and hence announced incremental relief measures for all. An interest subvention housing scheme for “the poor, the neo middle class and the middle class”, partial interest relief to farmers, promise of RuPay cards, enhanced credit availability for MSME sector, new scheme for pregnant women, senior citizens – PM Modi targeted several goals. He sought to please farmers, aid housing dreams, placate small businesses and honour senior citizens.

The reactions to PM Modi’s speech were mixed. Some people were even disappointed that the Prime Minister did not announce any major tax relief. But isn’t that what the Finance Minister does in the Budget speech? What PM Modi has done is lay ground for what each one of us can expect from the upcoming Union Budget 2017. In other words, the ‘mini-bang’ speech set the expectations for a ‘Big-Bang’ Budget 2017.

“When policies and programmes are made with clear objectives in mind, not only are beneficiaries empowered, but both short term, and long term benefits are achieved,” he said. “Spending is carefully scrutinized, and chances of good results are maximized,” PM Modi said, dropping the biggest possible hint that people can look forward to more steps in the coming days (read: Budget).

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