The fourth, and striking, feature of the PM's New Year's Eve address is the centrality of the banks in the multilayered penance the PM offered the people of India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced a host of new schemes for various sections of society even as he urged the people to continue supporting the government in the fight against corruption and black money. In addition to this, he also announced a 3 per cent interest subvention for loans of up to Rs 2 lakh in the rural areas, taken for either new home or extention of housing.
Defending the scheme, the finance minister, Arun Jaitley, said on Thursday there had been a 14.4% increase in the value of income tax collected since the policy was introduced, while indirect tax collection had grown by 26%.
He said that PMs announcements should not be termed as "sops", and asserted that the poor, middle class, farmers and small traders were only being given their due that was denied to them by the system which was under the command and control of the those having black money.
The televised speech was widely seen as an opportunity for Mr Modi to shore up support after a radical move on Nov 8 to withdraw all 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee bills, accounting for 86 per cent of currency in circulation.
It's not clear how the sops for low-priced housing - interest subventions and hiking the targets under the Indira Awas Yojana - are going to help, unless it is to give a fillip to the construction sector, where there have been significant job losses. According to the Reserve Bank of India, banknotes worth 5.92 trillion rupees - about 38% of the amount invalidated - went into circulation between November 10 and December 19.
After demonetisation, Modi had said: "Help me for 50 days and I will give you the India you desired". The State government should work as a bridge between the people and the bankers, he added. Banks have to raise cash credit for small and medium enterprises from 20% to 35%.
Local firms which allow people to make digital payments both online and in shops have reported a surge in transactions as people look for cashless alternatives. The promise to deposit Rs 6,000 in the bank account of every pregnant woman takes a leaf out of a popular scheme of the Orissa government.
Banks have to issue RuPay cards in place of Kisan Credit Cards. However, poll surveys by independent news channels, including India Today, have indeed found some support for the drive from unexpected quarters, despite widespread setback to the informal economy.
Senior citizens get a rickety walking stick: For senior citizens, 8 per cent interest on fixed deposits of up to Rs 7.5 lakh for 10 years.