NEW DELHI, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) -- India Tuesday night abolished currency notes of 500 and 1,000 denomination in one of the biggest revolutionary monetary reforms since independence, aimed at curbing the menace of black money.
In a sudden address to the nation a little after 8 p.m. (local time), Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation of notes of 500 rupees (10 U.S. dollars) and 1,000 rupees (20 U.S. dollars), saying they will be illegal tender with effect from midnight.
However, for the next 72 hours, those notes will be valid at airports, train stations and bus stands, apart from state-run essential stores and milk kiosks, he said.
Describing the move as essential to fight "the disease of black money," Modi said the old currency notes of 500 rupees and 1,000 rupees must be deposited, starting Thursday till December 30, at post offices and banks.
He said the country's central bank will introduce new notes of 500 and 2,000 denomination Thursday. "Your money will remain yours ... you need have no worry on this account," Modi said as he urged the people to bear "temporary hardships" in the implementation of the new rule.
"India is now a global bright spot. With its fast-growing economy, corruption and black money are the biggest obstacles to our success. We are number one in rate of economic growth. (But) India still ranks at number 76 in world rankings for perception of corruption," he said.
Shortly after his address, local TV channels showed photos of massive queues at automated teller machine kiosks as anxious people lined up to withdraw lower denomination notes.
Indian President Pranab Mukherjee welcomed the government's "bold step," which he said will help "unearth unaccounted money & counterfeit currency." However, the country's main opposition Congress party did not come out in support and instead spelt out the inconveniences people would face.