(Adds analyst comment, background, edits)
By Sanjeev Miglani and John Chalmers
NEW DELHI Aug 15 Indian Prime Minister Narendra
Modi voiced dismay on Friday at the government in-fighting he
found on assuming office in May and vowed to fire up the
bureaucracy to deliver results in a country desperately in need
of growth and development.
Delivering his first Independence Day speech, Modi
emphasised the need for better governance but announced none of
the sweeping market reforms that many who handed him India's
biggest election mandate in three decades have been awaiting.
Critics say that Modi, who spoke for more than an hour from
the ramparts of the 17th-century Red Fort, from where Mughal
kings ruled Delhi for two centuries, scores high on oratory but
has delivered on few of his election campaign promises.
He did, however, unveil an initiative on Friday to improve
access to financial services for the two-fifths of Indians who
lack a bank account and are often at the mercy of moneylenders
who charge extortionate interest.
He also announced that he would replace the central Planning
Commission that for decades guided the country's socialist-style
economy with a more modern institution.
The 63-year-old prime minister, a newcomer to central
government after running the industrialised western state of
Gujarat for more than 13 years, bemoaned New Delhi's
"I saw that even in one government there were dozens of
governments. It was as if each had their own fiefdoms," he said,
touching on a key concern for many Indians, who have come to
revile the layers of bureaucracy and rampant corruption.
"The government is not an assembled entity but an organic
entity. I have tried to break down these walls," Modi said.
The centre-left government led by the Congress party that
was ousted in the election was seen as ineffectual and unable to
carry out reforms as departments from finance to environment
worked at cross-purposes.
Modi promised in his election campaign to revive economic
growth that has fallen below 5 percent, choking off job
opportunities for the one million people who enter the workforce
every month, and dangled the prospect of new roads, factories,
power lines, high-speed trains and even 100 new cities.
So far, there has been little movement on any of these
tasks, which will require an overhaul of land acquisition laws,
faster environmental clearances and an end to red tape.
Many of his supporters have been disappointed that he has
not cut food aid and other costly welfare schemes to channel
money into more effective poverty reduction steps. However,
economists said it was too early to expect dramatic initiatives.
"Let's get our expectations to real, acceptable levels,"
said Shubhada Rao, chief economist at YES Bank. "For the first
three years, it is going to be a repair-and-mend phase ... only
then the economy will be ready to take off. Until you repair,
these big bang announcements would go to waste."
MADE IN INDIA
In his speech, Modi spoke of the need to strengthen the
manufacturing sector and appealed repeatedly to investors:
"Come, make in India".
He also spoke about violence against women, saying his head
hung in shame to see incidents of rape and sexual assault
continuing unabated since the world was stunned by the gang rape
and murder of a young woman in New Delhi in 2012.
He said that while the law will take its course, Indian
society must itself be raising sons in the best possible manner.
"After all, a person who is raping is somebody's son. As
parents have we asked our sons where he is going? We need to
take responsibility to bring our sons who have deviated from the
right path, to bring them back."
He urged an end to caste and communal violence, drawing a
critical response from his political opponents who have accused
his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party of inciting social
tensions for electoral gain.
Modi has been dogged for years by allegations that he did
too little to prevent riots in Gujarat in 2002 in which more
than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed. He denies
wrongdoing and was exonerated by an investigation ordered by the
"The words are fine, but what about the track record?"
Rajeev Gowda, a senior Congress party lawmaker, told news
(Additional reporting by Manoj Kumar and Rupam Jain Nair in NEW
DELHI and by Neha Dasgupta in MUMBAI; Editing by Douglas Busvine
and Robert Birsel)