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Indian PM vows to fix government muddle in first Independence Day speech

Published on Aug 15, 2014 1:17 PM
 
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves at the end of his speech from the Red Fort to mark the country's 68th Independence Day in New Delhi on Aug 15, 2014. 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. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - 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.

He did unveil an initiative 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 he would replace the central Planning Commission that for decades guided the country's socialist-style economy with a more modern institution.

Modi spoke for more than an hour from the ramparts of the 17th-century Red Fort, from where Mughal kings ruled Delhi for two centuries. 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 bureaucratic disarray.

 
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