India's Modi vows to fix government muddle

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

NEW DELHI - 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.

Delivering his first Independence Day speech, Modi said India could not move ahead if there was disunity in government, emphasising his focus on the process of government and avoiding big-bang reform announcements.

He did, however, announce 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.

"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 with Indians who have come to see the bureaucracy as a stumbling block.

The previous Congress party-led government was seen as ineffectual and unable to carry out reforms as government departments from finance to environment worked at cross-purposes.

"The government is not an assembled entity but an organic entity. I have tried to break down these walls," Modi said from the ramparts of 17th-century Red Fort from where Mughal kings ruled Delhi for two centuries.

Modi also spoke about violence against women, saying his head hung in shame to see reports of rape across the country. He said 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."