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India can't move ahead if there is disunity in govt: Modi

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his first Independence Day speech, has emphasised the need for better governance. He said the country cannot move ahead if there is disunity in the government.

NEW DELHI: India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his first Independence Day speech, has emphasised the need for better governance. He said the country cannot move ahead if there is disunity in the government.

But Mr Modi did not announce any sweeping market reforms, which he had promised in his election campaign that gave him India's biggest mandate in three decades.

Speaking from New Delhi's 17th century Red Fort on Friday (Aug 15), Mr Modi vowed to fix his government and improve a broken bureaucracy to serve the people of India. He reiterated the promises that powered him to become prime minister, laying emphasis on the need for creating jobs and eradicating poverty.

Mr Modi also stressed the need to strengthen and unify various government ministries. "One department was fighting with another department. Therefore, I am trying to break down these walls. Government should be an organic entity, moving in one direction with a common aim."

In a major announcement, Mr Modi declared that the national Planning Commission, set up in 1950, would soon be replaced with a new institution to keep up with economic changes.

He also reached out to investors across the world, inviting them to come and manufacture goods in India. "Come! Make in India! Sell anywhere across the globe, but manufacture here. We have skill, talent, discipline and the will to conquer the world."

The prime minister also touched on taboo subjects such as communal and caste violence, and most importantly, the growing incidence of rape and violence against women. He called on parents to take responsibility for their sons' actions, urging them to question their sons about their behaviour.

"When we hear about incidents of rape, our heads hang in shame," said Mr Modi.

But some activists felt Mr Modi failed to touch upon the larger issue of securing women's rights in the country.

Women's rights activist Annie Raja said: "He was telling (us) about nation building, but he has forgotten about the role of women in nation building. He should have actually highlighted those roles of women."

Mr Modi's maiden Independence Day speech may have struck the right chord with the masses, but his critics feel it was not different from his campaign speeches and fell short on making any big ticket announcements. The real challenge for him and his government now would be to successfully implement the vision he shared in his address to the nation.