'If I could change just one thing in India, I would abolish the caste system'
'There is a human aspect to relationships in India which is missing in the West...'
'What really makes me sad with our country is that the majority feel that politics should be avoided. We don't have our best people in politics. We could have been a developed country in 15 years if our best brains had come forward to lead the country,' says politician, academician, activist Dr Subramanian Swamy in Rediff.com's special series where well-known Indians speak about their India.
I could have lived abroad, but I chose to come back here because this is a better country to live in.
There is a human aspect to relationships here which is missing in the West. Here we make lasting friendships which are based on warmth and understanding and an emotional connect.
In the West, friends are business-like and contractual. Here family relationships and bonds are stronger.
We have an extended family here whereas in the West it is a nuclear family and even that nuclear family does not last. Mom and Dad live separately in many cases which is a norm there but a rarity here. Here, marriages are sacred.
Here we accept people for what they are with all their faults and shortcomings. We are not judgmental. While over there, people are very judgmental and point out shortcomings. They accept only a certain kind of behaviour and will be upset if you behave differently.
What really makes me sad with our country is that the majority feel that politics should be avoided. So what has happened is that we don't have our best people in politics. We are saddled with leaders who never place the country before themselves.
We could have been a developed country in 15 years if our best brains had come forward to lead the country. Instead, we are led by corrupt politicians and after 66 years we are still underdeveloped.
Good people are not in politics and that is my greatest regret. People look down on politics and politicians. The elite think it is declasse to indulge in politics. The intelligentsia looks down on politics. The middle class does not respect politics.
Our leaders have lost the trust, confidence and love of the people.
This has to change and good people should come to lead the country. There is still hope.
If I could change just one thing in India, I would abolish the caste system.
Dr Subramanian Swamy was president of the Janata Party which merged with the Bharatiya Janata Party in August. A former Union minister he has been a member of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha twice.
He spoke to A Ganesh Nadar.
Image: Construction work in Jeypore, Odisha.
Photographs: Desmond Boylan/Reuters