07 AUGUST 2020
Dilip D'Souza : Thoughts for a nation
Sep 12 2010
Sickness at altitude
The flash flood has brought devastation, and also a warning to Ladakhis not to build indiscriminately, ignoring earlier generations' knowledge about where water was known to flow, writes Dilip D'Souza.
Jun 22 2007
Bare right field
As a believer in the promise of democracy first and above all, I long for the checks and balances of competing ideologies. Yet for too long in this country, we heard only, or largely, the voice of the left, and the right that did emerge eventually was itself flawed, writes Dilip D'Souza.
Jan 31 2007
One-step, two-step, write
Is it enough for me to go travelling to various parts of this country and write about my experiences? Does it really help those I write about, in any meaningful way? Dilip D'Souza writes about the gnawing question.
Dec 30 2006
Exploring the new expressways

The idea of world class highways in India, runway smooth, takes some getting used to. There is the Golden Quadrilateral from Delhi to Mumbai, and then there are the 70 kms of rubble between Disa in Gujarat and Sanchor in Rajasthan. Dilip D'Souza drives into the New Year weekend.

Nov 30 2006
Sources, two. Understanding, nil.
The mob came from three different directions. Each group was preoccupied with its own murder. Bhayyalal's wife and daughter had their skulls smashed in, and his boys were beaten to death with sticks. Dilip D'Souza listens to the 'background' of yet another caste murder.
Sep 26 2006
The memory of a memorial
The tsunami is not forgotten, but in Keechankuppam the fishermen have weighed the risk of another tsunami against the prospects for finding safer housing further inland. And so their huts are back again on the once-ravaged beach, as though the tsunami never happened, writes Dilip D'Souza.
Jul 31 2006
The worst act

For too many of us, the killings of terrorists have come to characterise an entire religion, and taint everybody who follows it. In the Muslim areas of Bombay, residents deal with the feeling that an entire city, an entire country, maybe the whole world, sees them as responsible for terrorism, writes Dilip D'Souza.

May 29 2006
Long distance call
We visited Barshi-Takli because we heard about a farmer who had killed himself there, and then we found out about another farmer suicide there. We made futile little consoling cluck-clucks with bewildered widow, then a weeping mother. Dilip D'Souza visited grief-stricken families in Vidarbha.
Mar 17 2006
A thin Indian line
The first step towards eradicating poverty is to understand just how many of us are poor, and what that means. Thus far the government's measurement of poverty has simply been a self-serving one, and it's time we adopted a more honest calculation, writes Dilip D'Souza.
Jan 20 2006
Friday at the court
What's the difference between hearing a case, and merely setting a date for hearing it? Dilip D'Souza isn't quite sure, after yet another day spent answering a court summons. Justice, he learns first-hand, is riding on a prayer, and is often at least one more hearing away.
Dec 26 2005
Your hands, so warm
It's bad enough that you can pay bribes to officials who are very willing to take them; bad enough that ill-gotten gains are nearly a birthright today; bad enough that values are to laugh at. But corruption is about more than these. Corruption breaks down the very rules we live by. Dilip D'Souza remembers his court appearances.
Nov 24 2005
Nobody touches the Act

"This building is dangerous. It may collapse at any time. Enter at your own risk." So goes a warning sign at the entrance to a building in Mumbai. Buildings that crumble are an old tradition in this city, with at least one cause being the Rent Control Act. Dilip D'Souza says the pernicious law must go.

Oct 17 2005
All down saar
Tsunami relief in Tamilnadu may have taken on an altogether unexpected colour. Some villages escaped the giant tides, and yet in Shanmuganagar, villagers destroyed their homes, when the tsunami itself did not. Why? "We were scared, and they promised us a new house," finds Dilip D'Souza .
Sep 15 2005
Not that lucky
Eight months since the December 2004 tsunami, Dilip D'Souza returned to Nagore near Nagapattinam, Tamilnadu, to find that plenty of boats donated by NGOs were poorly built. As 'relief', many fishermen received boats that leak and one boat reportedly split under their feet on its first trip out to sea.
Aug 12 2005
It says about a city
What does it say about our priorities when a rescue team trying to get help to victims of a landslide has to destroy other homes to reach them? Citizens might be resilient during natural disasters, but this isn't spirit; to find that we have to look elsewhere, and at other times, says Dilip D'Souza.
Jul 19 2005
Talking across the divide
"It's unnatural, to hunker in a hut only a few dozen yards from another few soldiers looking back at you, and not think of them as just like you in every respect. This happens again the next day and the next - eventually, you'd be a robot not to wave, or shout, or something." Dilip D'Souza joins a post on the Indo-Pak frontlines.
May 12 2005
Chutney. That's all.
When does one stop being a migrant and become just one of the residents? Dilip D'Souza finds that the answer can be quite different, depending on who is giving it: the not-so-new arrivals themselves, or the original inhabitants. But it is the offical view that is most troubling, for it shows how much the migrants' lot is hostage to high office.
Apr 20 2005
Dandi: Crowds say something too
Was the salt march an essentially libertarian stand against taxes and government, was it about non-violence, or simply an assault on British rule via its weakest link? The more I reflect on Gandhi, the more I think that his enduring legacy is that you can find your own message in him, says Dilip D'Souza.
Mar 09 2005
But don't be a zero
The world moves to the tunes of two kinds of men: the great kind and the evil kind. The rest of us are somewhere in between. But what heroes and Neros both get us zeros to do is ask questions, says Dilip D'Souza.
Feb 11 2005
Cut-off by the date
Not least because affordable rental housing in Bombay is an urban myth, the jobs we invite our fellow Indians to fill so that we can have all those good things of a booming economy, are filled by people who have little choice but to live in slums. And then we raze those slum homes. Cavalier, says Dilip D'Souza.
Jan 15 2005
The shape of common sense
In Samiyarpettai, sub-collector Rajendra Ratnoo had put together a disaster management plan as a test case just two months ago. When the tsunami came last December 26, Ratnoo's plan worked spectacularly. Over one hundred survived because of Ratnoo's plan. That was an achievement, says Dilip D'Souza.
Dec 01 2004
Classes everywhere, not a stop to think
Many teenagers in Mumbai are spending their evenings on the "untiring toil" of tuitions, trying to learn what their teachers should have been teaching them in junior college but don't. This is a system that unthinkingly takes away these kids' leisure time, says Dilip D'Souza.
Nov 01 2004
Subsidy to nowhere
Offer to build 320,000 houses for slum-dwellers. Deliver only 1146. In two years, only a tiny fraction of the number of houses a Maharashtra government plan called for actually got built. Dilip D'Souza dissects an infamous cross-subsidy fiasco that was born as an election promise.
Oct 01 2004
Your quake, my insecurity
Dilip D'Souza contrasts the unquestioned annual increases in the defence budget with the real challenges of security faced by civilians.
Sep 01 2004
Alang: give us a break

Asia's largest shipbreaking yard has a regular supply of cheap labour as well as suspect environmental and safety conditions. Dilip D'Souza on the conditions we tolerate.

Dilip D'Souza was educated in Pilani, Providence, Delhi, Rishi Valley, Bombay, Cambridge, Austin and places in between. He was once a computer scientist, but now he writes for a living, on themes like development, nationalism, science, poverty, as well as travel. He has won several awards for his writing, including the Statesman Rural Reporting award and the Outlook/Picador nonfiction prize. He has published three books and a monograph of essays on patriotism. His most recent book is Roadrunner: An Indian Quest in America.