It almost felt like meeting a long-lost friend when I read Dilip D’Souza’s comment on my Meera Nanda piece. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that name. I had to wait for several hours before I could respond because I first had to control a range of emotions that coursed inside me wildly. Only then did I respond. What followed subsequently was just like the old times. For those who came late, here’s a sample of the old times that I’m talking about. And then one fine day he just left. Only to return now.
I be a happy man again.
But those were days when people’s patience hadn’t dwindled to 140 characters. Active bloggers wrote frequently and with genuine passion and eagerly awaited the next post from their favourite bloggers. The comments section of some blogs was delightful, engaging, and instructive—sometimes all at once. In case of this blog, I must acknowledge the mountain of debt that I owe to several commenters from whom I’ve learned a lot. Dilip D’Souza also happens to be one of them.
If not for him, my education would’ve missed a crucial lesson, which I’ve named in His Honour as The Dilip D’Souza School of Argument. Because knowledge multiplies when it’s shared, I’ve decided to do my bit of knowledge-sharing in this piece.
The Dilip D’Souza School of Argument (DDSA) is also known in common parlance as switch and bait. There are variations and nuances of S&B but they are meant for people who opt for higher studies. S&B works like this:
- An adherent of the DDSA asks a question about a widely-known fact or makes an assertion of a similar nature on something that someone has written.
- People respond to him saying that it’s widely known, that enough material about it is available, and that if he doesn’t know, he must make the effort to read it.
- He ignores the part about it being a well-known fact. He also ignores the bit about asking him to read up and repeats his question.
- When people repeat the same response as in #2, he tells them that the actual fact is merely the claim of the responders. Switch.
- By now, people are obviously annoyed or offended or both and yell at him.
- He in turn responds by repeating the same question again and what’s more, tells the responders that they’re abusing/accusing him and that they’re being evasive. Even at this stage, he hasn’t bothered to read up. Bait.
Let’s see this principle in action with a hypothetical example. Let’s assume somebody writes the following without going into details about why, what, how, where, who and when.
Nancy Reagan was a staunch believer of astrology and relied on astrologers to plan President Reagan’s schedules.
- A DDSA-adherent responds thus: “Nancy Reagan was a staunch believer of astrology and relied on astrologers to plan President Reagan’s schedules.” Why?
- Not everybody has the time, patience or inclination to write in detail about Nancy’s well-known and well-documented craze for astrology. Not especially when material is readily available. And so somebody asks the DDSA guy to go and read up on Nancy Reagan.
- DDSA guy ignores the part about Nancy’s astrology-craze being a well-known fact. He also ignores the bit about asking him to read it and says: “Nancy Reagan was a staunch believer of astrology and relied on astrologers to plan President Reagan’s schedules.” Why?
- When responders repeat the same thing that they did in #2, the DDSA guy tells them that Nancy Reagan’s astrology craze is simply their claim.
- One or more responders lose their cool and call him an ignoramus and similar stuff.
- DDSA-guy responds by calling them evasive, abusive, and says yet again: “Nancy Reagan was a staunch believer of astrology and relied on astrologers to plan President Reagan’s schedules.” Why?
For a real-life, firsthand illustration of this, please head to this post and read the comment exchanges between Dilip D’Souza and me. Additional tip: the DDSA principles explained above are only an outline. If you wish to hone your skills in this area, I highly recommend reading his blog posts, articles in the media and elsewhere and comments on other blogs.
It appears that Dilip D’Souza works pretty much like an Internet search engine, which functions on only a diet of keywords. Over the years of reading what he writes and sporadic interactions with him, it seems like Dilip D’Souza is bestirred to two distinct types of action when he reads certain keywords. Note that the list of keywords that follow is partial.
The first action type is one of compassion and support, which is elicited by some or all of the following keywords : poor people, people below poverty line, Dalits, tribals, villagers, Muslims, Islam, farmer-suicides, peasants, Babri Masjid, Teesta Setalvad, M.F. Hussain, Binayak Sen, and Left.
The second action type is one of righteous rage and contempt, which is elicited by some or all of the following keywords : BJP, RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal, Ayodhya, Hindu Activists, L.K. Advani, Ram Janmabhoomi, Narendra Modi, Savarkar, and Golwalkar.
Oh and there is a third action type. It is one of silence, elicited by some or all of the following keywords: Islamic terrorism (to him, terrorists have no religion, and so even if the trigger-happy guys themselves proclaim loudly that they are doing it in the service of Allah, their words somehow don’t reach Dilip’s eyes and ears—is there a medical term for this?), missionary conversion activity, murder of Swami Lakshmanananda by Christian missionaries, and Ghulam Nabi Fai.
Like I said earlier, it took some time for me to bring my emotions under control before I could respond to Dilip’s re-emergence on this blog after so long. Emotional control brings great clarity of thought such as this: apparently, it looks like it isn’t love for me that triggered his dramatic reemergence but the keywords Savarkar and Golwalkar. On my part however, it’s still just like the old times and the long-lost friend sentiment. But it’s a little sad when you realize that despite all these years the friend has learnt nothing from the beatings he took for bad behaviour back in Class 3.
Postscript: Dilip, I continue to maintain that yes, Savarkar and Golwalkar admired Hitler. And no I refuse to indulge you by answering why. You might want to call it evasion on my part. I’ll call it ignorance on your part. Cheers!