Category Archives: Readings

Book : Epic Engineering. Great Canals and Barrages of Victorian India

image1Epic Engineering. Great Canals and Barrages of Victorian India, Beechwood Melrose Publishing, 2013

Alan Robertson and Jeremy Berkoff

“In India in the early nineteenth century, young British officials in their twenties could find themselves in charge of huge projects. With little or no relevant experience, they had to learn on the job.

Proby Cautley designed and built the Ganges Canal. Over 700 miles long, it remains the biggest construction in the world built without mechanical help – using only man and animal power, wheelbarrows and shovels. In the south of India, his rival and exact contemporary Arthur Cotton built a barrage across the four-mile wide Godavari river, turning its vast delta into productive land.

The achievements of Cautley and Cotton were recognised by knighthoods and public acclaim. But they were completely different in characters and they quarrelled fiercely and publicly. This is their story.”

A review of the book in the Hindu

Interview : In Conversation with Jan Brouwer

jan-brouwerIn Conversation with Jan Brouwer

Sreekala Sivasankaran interviews Jan Brouwer, a pioneer in the field of anthropology of the artisans in India

“Dr Jan Brouwer is a pioneer in the field of the anthropology of artisans in India. A versatile personality of several accomplishments, he lives and works in the quiet confines of Mysuru, South India. Author of The Makers of the World (1995) and Coping with Dependence (1988), he recently donated his personal archive on Visvakarmas in Karnataka to the Southern Regional Centre (SRC) of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), Bengaluru. Dr Sreekala Sivasankaran, Associate Professor and Project Director of ‘The Worldview of Visvakarmas’ project at IGNCA, New Delhi, makes a vignette of the man and his work in this conversation with Dr Brouwer (conducted on October 11, 2016).”

Interview available here

 

Book: Des ingénieurs pour un monde nouveau. Histoire des enseignements electro-techniques (Europe-Amériques)

9782807600010Des ingénieurs pour un monde nouveau. Histoire des enseignements électrotechniques (Europe, Amériques) – XIXe–XXe siècle

Marcela Efmertová et André Grelon

 À partir des années 1880, l’électricité est progressivement devenue une technologie centrale, qui va procurer des biens et assurer des services nouveaux, bouleversant ainsi la production industrielle, l’économie et les pratiques sociales et culturelles. De confidentiel, son usage ne cessera de s’étendre, devenant massif et planétaire, et aujourd’hui indispensable jusqu’aux détails de la vie quotidienne. Pour fonder et déployer un système de production, de transport et de distribution efficaces de l’électricité dans tous les pays, pour concevoir, fabriquer et diffuser les machines, outils et objets divers fonctionnant par ce moyen, en somme pour former un monde nouveau, il faut former un corps de techniciens spécialisés : ce seront les ingénieurs électriciens, pour lesquels seront élaborés et mis en œuvre des cursus dédiés. Cet ouvrage retrace la naissance et la croissance de ces formations, à partir de la fin du XIXe siècle, en Europe et sur le continent américain, et leur rôle dans le développement des différents États. Issu des travaux d’un colloque international tenu à Prague, il rassemble les contributions de 28 historiens portant sur 15 pays.

https://www.peterlang.com/view/product/61960?

Article : “IT firms have changed the game of entrepreneurship”

Published in The Hindu, 18th October 2016

An interview with Roland Lardinois

From studying the economic strength of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) firms in India to analysing the background of the person at the helm of these firms, a French senior sociologist has attempted to take a closer look into the sociography of the major companies of the ICT sector in India.

Continue reading : http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/it-firms-have-changed-the-game-of-entrepreneurship/article9232740.ece

Article : The historical roots of our engineering obsession

by Aparajith Ramnath

“The birth anniversary of M. Visvesvaraya (September 15) is marked each year as Engineer’s Day. As another Engineer’s Day arrives, the now-familiar statistics will be rolled out again: lakhs of engineering graduates are produced in India each year from the thousands of engineering colleges that dot the country. This should lead us to examine some questions. What is the secret behind Indians’ love affair with engineering? Are there socio-cultural factors that make the Indian particularly suited to engineering, or that make engineering particularly desirable to Indians?… “

Continue reading here : http://www.thehindu.com/thread/reflections/article9110857.ece

 

Book : Une histoire des ingénieurs civils des mines

Marco Bertilorenzi, Jean-Philippe Passaqui et Anne-Françoise Garçon, Entre technique et gestion, une histoire des « ingénieurs civils des mines », XIXe-XXe siècles, Paris, Presses des Mines, 2016

Présentation générale 

Les « ingénieurs civils des mines », longtemps restés dans l’ombre de ceux du Corps des mines, ont pourtant exercé une influence décisive dans le processus d’industrialisation en France et ailleurs. Issus tout d’abord des Écoles des mines de Paris et de Saint-Étienne, auxquelles se sont ensuite ajoutées celles d’Alès, de Douai, de Nancy, et enfin de Nantes et d’Albi, les ingénieurs civils des mines ont été, au cours des XIXe et XXe siècles, des acteurs majeurs, omniprésents, de l’industrialisation.

À quoi est due une telle réussite ? Le « complexe technique » des mines est intrinsèquement lié à d’autres industries, telles que la métallurgie et la chimie, et implique la maîtrise de compétences diversifiées, étoffées, afin de mener une exploitation rationnelle des ressources nationales. Cependant, les seules compétences techniques sont insuffisantes ; elles doivent être associées à une maîtrise complète de la gestion et de l’administration d’une entreprise industrielle, un savoir-faire dont disposent les ingénieurs civils des mines.

Continue reading

Special Issue: Science of Giants: China and India in the Twentieth Century‏

 

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=BJT

Table of contents:

Another global history of science: making space for India and China ASIF SIDDIQI

Green-revolution epistemologies in China and India: technocracy and revolution in the production of scientific knowledge and peasant identity MADHUMITA SAHA and SIGRID SCHMALZER

Investigating nature within different discursive and ideological contexts: case studies of Chinese and Indian coal capitals PIN-HSIEN WU

Negotiating natural history in transitional China and British India FA-TI FAN and JOHN MATHEW

How deep is love? The engagement with India in Joseph Needham’s historiography of China LEON ANTONIO ROCHA

The future arrives earlier in Palo Alto (but when it’s high noon there, it’s already tomorrow in Asia): a conversation about writing science fiction and reimagining histories of science and technology
ANNA GREENSPAN and ANIL MENON and KAVITA PHILIP and JEFFREY WASSERSTROM

Planning for science and technology in China and India JAHNAVI PHALKEY and ZUOYUE WANG

Studying the snow leopard: reconceptualizing conservation across the China–India border MICHAEL LEWIS and E. ELENA SONGSTER

High-tech utopianism: Chinese and Indian science parks in the neo-liberal turn DIGANTA DAS and TONG LAM

Book: Carol Upadhya, Reengineering India

Reengineering India. Work, Capital, and Class in an Offshore Economy, Oxford University Press, July 2016, 359 p., ISBN: 9780199461486.

9780199461486Carol Upadhya

  • It is a comprehensive anthropological study of the Indian IT industry
  • It is unique in that it draws on long-term and in-depth ethnographic research inside software organizations and based on extensive interviews with IT professionals and others connected with the industry
  • It examines the origins of software capital, the shaping of the Indian IT workforce, the new management practices and forms of work introduced in IT workspaces, and the connections between IT and the middle class in an overarching and coherent fashion.

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/reengineering-india-9780199461486?cc=in&lang=en&#

 

Website : Public Works Department History of services, Burma 1910-1947

The purpose is to briefly document the history of the Public Works Department (P.W.D.) from about 1910 to 1947 and to give some insight in respect to:
· The Engineers
·  The infrastructure projects of the time

The basis is historic reports available from resources published on the internet and the author’s observations of the period.  The author’s father was a Sub Divisional Officer of the P.W.D. from 1922 to 1955

http://www.angloburmeselibrary.com/public-works-department.html

Blog British Library : Engineering a career in India

“Copy despatches to India on the results of the final examinations” – a somewhat dry description of a file from the Public Works Department of the India Office.  It obscures the fact that the contents offer fascinating glimpses into the world of late Victorian technical education and the talents (or lack thereof) of the young men who underwent training in Britain before taking up positions in India. They passed through various courses of instruction at the Royal Indian Engineering College at Cooper’s Hill in Surrey, which opened in 1872.”

http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/untoldlives/2014/05/engineering-a-career-in-india.html

Book : The Indian Middle Class – OUP 2016

9780199466795

Part of Oxford India Short Introductions

Surinder S. Jodhka & Aseem Prakash

Who exactly are the middle classes in India? What role do they play in contemporary Indian politics and society, and what are their historical and cultural moorings? The authors of this volume argue that the middle class has largely been understood as an ‘income/ economic category’, but the term has a broader social and conceptual history, globally as well as in India. It is this conceptual and social history of the Indian middle class that the book analytically elaborates.

https://india.oup.com/product/the-indian-middle-class-9780199466795?

Review Essay : A New History of India’s Railways

By Ian J. Kerr, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

The publication of Ritika Prasad’s (2015b) Tracks of Change: Railways and Everyday Life in Colonial India marks the maturation of a trend present in the historiography of South Asian railways since the turn of the current millennium. This trend has seen some historians give much more attention to the multidimensional ways in which the railways were central to the making of modern India. Some of the new studies mentioned below are in the form of recently completed PhD theses which, I expect—because they all represent impressive examples of interesting scholarship—to emerge as good books during the next couple of years or so. As an impressive corpus of new research and writing the books, articles and theses that populate this trend deserve to be labelled a new history of India’s railways.

See more at: http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/19/review-article/chugging-unfamiliar-stations.html#sthash.nZeQMRVM.dpuf

Book : Engineering War and Peace in Modern Japan, 1868-1964

Naval, aeronautic, and mechanical engineers played a powerful part in the military buildup of Japan in the early and mid-twentieth century. They belonged to a militaristic regime and embraced the importance of their role in it. Takashi Nishiyama examines the impact of war and peace on technological transformation during the twentieth century. He is the first to study the paradoxical and transformative power of Japan’s defeat in World War II through the lens of engineering.

Nishiyama asks: How did authorities select and prepare young men to be engineers? How did Japan develop curricula adequate to the task (and from whom did the country borrow)? Under what conditions? What did the engineers think of the planes they built to support Kamikaze suicide missions? But his study ultimately concerns the remarkable transition these trained engineers made after total defeat in 1945. How could the engineers of war machines so quickly turn to peaceful construction projects such as designing the equipment necessary to manufacture consumer products? Most important, they developed new high-speed rail services, including the Shinkansen Bullet Train. What does this change tell us not only about Japan at war and then in peacetime but also about the malleability of engineering cultures?

Nishiyama aims to counterbalance prevalent Eurocentric/Americentric views in the history of technology.  Engineering War and Peace in Modern Japan, 1868–1964 sets the historical experience of one country’s technological transformation in a larger international framework by studying sources in six different languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. The result is a fascinating read for those interested in technology, East Asia, and international studies. Nishiyama’s work offers lessons to policymakers interested in how a country can recover successfully after defeat.

Takashi Nishiyama is an assistant professor of history at the State University of New York, Brockport.