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Today, the engineering profession, more than any other, seems to embody the transformations which affect contemporary India. It simultaneously symbolizes the rise of the hypothetical « middle classes » and the positioning of India as an emerging power in the international job market, since the country has become one of the preferred destinations of large technological firms. Each year, India awards 3,50,000 engineering degrees. Continue reading

Was your (great-) grandfather a Bombay PWD engineer during the colonial period? Share documents, images and stories

As part of an Indo-French project on the history and sociology of Indian Engineers, I am working on the Indian personnel of the Public Works Department of the Bombay Presidency from c. 1850 to c. 1950.

If your (great-) grandfather happened to be an engineer in this Department (please check the following table which lists the names, dates of birth, etc. of engineers employed in the PWD at that time), I will be happy to share with you the details I have collected in the archives about his career. And I would also be more than interested to learn about your family history.

Please feel free to contact me at the following address: vanessacaru@hotmail.com for more information and to circulate this call. Thank you!

Photography: Bust of C. M. Murzban, Murzban Colony, Tardeo, erected in 1936 ©AbodhAras  Continue reading

“Engineers who read accounts”. Technical and managerial knowledge from the standpoint of cost accounting (1850-1950)

Call for papers for a special issue of Cahiers d’Histoire du Cnam

“Engineers who read accounts”. Technical and managerial knowledge from the standpoint of cost accounting (1850-1950)

 edited by Marco Bertilorenzi (DISSGEA, University of Padua) and Ferruccio Ricciardi (CNRS, Lise-Cnam)

Since the second half of the 19th century, engineers’ tasks have been progressively re-oriented to help the rationalisation of supplies, of flows and of human capital. This transition from a mere technical level role to another in which managerial capabilities were included happened in the midst of a broad transformation of the industrial economy and, more specifically, in sectors such as the mining and steel industries. It is no coincidence that at the beginning of the 20th century, two engineers – Frederick Winslow Taylor et Henri Fayol – significantly contributed to the casting of the conceptual kernel of the new science of modern management. Workforce administration went hand in hand with the management of resources, linking the ability to administer current business with skills in forecasting and anticipating. This new management knowledge – still blurred and not yet formalised – was equipped with a range of new tools, such as for instance Gantt charts, flow charts and descriptive forms of job positions. Among these new tools, cost accounting had a special place because it served both to guide the enterprise and to manage the workforce. The organisational needs of the big enterprise included the necessity of knowing and taking control over costs by anticipation, and contributing to the definition of production and investment plans. Both in France and abroad, engineers played a central role in the managerial transformation of the enterprise. In this special issue of the Cahiers d’histoire du Cnam, we aim to gather contributions concerning the relationship between engineers and cost accounting during the historical development of major industrial enterprise (1850-1950).

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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&#

 

Panel, ECSAS Warsaw 2016 : Technology, technicians and the state in South Asia

ECSAS logoEuropean Conference on South Asian Studies, Warsaw, 27-30th July 2016

Technology, technicians and the state in South Asia: political and social uses of technical knowledge

Convenors : Vanessa Caru (CNRS) & Bérénice Girard (EHESS Paris)

This panel invites reflexions and case studies on the political and social uses of technology in South Asia. Technology is here understood in an extensive manner to include different types of technical knowledge, practices and tools. The centrality of technology in government policies has been widely discussed in contemporary research. This panel would like to discuss this centrality while adopting a historical perspective on the evolving political use of technology and a specific focus on South Asia.

In the years following Independence, technology was conceived as a central tool to further the economic development and social policies of South Asian countries, and technical elites were offered important roles in the implementation of technocratic development programs. The present context of liberalisation and redefinition of the role of the State seems however to have brought both new uses and actors, as well as changes in the modes of interaction between States and technologies. We invite papers discussing this dynamic, and especially welcome case studies focusing on the specific use and place of technology in social policies. We further invite papers looking at processes of defining politically pertinent technologies, as well as detailed papers on the interaction and relationship between the different technical professional groups and the State. Finally, we also invite reflexions and case studies on how technology affects States’ prerogatives, balances of power and control over political territories and spaces in South Asia.

Papers : 

Stefan Tetzlaff (EHESS-CNRS, Paris), State Policy, Technical Knowledge and Manpower Requirements: The Case of the Automobile Industry and its Workforce in India After Independence (c. 1947-2010)

Champaka Rajagopal (University of Amsterdam), The State’s Attributes of a Firm? Combining Welfare and Growth Goals: Regional Infrastructure PPP Projects in India

Klara Feldes (Humboldt University Berlin), Technology in the nexus of ‘tradition’ and ‘modernity’- the example of the Indian River Interlinking Project 

Shivani Kapoor (Jawaharlal Nehru University), ‘Something Smells Bad’ – Caste, Technology and Leatherwork in India

More infos on the panel available here

Programme of the conference available here

International conference, 20-21/06/2016 : What do consultants do to the social world?

International Conference, 20th & 21st June 2016, EHESS Paris

What do consultants do to the social world? Properties, practices and contributions of ‘consulting’ to the construction of reality

What do consultants do to the social world - ProgramWhat do consultants do to the social world - Program - 2

Organised by Isabel BONICLE GOFF (University of Lausanne, Centre en Etudes Genre, Switzerland, Centre Maurice Halbwachs, Paris), Vincent MOENECLAEY (University of Versailles\Saint\Quentin\en\Yvelines, Laboratoire Printemps), and Sophie POCHIC (CNRS, Ecole Normale Supérieure, EHESS, Centre Maurice Halbwachs, Paris)

What do consultants do to the social world – Program