Category Archives: 1. Books

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

Book : The Technological Indian

The Technological Indian

Ross Bassett

“In the late 1800s, Indians seemed to be a people left behind by the Industrial Revolution, dismissed as “not a mechanical race.” Today Indians are among the world’s leaders in engineering and technology. In this international history spanning nearly 150 years, Ross Bassett—drawing on a unique database of every Indian to graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology between its founding and 2000—charts their ascent to the pinnacle of high-tech professions.

As a group of Indians sought a way forward for their country, they saw a future in technology. Bassett examines the tensions and surprising congruences between this technological vision and Mahatma Gandhi’s nonindustrial modernity. India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, sought to use MIT-trained engineers to build an India where the government controlled technology for the benefit of the people. In the private sector, Indian business families sent their sons to MIT, while MIT graduates established India’s information technology industry.

By the 1960s, students from the Indian Institutes of Technology (modeled on MIT) were drawn to the United States for graduate training, and many of them stayed, as prominent industrialists, academics, and entrepreneurs. The MIT-educated Indian engineer became an integral part of a global system of technology-based capitalism and focused less on India and its problems—a technological Indian created at the expense of a technological India.”

Book : Impossible Engineering

k8911Impossible Engineering: Technology and Territoriality on the Canal du Midi

Chandra Mukerji

The Canal du Midi, which threads through southwestern France and links the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, was an astonishing feat of seventeenth-century engineering–in fact, it was technically impossible according to the standards of its day. Impossible Engineering takes an insightful and entertaining look at the mystery of its success as well as the canal’s surprising political significance. The waterway was a marvel that connected modern state power to human control of nature just as surely as it linked the ocean to the sea. Continue reading

Book : Engineers and the Making of Francoist Regime

 In this book, Lino Camprubí argues that  science and technology were at the very center of the building of Franco’s Spain. Previous histories of early Francoist science and technology have described scientists and engineers as working “under” Francoism, subject to censorship and bound by politically mandated research agendas. Camprubí offers a different perspective, considering instead scientists’ and engineers’ active roles in producing those political mandates. Many scientists and engineers had been exiled, imprisoned, or executed by the regime. Camprubí argues that those who remained made concrete the mission of “redemption” that Franco had invented for himself. This gave them the opportunity to become key actors—and mid-level decision makers—within the regime.

Camprubí describes a series of projects across Spain undertaken by the civil engineers and agricultural scientists who placed themselves at the center of their country’s forced modernization. These include a coal silo, built in 1953, viewed as an embodiment of Spain’s industrialized landscape; links between laboratories, architects, and the national Catholic church (and between technology and authoritarian control); vertically organized rice production and research on genetics; river management and the contested meanings of self-sufficiency; and the circulation of construction standards by mobile laboratories as an engine for European integration. Separately, each chapter offers a fascinating microhistory that illustrates the coevolution of Francoist science, technology, and politics. Taken together, they reveal networks of people, institutions, knowledge, artifacts, and technological systems woven together to form a new state.

References: 1. Books

Updated 19th December 2011

Since 2010

Atal, Y. (ed.) 2009. Sociology and Social Anthropology in India. New Delhi: Indian Council of Social Science Research.

Bairy, R. S. 2010. Being Brahmin, Being Modern. Exploring the Lives of Caste Today. New Delhi: Routledge.

Banerjee, R. and Muley, V. P. 2010. Engineering Education in India. Mumbai: Macmillan.

Baviskar, A. and Ray, R. 2010. Elite and Everyman: The Cultural Politics of the Indian Middle Classes. Delhi: Routledge.

Biswas, G., Chopra, K. L., Jha, C.S. and D.V. Singh. 2010. Profile of Engineering Education in India: Status, Concerns and Recommendations. New Delhi: Indian National Academy of Engineering, Narosa Publishing House.

Deb, S. 2011. The Beautiful and the Damned Life in the New India. New Delhi: Penguins Books India.

Fernandes, L. 2005. India’s new middle class: Democratic politics in an era of economic liberalization. Minneapolis; London: University of Minnesota Press.

Ganguly-Scrase, R. and Scrase T. J. 2009. Globalisation and the Middle Classes in India. The Social and cultural impact of neoliberal reforms. London: Routledge.

Jaffrelot, J., van der Veer, P. (eds). 2008. Patterns of Middle Class Consumption in India and China. New Delhi: Sage Publications.

Joshi, S. (2001). Fractured modernity: Making of a middle class in colonial North India. London; New York, Oxford University Press.

Kapur, D. 2010. Diaspora, Development, and Democracy: The Domestic Impact of International Migration from India. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Kumar, D., Damodaran, V. & D’Souza, R. (eds). 2010. The British Empire and the Natural World: Environmental Encounters in South Asia. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Naik, B. M. and Kandilkar, W. S. 2010. Higher & Technical Education: Book of Knowledge. New Delhi: Gyan Publishing House.

Nair, S. (Forthcoming 2013) Moving with the Times: Gender, Status and Migration of Malayali Nurses. New Delhi: Routledge.

Ramnath, R. 2011. S. Chandrasekhar: Man of Science. Foreword by A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. New Delhi: Harper Collins.

Saavala, M. 2010. Middle Classes Moralities. Everyday struggle over belonging and prestige in India. Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan.

Saini, A. 2011. Geek Nation. How Indian Science is taking over the World. London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Subramanian, D. 2010. Telecommunications Industry in India: State, Business and Labor in a Global Economy. New Delhi: Social Science Press.

Shyamsundar, R. K. and Pai, M. A. (eds). 2011. Homi Bhabha and the Computer Revolution. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Vir, D, Den, Sen, D, Patnaik, P. and Hazra A. K. (eds). 2011. Sixty Years in the Service of the Nation: An Illustrated History of IIT Kharagpur. Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan.


Aneesh, A. 2006. Virtual Migration: The Programming of Globalization. New Delhi: Pearson Longman.

Deb, S. 2004. The IITians: The Story of a Remarkable Indian Institution and how its Alumni are Reshaping the World. New Delhi: Viking Penguin.

Gulhati, S. K. 2007. The IITs: Slumping or Soaring? New Delhi: Macmillan.

Gasskov, V. et al. 2003. Industrial Training Institutes of India: The Efficiency Study Report. ILO Subregional Office for South Asia. New Delhi: ILO.

Khadria, B. 2004. Migration of Highly Skilled Indians: Case Studies of IT and Health Professionals. STI Working Papers 6, April. Paris: OECD.

Mahedevan, Madhavi S. (ed). 2002. The Madras Sappers: An Enduring Legacy. Bangalore: Madras Engineer Group and Centre.

Manchanda, R. 2008. Monastery, Sanctuary, Laboratory: 50 Years of IIT-Bombay. Mumbai: Macmillan.

Mukherjee, S. 2009. Nationalism, Education and Migrant Identities: The England-Returned. London: Routledge.

Parthasarathi, A. 2007. Technology at the Core. Science and Technology with Indira Gandhi. New Delhi: Pearson Longman.

Salwi, D. P.2003. M. Visvesvaraya. Engineer & Nation Builder. New Delhi: Rupa & Co.

Shanker, D. 2008. Social Mobility among Professionals in Bangalore City. VDM Verlag Dr. Müller.

Sharma, D. C. 2009. The Long Revolution: the Birth and Growth of India’s IT Industry. New Delhi: Harper Collins Publishers India.

Subbarao, E. C. 2008. An Eye for Excellence: Fifty years of IIT Kanpur. New Delhi: Harper Collins Publishers India.

Upadhya, C. and Vasavi, A. R. 2008. In an Outpost of the Global Economy: Work and Workers in India’s Information Technology Industry. New Delhi: Routledge Talylor & Francis Group.

Varma, R. 2006. Harbinger of Global Change: India’s Techno-Immigrants to the United States. Maryland: Lexington Books.

Xiang, B. 2007. Global ‘Body Shopping: An Indian Labor System in the Information Technology Industry. Princeton, NJ & Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Zachariach, B. 2005. Developing India: An Intellectual and Social History c. 1930-1950. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Gandhi, J. S. 1994. Professions, Law and Social Change, New Delhi: Har-Anand Publications.

Jakatdar, V. 1990. Destiny Makers of Indian Industry: A Study of Scientists and Engineers. London: Sangam Books.

Johnson, W. 1990. Benjamin Robins, 1707-1751: Opting Not to be a Commissary for Acadia but a Fortifications Engineer in East India. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Khadria, B. 1999. The Migration of Knowledge Workers: Second-Generation Effects of India’s Brain Drain. New Delhi: Sage Publications.

Kirpal, V. and Gupta, M. 1999. Equality through Reservations. Jaipur: Rawat Publications.

Kumar, D. 1991. Science and Empire: Essays in Indian Context, 1700-1947. Delhi: Anamika Prakashan.

Macleod, R. and Kumar, D. (eds). 1995. Technology and the Raj: Western Technology and Technical Transfers to India 1700-1947. Delhi: Sage.

Mukhopadhyay, C. and Seymour, S. (eds). 1994. Women, Education and Family Structure in India. Boulder: Westview Press.

Parikh, P. P. and Sukhatme, S. P. 1992. Women Engineers in India. A Study of the Participation of Women in Engineering Profession. Mumbai: Indian Institute of Technology.

Paul, J. J. 1991. The Legal Profession in Colonial South India. Bombay: Oxford University Press.

Sukhatme, S. P. (1994). The real brain drain. Hyderabad, Orient Longman Limited.

Vaux, P. 1994. Bengal Engineer. Edinburgh: Pentland Press.


Bawa, J. S., Lt. Gen. 1980. History of the Corps of Engineers. Compiled under the direction and authority of the Engineer-in-Chief, Army Headquarters. New Delhi: Palit & Palit Publishers.

Gandhi, J. S. 1982. Lawyers and Touts: A Study in the Sociology of Legal Professions. New Delhi: Hindustan Publication.

Headrick, D. R. 1981. Tools of Empire: Technology and European Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Headrick, D. R. 1988. The Tentacles of Progress: Technology Transfer in the Age of Imperialism, 1850-1940. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lal, S. K., Khanna, K., Chandani, A. and Nahar, U. R. (eds.) 1988. Readings in the Sociology of the Professions. Delhi: Gian Publishing House.

Madan, T. N. (eds.) 1980. Doctors and society: Three Asian case studies- India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka. New Delhi: Vikas.

Mital, K. 1986. The History of Thomason College of India, Roorkee. University of Roorkee Press.

Omprakash, S. 1986. Caste and politics in Indian Education. New Delhi: Deep and Deep Publications.

Sharma, K. L. 1984. Sociology of Law and Legal Profession.A Study or Relations between Lawyers and their Clients. Jaipur: Rawat Publications.


Das Gupta, U. and Chattopadhyaya, D.P. (eds.). 2010. Science and Modern India: An Institutional History, 1784-1947, Vol. 15, 451-471. Delhi: Pearson.

Dubey, M. S. 1975. Social Mobility among the Professions. Bombay: Popular Prakashan.

Niland, J. R. 1970. The Asian engineering Brain-Drain: A Study of International Relocation into the US from India, China, Korea, Thailand and Japan. Massachusetts: Lexington.


Cameron, J. G. 1960. The Royal Indian Engineering College Cooper’s Hill, 1870-1906, Copper Hill’s Society.

Mishra, B. B. 1961. The Indian Middle Classes: Their Growth in Modern Times. London and New York: Oxford University Press.