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
“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.”
ENGIND Seminar 17th June 2016, EHESS, Paris, Room N°662, 2-5 pm
Odile Henry, Mathieu Ferry
Educating the engineering elite.
Classifications and classification categories in the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs)
Since Independence Engineering studies have been seen as a force capable of transforming Indian society, with advanced technology being central to the development model. The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) hence particularly embody the values of modern India. Exempted from the application of reservation policies to start with, IITs tend to be perceived as places that produce a meritocratic elite, freed from the contingencies related to caste and their political exploitation. The success of former IITs students in the US computer industry in the 1980s and the liberalization of the Indian economy in the 1990s tend to make IITs a “brand” associated with Indian global competitiveness and the values of a private sector disembedded from the social and political spheres.
Based on an ongoing fieldwork in one of these technical elite education institutions, we will question this meritocratic model.
The analysis of the process of admission, orientation towards streams (degrees and discipline), selection during the training, and placement on the labor market, highlights the types of hierarchy that exist within the student population and the trends that contribute to the global reproduction of social inequalities.
By Shirish B. Patel
When selecting a lawyer or a doctor, no one asks for competitive bidding, and then awards the work to the lowest bidder. But this is how government and some private organisations select their civil engineering consultants.
On the death of passionate civil engineering, Shirish B Patel in Perspectives, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 51, Issue No. 20, 14 May, 2016 :
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
Talk by Dr. Stefan Tetzlaff, CEIAS-CNRS, ENGIND
“Motor Lorry vs. Bullock Cart: Road Transport between Modernizing Agents and Peasant Households in Central and Western India During the Great Depression”
Time: 2.00 p.m.
Venue: Department of History, Ambedkar Bhavan, Savitribai Phule Pune University.
The Technological Indian
“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.”
Despite Mumbai’s position as India’s financial, economic, and cultural capital, water is chronically unavailable for rich and poor alike. Mumbai’s dry taps are puzzling, given that the city does not lack for either water or financial resources. In Pipe Politics, Contested Waters, Lisa Björkman shows how an elite dream to transform Mumbai into a “world class” business center has wreaked havoc on the city’s water pipes. In rich ethnographic detail, Pipe Politics explores how the everyday work of getting water animates and inhabits a penumbra of infrastructural activity—of business, brokerage, secondary markets, and sociopolitical networks—whose workings are reconfiguring and rescaling political authority in the city. Mumbai’s increasingly illegible and volatile hydrologies, Björkman argues, are lending infrastructures increasing political salience just as actual control over pipes and flows becomes contingent on dispersed and intimate assemblages of knowledge, power, and material authority. These new arenas of contestation reveal the illusory and precarious nature of the project to remake Mumbai in the image of Shanghai or Singapore and gesture instead toward the highly contested futures and democratic possibilities of the actually existing city.
2015 Duke University Press
About the Author
Lisa Björkman is Assistant Professor of Urban and Public Affairs at University of Louisville, and Research Scholar at CETREN (Transregional Research Network), University of Göttingen.
Technology, technicians and the state in South Asia: political and social uses of technical knowledge
The 24th ECSAS (European Conference on South Asian Studies) will take place at the University of Warsaw (Poland) from 27 to 30 July 2016.
Berenice Girard (EHESS Paris) email
Vanessa Caru (CNRS ) email
Mail All Convenors
This panel invites reflexions and case studies on the political and social uses of technology in South Asia, to discuss its centrality in government policies. Technology is here understood in an extensive manner, to include different types of technical knowledge, practices and tools.
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.