The Birth of an Indian Profession. Engineers, Industry and the State, 1900-1947.
by Aparajith Ramnath
Oxford University Press, India, 2017
Charting the development of the engineering profession in India from 1900 to 1947, The Birth of an Indian Profession is the first synoptic history of engineers in modern India. Through detailed case studies of public works, railways, and industrial engineers, this book argues that changes in the profession were both caused by and contributed to industrialization in the country.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to circulate this call. Thank you!
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).
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 →
“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?… “
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
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Élites du Japon moderne : traducteurs, médecins, ingénieurs et architectes
Journée d’étude internationale organisée par
Nicolas Fiévé (CRCAO/EPHE) et Aleksandra Kobiljski (CRJ/EHESS)
Jeudi 4 juin 2015 de 9h15 à 18h30
EHESS, Salle 640, 6e étage
190 avenue de France, 75013 Paris
9.15 Welcome and introduction
Aleksandra Kobiljski & Nicolas Fiévé
9.30-10.30 Concepts and frameworks
Guillaume Carré (EHESS, CRJ), Social Margins and the Notion of Elite in Early Modern Japan
Shimizu Yuiichirō (Keiō University), Reformatting Elite in Modern Japan
Chair: Fabien Simon (Université Paris Diderot, ICT)
Annick Horiuchi (Université Paris Diderot, CRCAO), Translators of Dutch Books in the Early Nineteenth-century Japan: the Emergence of an Elite
Ruselle Meade (University of Tōkyō), Translators as Elites in Meiji Japan: The Case of Yamagata Teisaburō
Discussant: Fabienne Jagou (EFEO, IAO) Continue reading →