Tag Archives: India

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

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



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

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

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.”


ENGIND Seminar : 17/06/16, EHESS Paris, Educating the Engineering Elite

IIT KanpurENGIND 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.


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 : 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.”


Séminaire : Que fait la figure de l’ingénieur au monde social en Inde? 19/02/2016

Séminaire de recherche IDHES-Département de sociologie

Lignes d’effervescence en sociologie des groupes professionnels

Première séance : Vendredi 19 février 10h-12h30

Salle T11, bâtiment T, Université de Nanterre

Roland Lardinois

(Centre d’études de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud, CNRS)

Que fait la figure de l’ingénieur au monde social en Inde ?

Résumé : La prolifération des écoles d’ingénieurs en Inde depuis une vingtaine d’années, la compétition accrue pour parvenir à entrer dans les écoles les plus prestigieuses comme les Indian Institute of Technology, le développement sans précédent de centres de préparation (coaching centers) aux concours d’entrée dans ces écoles professionnelles (ingénieurs et médecine), la mise en place d’un système parascolaire organisé sur un mode quasi-industriel pour s’adresser à ces milliers de candidats potentiels, le poids des formations informatiques liées à l’expansion du secteur des technologies de l’information, l’exemplarité donnée par quelques grandes firmes multinationales comme Infosys, tout cela contribue à interroger ce que la figure de l’ingénieur fait à la société indienne dans un contexte de libéralisation économique où tout service éducatif se monnaie sur un marché libre qui n’épargne aucun secteur de l’économie que l’Etat peine à encadrer.

Le séminaire « Lignes d’effervescence en sociologie des groupes professionnels »

Dans le travail de tout chercheur, il existe des domaines familiers, dans lesquels une solide expérience a été acquise, et des domaines en cours d’exploration, où des investigations ont été engagées mais n’ont pas encore donné lieu à des connaissances reconnues et stabilisées. Pour le dire à la manière de T. Kuhn, l’activité de recherche comporte des aspects de « science normale » et des points d’effervescence, des pistes dans lesquelles on s’aventure pour aborder un domaine nouveau ou s’essayer à des cadres théoriques inhabituels. C’est à la présentation de tels chantiers, à ces objets ou perspectives à l’état d’esquisse qu’est consacré ce séminaire : l’auteur-e sera invité-e à faire part de ses réflexions, ses choix et ses hésitations, sans cacher les difficultés ou les doutes qu’il rencontre.


Le séminaire est conçu à l’attention des étudiant-e-s du master « Etudes et recherches sociologiques, des chercheur-e-s de l’IDHES, des membres du département de sociologie de Nanterre, mais il est ouvert à l’ensemble des chercheur-e-s et doctorant-e-s intéressé-e-s.

Séance suivante

Le 11 mars 2016, Reinhard Gressel (IFSTTAR) et Charles Gadea (IDHES) : « Les professionnels mobiles. Une problématique en mouvement »


Valérie Boussard (IDHES) valerie.boussard@u-paris10.fr et Charles Gadea (IDHES) charles .gadea@u-paris10.fr

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

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

Short Abstract

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.

Long Abstract

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.

Propose paper

Book : Waste management in India and Brazil

1430404312La ruée vers l’ordure. Conflits dans les mines urbaines de déchets

Jérémie Cavé


“Qu’est-ce qu’un déchet aujourd’hui dans une ville ordinaire de pays émergent, ce que les habitants jettent ou bien ce que personne ne récupère ? Cet ouvrage se focalise sur les conflits d’appropriation auxquels les déchets donnent lieu à Vitória (Brésil) et à Coimbatore (Inde). En déployant une écologie politique, l’auteur dévoile un renversement en cours : les déchets sont de plus en plus perçus comme des ressources potentielles et les villes comme de véritables « mines urbaines ».”

Pour en savoir plus : http://www.pur-editions.fr/couvertures/1430404513_doc.pdf

Call for papers : International conference on the sociology of elites in contemporary India

New Delhi, India, 4-5 January 2016.

Download the document

Elites can be broadly defined as “those who have vastly disproportionate control over or access to a resource”[1]. The study of this privileged fraction of society currently experiences a revival that can partly be explained by the rising level of inequalities. The “Occupy Wall Street” movement of 2011 shed light on this renewed interest of scholars and activists, who make an extensive use of the latest researches produced by social scientists. More recently, the successs of Thomas Piketty’s book helped to shed light on the role this fraction of society plays in the production of inequalities. A whole body of quantitative and qualitative research has been produced by researchers over the last few years, including prosopographic studies of business leaders, Multiple Correspondence Analyses of the field of economic power, historical studies of the business elites, network analyses of corporate interlocks, qualitative studies of the formal and informal modes of sociability among the elite, ethnography of elite clubs, studies of conspicuous consumption, etc. From the early works of Vilfredo Pareto, Gaetano Mosca, Thorstein Veblen and C. Wright Mills to today’s researches, the sociology of elites can draw on a very rich and diverse body of works. Nonetheless, the scholarship on the elite in India is very limited. The well established traditions of studying social networks of the elite, their educational background, their biographies, their family life, their exclusive social clubs, their culture or their neighborhoods have not still been appropriated by scholars working on the Indian society and very few researchers are currently trying to fill this gap. This is all the more surprising as India is currently the World’s third economic power in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (and the 10th in terms of GDP nominal value). To give just one figure, according to the Wall Street Journal, in 2013, India had a total of 182,000 millionaires (in dollars)[2]. Continue reading

Book : Imperial Technoscience by Amit Prasad


The origin of modern science is often located in Europe and the West. This Euro/West-centrism relegates emergent practices elsewhere to the periphery, undergirding analyses of contemporary transnational science and technology with traditional but now untenable hierarchical categories. In this book, Amit Prasad examines features of transnationality in science and technology through a study of MRI research and development in the United States, Britain, and India. In an analysis that is both theoretically nuanced and empirically robust, Prasad unravels the entangled genealogies of MRI research, practice, and culture in these three countries.
Prasad follows sociotechnical trails in relation to five aspects of MRI research: invention, industrial development, market, history, and culture. He first examines the well-known dispute between American scientists Paul Lauterbur and Raymond Damadian over the invention of MRI, then describes the post-invention emergence of the technology, as the center of MRI research shifted from Britain to the U.S; the marketing of the MRI and the transformation of MRI research into a corporate-powered “Big Science”; and MRI research in India, beginning with work in India’s nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) laboratories in the 1940s. Finally, he explores the different dominant technocultures in each of the three countries, analyzing scientific cultures as shifting products of transnational histories rather than static products of national scientific identities and cultures. Prasad’s analysis offers not only an innovative contribution to current debates within science and technology studies but also an original postcolonial perspective on the history of cutting-edge medical technology.


Publication : Engineers in India : Industrialisation, Indianisation and the State, 1900-47

Aparajith Ramnath, Engineers in India : Industrialisation, Indianisation and the State, 1900-47. Ph.D. Thesis. Imperial College London,  2013

“This thesis offers a collective portrait of an important group of scientific and technical practitioners in India from 1900 to 1947: professional engineers. It focuses on engineers working in three key sectors: public works, railways and private industry. Based on a range of little-used sources, it charts the evolution of the profession in terms of the composition, training, employment patterns and work culture of its members. The thesis argues that changes in the profession were both caused by and contributed to two important, contested transformations in interwar Indian society: the growth of large-scale private industry (industrialisation), and the increasing proportion of ‘native’ Indians in government services and private firms (Indianisation). Continue reading