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). Engineers in the public works and railways played a crucial role as officers of the colonial state, as revealed by debates on Indianisation in these sectors. Engineers also enabled the emergence of large industrial enterprises, which in turn impacted the profession. Previously dominated by expatriate government engineers, the profession expanded, was considerably Indianised, and diversified to include industrial experts. Whereas the profession was initially oriented towards the imperial metropolis, a nascent Indian identity emerged in the interwar period. Throughout, the thesis studies British and Indian engineers in parallel. It also underscores the importance of studying the history of science, technology and medicine in twentieth-century India in relation to the heterogeneous, evolving colonial state. Finally, the focus on practitioners complements the existing historiographical emphasis on intellectuals’ debates on science, colonialism, modernity and nation.”

See Also :

Aparajith Ramnath, “Provincialisation, Indianisation, and the Ideal Public Works Engineer, 1900-40”, Paper presented at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Mohali, 2012

Aparajith Ramnath, “A New Institution for Engineers: Change and Continuity in the Profession in India, c. 1900-1935”, paper discussed at the 4th European South Asia PhD Workshop, Heidelberg University, 2010

List of publications available online.

Book : Reigning the River

Anne Rademacher, Reigning the River: Urban Ecologies and Political Transformation in Kathmandu. Durham : Duke University Press, 2011

“A major contribution to the nascent anthropology of urban environments, Reigning the River illuminates the complexities of river restoration in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital and one of the fastest-growing cities in South Asia. In this rich ethnography, Anne M. Rademacher explores the ways that urban riverscape improvement involved multiple actors, each constructing ideals of restoration through contested histories and ideologies of belonging. She examines competing understandings of river restoration, particularly among bureaucrats in state and conservation-development agencies, cultural heritage activists, and advocates for the security of tens of thousands of rural-to-urban migrants settled along the exposed riverbed. Rademacher conducted research during a volatile period in Nepal’s political history. As clashes between Maoist revolutionaries and the government intensified, the riverscape became a site of competing claims to a capital city that increasingly functioned as a last refuge from war-related violence. In this time of intense flux, efforts to ensure, create, or imagine ecological stability intersected with aspirations for political stability. Throughout her analysis, Rademacher emphasizes ecology as an important site of dislocation, entitlement, and cultural meaning.”

See Also :

Anne M. Rademacher and K. Sivaramakrishnan, Ecologies of Urbanism in India: Metropolitan Civility and Sustainability. New York : Columbia University Press, 2013

Aditya Batra, “River Restoration is not just an ecological act. Interview with Anne M. Rademacher”, Down To Earth, April 30 2012. Available online.

Programme of upcoming Lectures (May-June 2013) at the EHESS Paris available here. 

Books : Technocracy in East and Southeast Asia

Joel Andreas, Rise of the Red Engineers. The Cultural Revolution and the Origins of China’s New Class. Stanford : Stanford University Press, 2009

“Rise of the Red Engineers explains the tumultuous origins of the class of technocratic officials who rule China today. In a fascinating account, author Joel Andreas chronicles how two mutually hostile groups—the poorly educated peasant revolutionaries who seized power in 1949 and China’s old educated elite—coalesced to form a new dominant class. After dispossessing the country’s propertied classes, Mao and the Communist Party took radical measures to eliminate class distinctions based on education, aggravating antagonisms between the new political and old cultural elites. Ultimately, however, Mao’s attacks on both groups during the Cultural Revolution spurred inter-elite unity, paving the way—after his death—for the consolidation of a new class that combined their political and cultural resources. This story is told through a case study of Tsinghua University, which—as China’s premier school of technology—was at the epicenter of these conflicts and became the party’s preferred training ground for technocrats, including many of China’s current leaders.”


Hiromi Mizuno, Science for the Empire. Scientific Nationalism in Modern Japan. Stanford : Stanford University Press, 2009

“This fascinating study examines the discourse of science in Japan from the 1920s to the 1940s in relation to nationalism and imperialism. How did Japan, with Shinto creation mythology at the absolute core of its national identity, come to promote the advancement of science and technology? Using what logic did wartime Japanese embrace both the rationality that denied and the nationalism that promoted this mythology? Focusing on three groups of science promoters—technocrats, Marxists, and popular science proponents—this work demonstrates how each group made sense of apparent contradictions by articulating its politics through different definitions of science and visions of a scientific Japan. The contested, complex political endeavor of talking about and promoting science produced what the author calls “scientific nationalism,” a powerful current of nationalism that has been overlooked by scholars of Japan, nationalism, and modernity.”


 See Also :

Kaiser Kuo, “Made in China. The Revenge of the Nerds”, TIME Magazine, June 27 2001. Available online.

Li Cheng & Lynn T. White, “China’s Technocratic Movement and the World Economic Herald”, Modern China, Vol.17 N.3, Jul. 1991

Takashi Shiraishi & Patricio N. Abinales, After the Crisis: Hegemony, Technocracy and Governance in Southeast Asia. Kyoto : Trans Pacific Press, 2005

Takashi Shiraishi, “Technocracy in Indonesia. A preliminary analysis”, RIETI Discussion Papers, 06-E-008, 2006. Available online.

Jungwon Yoon, “The technocratic Trend and its Implication in China,  Science & Technology in Society: An International Multidisciplinary Graduate Student Conference, Washington, DC, March 31-April 1, 2007. Available online.

Guy J. Pauker, “Are there Technocrats in Southeast Asia?”, Asian Survey, Vol.16 N.12, Dec. 1976

Richard Hooley, “The contribution of Technocrats to Development in Southeast Asia”, Asian Survey, Vol.16, N.12, Dec 1976

John James MacDougall, “The Technocratic Model Of Modernization : The Case of Indonesia’s New Order.”, Asian Survey, Vol.16, N.12, Dec. 1976

Laurence D. Stifel, “Technocrats and Modernization in Thailand”,  Asian Survey, Vol.16, N.12, Dec. 1976


Books : Environmental History in South Asia

Guha Ramachandra, The  unquiet woods (Twentieth Anniversary Edition): Ecological Change and Peasant Resistance in the Himalaya, New Delhi : Orient Blackswan, 2010

“Popular initiatives to halt deforestation in the Himalaya, such as the Chipko movement, are globally renowned. It is less well known that these movements have a history stretching back more than a hundred years. A proper understanding of this long duration within the forests of submontane North India required the marriage of two scholarly traditions: the sociology of peasant protest and the ecologically oriented study of history.
Twenty years ago there appeared on this subject an unknown author’s first book: The Unquiet Woods (1989) by Ramachandra Guha. Fairly quickly, the book came to be recognized as not just another study of dissenting peasants but as something of a classic which had willy nilly opened up a whole new field— environmental history in South Asia. While the monograph has as a consequence been continuously in print within India and in the West since then, its author has become a biographer and historian of international stature. In celebration of its twentieth year in print, The Unquiet Woods is now reissued with additional material: a new reflective preface by the author on the genesis and limitations of the book which set him off on the path of writerly success, as well as three freshly commissioned critical essays by major academic specialists. Taken together, this additional material situates the monograph and its influence within environmental history in India, Europe and Latin America, and the USA. This is a book for anyone interested in the history of India’s environment, forests and their dwellers, the varieties of colonial rule, and the specificities of rural rebellion. And it is a book for anyone interested in the writings of Ramachandra Guha.”


Laine Nicolas & Subha T.B. (eds), Nature, Environment and Society: Conservation, Governance and Transformation in India, New Delhi : Orient Blackswan, 2012

“The future of humanity lies uncertain as nature falls prey to the loot and plunder initiated in the name of development, growth and progress today. As the vast riches of the earth continue to be endangered, a global consciousness regarding the importance of natural resources, biodiversity, etc. is on the rise. Given such a scenario, what is required is further understanding of man’s interaction with the environment. This contributory volume examines the interrelationship between nature and society in South Asia. It focuses on four points: perception of natural resources during colonial rule, conservation of nature, role of governments in administering environment, and transformation of nature as a result of development or industrial projects. The book divided into three broad themes, analyses the major decisions taken in India with regard to environment after Independence and their consequences; the relationship between communities which consider natural environment as an essential part of their identity, and as a key factor for social, political and economical issues; and the urban explosion and/or the construction of infrastructure such as dams or roads that have impacted the relationship between different social groups and their territory. It also examines the set-up (policy and stakes), process and consequences (often the displacement of populations) of such projects in three different states of India. Offering a wide variety of case studies representing a large panel of approaches and methodologies from Sociology, Economics, History, Anthropology, and Development Studies, this volume will be an useful read for students and scholars of environmental studies, and NGOs working towards conserving nature.”


See Also :

Gadgil Madhav & Guha Ramachandra, This Fissured Land : An Ecological History of India, New Delhi : Oxford Unersity Press, 1992

Grove Richard, Damodaran Vinita & Sangwan Satpal, Nature and the Orient : The Environmental History of South and Southeast Asia, New Delhi : Oxford University Press, 2000


Books : Nuclear Power in India

Mathai Manu, Nuclear Power, Economic Development Discourse and the Environment. The Case of India, London ; New York : Routledge, 2013

“Nuclear power is often characterized as a “green technology.” Technologies are rarely, if ever, socially isolated artefacts. Instead, they materially represent an embodiment of values and priorities. Nuclear power is no different. It is a product of a particular political economy and the question is whether that political economy can helpfully engage with the challenge of addressing the environmental crisis on a finite, inequitable and shared planet. For developing countries like India, who are presently making infrastructure investments which will have long legacies, it is imperative that these investments wrestle with such questions and prove themselves capable of sufficiency, greater equality and inclusiveness. This book offers a critique of civilian nuclear power as a green energy strategy for India and develops and proposes an alternative “synergy for sustainability.” It situates nuclear power as a socio-technical infrastructure embodying a particular development discourse and practice of energy and economic development. The book reveals the political economy of this arrangement and examines the latter’s ability to respond to the environmental crisis. Manu V. Mathai argues that the existing overwhelmingly growth-focused, highly technology-centric approach for organizing economic activity is unsustainable and needs to be reformed. Within this imperative for change, nuclear power in India is found to be and is characterized as an “authoritarian technology.” Based on this political economy critique the book proposes an alternative, a synergy of ideas from the fields of development economics, energy planning and science, technology and society studies.”


Ramana M.V., The Power of Promise. Examinig Nuclear Energy in India, New Delhi: Penguin India, 2013

“Nuclear power has been held out as possibly the most important source of energy for India. And the dream of a nuclear powered India has been supported by huge financial budgets and high level political commitment for over six decades. Nuclear power has also been held out as safe, environmentally benign and cheap. Physicist and writer, M.V. Ramana shows that nuclear power has been more expensive than conventional forms of electricity generation, that the ever-present risk of catastrophic accidents is heightened by observed organizational inadequacies at nuclear facilities, and that existing nuclear fuel cycle facilities have been correlated with impacts on public health and the environment. He offers detailed information and analysis.”


Anderson Robert S., Nucleus and Nation. Scientists, International Network and Power in India, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 2010

“In 1974 India joined the elite roster of nuclear world powers when it exploded its first nuclear bomb. But the technological progress that facilitated that feat was set in motion many decades before, as India sought both independence from the British and respect from the larger world. Over the course of the twentieth century, India metamorphosed from a marginal place to a serious hub of technological and scientific innovation. It is this tale of transformation that Robert S. Anderson recounts in Nucleus and Nation. Tracing the long institutional and individual preparations for India’s first nuclear test and its consequences, Anderson begins with the careers of India’s renowned scientists—Meghnad Saha, Shanti Bhatnagar, Homi Bhabha, and their patron Jawaharlal Nehru—in the first half of the twentieth century before focusing on the evolution of the large and complex scientific community—especially Vikram Sarabhi—in the later part of the era. By contextualizing Indian debates over nuclear power within the larger conversation about modernization and industrialization, Anderson hones in on the thorny issue of the integration of science into the framework and self-reliant ideals of Indian nationalism. In this way, Nucleus and Nation is more than a history of nuclear science and engineering and the Indian Atomic Energy Commission; it is a unique perspective on the history of Indian nationhood and the politics of its scientific community.”


See Also :

Singh Swaran, “India’s Nuclear Problem”, The Hindu, 09 April 2013. Available online.

Singh Swaran, “India’s Nuclear Policy : Emerging New Trends”, Debats Asie, CAPE Paris, 28 March 2011. Available online.

Sovacool Benjamin,  Valentine Scott Victor, The national Politics of  Nuclear Power. Economics, Security and Governance. London ; New York : Routledge, 2012

Book: The Untiring Indian

 Shashi K. Gulati, The Untiring Indian : Lifestory of Mr. N. D. Gulhati: A Visionary Water Resources Engineer, New Delhi: MacMillan Publishers India, 2011

“A developing nation such as India is built by the untiring effort of thousands, rather, hundreds of thousands of its citizens. Sometimes circumstances demand that everyone work in concert, as Indians did under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi in their quest for independence from colonial rule. Most other times, however, it is groups of various sizes or just individuals who work untiringly in their respective sphere of activity. In a large, diverse and growing country like India, there are many spheres of activity that need nurturing to build the nation. Nation building does require that we work with national development as the prime objective. It calls for us to sacrifice, to shun smaller, self-serving goals and to focus on larger causes. It demands that we work with integrity, commitment and a genuine concern for others. Those that do are, or ought to be, our national heroes. It is they who should be our youth’s ‘role models’. Role models play a very significant role in modeling our lives.The shape that a nation takes is determined by the role models it chooses. Each of us needs to select our role model(s) with care, thought and due deliberation, and not just get stuck with those that are thrust at us day in and day out by a relentless, omnipresent media.India has produced many worthy statesmen, civil servants, entrepreneurs, industrialists, traders, teachers, philosophers, journalists, artists, entertainers, sportspersons, managers, lawyers, doctors, scientists and engineers. In their life times, their indomitable spirit and sustained diligence became an example for many around them to emulate. They are the worthy role models whose lives need to be documented so that in posterity, they continue to inspire.In this story of The Untiring Indian, readers, especially those involved in engineering a vibrant future for India – engineers, civil servants, diplomats, managers, teachers, entrepreneurs – will find a most worthy role model in Mr. N.D. Gulhati, a technocrat nonpareil.”

About the Author:

Shashi K.Gulhati the youngest child of Mr. N.D. Gulhati, graduated from MIT and returned to India to join the faculty of IIT Delhi (IITD) from where he retired seven years ago after serving for 40 years – 28 as Professor. He served as Head of Civil Engineering, as Dean of Students, as a member of IITD’s Board of Governors. A highly regarded professional, he served as a member of AICTE and President of the Indian Geotechnical Society. On leave from IITD, he served as the CEO of Educational Consultants India Ltd. (EdCIL)– a Government of India enterprise and transformed it into an efficient, professional, service oriented organization. EdCIL’s turnover increased multi-fold during his 5-year term. He has worked internationally as an engineer, an academician and also as an educational consultant. Currently, he consults and enjoys writing on issues in Education – his book on The IITs Slumping or Soaring, Macmillan 2007 has been highly acclaimed.”


“Part 1: Rising Scion of the Family • Lalaji and Bebeji • The Diary

Part 2: The Dependable Patriarch • Bringing up Kunti and the Kids • Kunti’s Ninjan • Boundless intellectual horizon • Do the right thing • Keep the mouth shut and eyes and ears open • Delighted and foresighted • Vacations are not for work • You Can Do It • Friend In Need • Gem Indeed

Part 3: Creatively Constructive • Brick by Brick • International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage • Indian Geotechnical Society • Sunder Nagar Association • The Gulhati Trust • Short Sentences and as Many as Needed • The ABC of good conduct • The Profile of an engineer • Corruption in India

Part 4: An Engineer Par Excellence • Throughput and Output • Negotiating with Pakistan and Others • A functional approach • The negotiators • On his fingertips • The fine points • A view worthy of respect • Happy to go back • No axe to grind • The press, the politician and the public • Treaty of five decades – Not a dispute • More Throughput and Output • Utilizing A very Valuable National Resource • Democracy in inaction • Bureaucracy in haphazard action • Nipping in the bud”


Review: Scholars and Prophets

« The Fascination for India », La Vie des idées, 11 March 2013

Review by Jules Naudet (Translated by Rohini Rangachari)

Roland Lardinois, Scholars and Prophets. Sociology of India from France 19th-20th Centuries. New Delhi: Social Science Press, 2013

“Since the 18th century, India has been portrayed in contradictory ways. While scholarly knowledge is based on the philological study of texts, literary Orientalism expresses its fascination for a society well-known to preserve the values of order and hierarchy. For Roland Lardinois the anthropology of Louis Dumont illustrates the ambiguity of these discourses.”



Books: Dams and Development in South Asia

Sanjeev Khagram, Dams and Development. Transnational Struggles for Water and Power. New York, Cornell University Press, 2004

“Big dams built for irrigation, power, water supply, and other purposes were among the most potent symbols of economic development for much of the twentieth century. Of late they have become a lightning rod for challenges to this vision of development as something planned by elites with scant regard for environmental and social consequences—especially for the populations that are displaced as their homelands are flooded. In this book, Sanjeev Khagram traces changes in our ideas of what constitutes appropriate development through the shifting transnational dynamics of big dam construction. Khagram tells the story of a growing, but contentious, world society that features novel and increasingly efficacious norms of appropriate behavior in such areas as human rights and environmental protection. The transnational coalitions and networks led by nongovernmental groups that espouse such norms may seem weak in comparison with states, corporations, and such international agencies as the World Bank. Yet they became progressively more effective at altering the policies and practices of these historically more powerful actors and organizations from the 1970s on. Khagram develops these claims in a detailed ethnographic account of the transnational struggles around the Narmada River Valley Dam Projects in central India, a huge complex of thirty large and more than three thousand small dams. He offers further substantiation through a comparative historical analysis of the political economy of big dam projects in India, Brazil, South Africa, and China as well as by examining the changing behavior of international agencies and global companies. The author concludes with a discussion of the World Commission on Dams, an innovative attempt in the late 1990s to generate new norms among conflicting stakeholders.”


Daniel Klingensmith, One Valley and A Thousand: Dams, Nationalism and Development. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007

“By the end of the twentieth century, more then 45,000 large dams were built world wide displacing millions of people, and dramatically altering both ecosystems and social systems centered on rivers. A majority of these dams were constructed after 1945. This book seeks to explain the enormous global investment in dams since 1945 and explores their connections to political ideologies. It shows the lack of concern and awareness of policymakers and electorates about the human tragedies. It also sheds light on the disappointing performace of many river valley projects. The author traces the history of the politics and the political culture that influenced economic and technical decisions in the creation of particular dams in India and the United States. In doing so, he contributes to a broader discussion on the politcal significance of dams worldwide, and of the connections between development and nationalism.’



Patrick McCully, Silenced Rivers: the Ecology and Politics of Large Dams. London: Zed Books, 2001

Entirely updated in light of the recent World Commission on Dams Report, and responding to it, this new edition of Patrick McCully’s now classic study shows why large dams have become such a controversial technology in both industrialized and developing countries. He explores the wide-ranging ecological impacts of large dams, the human consequences, the organization of the dam-building industry, and the role played by international banks and aid agencies in promoting it. He also looks as the extensive technical, safety, and economic problems associated with large dams. New in this edition, the author tells the story of the rapid growth of the international anti-dam movement, and suggests alternative methods of supplying the services supposedly provided by large dams.


Satyajit Singh, Taming the Waters: The Political Economy of Large Dams in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997

‘This study of India’s large dams is set in the dual context of state politics and social classes. It argues that efforts to spend public resources on these dams are not only uneconomical and non-sustainable, but have been monopolized by a privileged few. In confronting issues of water control, the book also examines larger environmental concerns.”




See Also:

Joel Cabalion, “For a sociology of dam-induced displacements: state-managed dispossession and social movements of resettlement in a region of Central rural India (Maharashtra)”, Symposium on Social movements and/in the postcolonial: dispossession development and resistance in the global south, Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice, School of Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham, England, 24th June 2008. Available online.

Rohan D’Souza, Drowned and Damned: Colonial Capitalism and Flood Control in Eastern India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2006

J.Dreze, M. Samson & S. Singh (eds), The Dam and the Nation: Displacement and Resettlement in the Narmada Valley. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997

Books: Urban Governance in India

Joël Ruet, Stéphanie Tawa-Lama Rewal, Governing India’s Metropolises, New Delhi: Routledge, 2009.

“Urban governance today is characterized by a multiplicity of actors involved in the management of local affairs. The questions for inquiry are: who are the individuals and institutions, public and private, who actually plan and manage urban affairs? In what ways do they do so? Whose interests are accommodated, and under what conditions can co-operative action be taken? And, more generally, in what ways are interactions between the many actors of urban governance patterned? This volume, based on a series of case studies from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad, discusses the governance of Indian metropolises with these questions in mind. It analyses the changes that have taken place in governance over the last 15 years as a result of liberalization and decentralization, focusing on six collective services: primary education, healthcare, subsidized food, slum rehabilitation, water and sanitation, and solid waste management. The book documents the continued appropriation of the state by an enlarged elite (including the vast middle class) and an incomplete democratization of urban local bodies (evident in the lack of empowerment of municipal councilors), which goes along with a new economic regime as defined by new modes of engagement between the private sector and the state. Also, the concept of governance as it is operationalized in this volume highlights the importance of class in interactions between actors. By disentangling formal elements of governance (legitimized by the state) from informal ones (involving actors who are beyond the recognition of the state) the book ultimately reveals various power equations at play. This volume will be of interest to scholars and students of sociology, political science, development studies, development economics, urban planning, and public policy studies.”


 Dominique Lorrain (ed.), Métropoles XXL en pays émergents, Paris : Presse de Sciences Po, 2011. 

“Ingouvernables ? Les très grandes métropoles, de 5 à 20 millions d’habitants, se multiplient ; la majorité d’entre elles se situent dans les pays émergents, accroissant les défis : peut-on en effet gouverner de vastes ensembles complexes et divisés par des inégalités ? La recherche a souvent répondu par la négative. Cet ouvrage développe une approche de la ville matérielle et de ses institutions. La prise en compte des réseaux urbains et des institutions qui permettent de les piloter montre que, sans élaborer de grande théorie, les responsables urbains ont inventé les mécanismes d’un gouvernement ordinaire. Ils l’ont fait à partir de la résolution de problèmes pratiques et irrépressibles : fournir de l’électricité, de l’eau potable, assainir, permettre les déplacements etc. Trois résultats ressortent : les réseaux techniques contribuent à structurer les villes et font office de dispositifs de cohérence. Les métropoles sont d’autant plus gouvernables qu’il existe un pouvoir légitime de rang supérieur capable de faire des arbitrages. Enfin, l’urbanisation anarchique trouve ses causes dans les régimes de propriété foncière, dans une insuffisante planification urbaine et dans les pratiques des promoteurs et des acteurs locaux qui s’enrichissent par la production du bâti. Par la nouveauté de ces hypothèses, la précision des analyses conduites à Shanghai, Mumbai, Le Cap et Santiago du Chili, ce livre s’adresse à tous ceux qui travaillent sur la ville : élus, fonctionnaires territoriaux et fonctionnaires d’État, cadres des firmes urbaines, citoyens et étudiants.”


 I.S.A. Baud and J.De Wit (eds), New Forms of Urban Governance in India. Shifts, Models, Networks and Contestations. Delhi : Sage Publications, 2009.  

“This work looks at the impact of decentralization on local governance arrangements and citizen participation in urban democracy processes in India. To analyse the various issues, it includes case studies from the major cities throughout the country. New Forms of Urban Governance in India: Shifts, Models, Networks and Contestations examines how local governments work together with other actors in governing mega cities in India, especially in view of globalization and internal transformation processes. It analyses whether new forms of governance open up opportunities for more participatory urban governance and improved service delivery, with positive implications for poor groups in the cities. The articles in the collection deal with two major processes—bringing the government closer to citizens through decentralization, and working with private sector and civil society groups in providing urban services. Participation of the rich and the poor in local democratic processes, and the relations between local and city planning are focussed. Students and academics involved in Urban Studies, Economics and Development Studies and the study of Local Governance will find the work valuable.”


See Also:

Richard C. Crook and James Manor, Democracy and Decentralization in South Asia and West Africa. Participation, Accountability and Performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998

Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria and Colin McFarlane, Urban Navigations. Politics, Space and the City in South Asia. Delhi: Routledge, 2011

K.C. Sivaramakrishnan, Revisioning Indian Cities. The Urban Renewal Mission. Delhi: Sage Publications, 2011

Stéphanie Tawa Lama-Rewal and Marie-Hélène Zérah, « Urban Democracy: A South Asian Perspective », South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal, 5/2011. Available online.

Stéphanie Tawa Lama – Rewal, Marie-Hélène Zérah and Véronique Dupont, (Eds) Urban Policies and the Right to the City in India: Rights, Responsibilities and Citizenship, UNESCO, Delhi, 2011. Available online.

Marie-Hélène Zérah and Loraine Kennedy, “Villes indiennes sous tutelles? Une réflexion sur les échelles de gouvernance à partir des cas de Mumbai et Hyderabad.”, Metropoles, 9/2011. Available online.


Books: Indian and Chinese Engineers in the Silicon Valley

Anna Lee Saxenian, Yasuyuki Motoyama, Xiaohong Quan, Local and global networks of immigrant professionals in Silicon Valley. San Francisco : Public Policy Institute of California, 2002. 

“Foreign-born entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are becoming agents of global economic change, and their increased mobility is fueling the emergence of entrepreneurial networks in distant locations. In this report, AnnaLee Saxenian investigates this development by drawing on the first large-scale survey of foreign-born professionals in Silicon Valley. Focusing on first-generation Indian and Chinese immigrants, the report compares their participation in local and global networks both to one another and to that of native-born professionals. The results indicate that local institutions and social networks within ethnic communities are more important than national or individual characteristics in explaining entrepreneurial behavior. The report also suggests that the so-called brain drain from India and China has been transformed into a more complex, two-way process of “brain circulation” linking Silicon Valley to urban centers in those countries.” 


Bernard P. Wong, The Chinese in Silicon Valley. Globalization, Social Networks, and Ethnic Identity. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005.

“The Chinese in Silicon Valley examines the complex and ever-growing role of Chinese American scientists and engineers in Silicon Valley. Globalization brings workers from many different countries and cultures together, impacting more than just their work environments. The Chinese who settle in Silicon Valley must learn to prosper despite changes in cultural identity, family life, and often citizenship. They learn how to utilize new social networks and make sense of a shifting ethnic identity. The Chinese community in Silicon Valley is being developed with the advantages and constraints of many factors: the new global economy, technology, the Chinese immigrants’ traditional culture, and the American host culture. Bernard Wong shows that the formation of Chinese American ethnic identity and community is a result of this globalization and transnationalism. This informative book presents important new knowledge on the connection between Chinese ethnicity and highly-skilled labor and entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley. Secondary statistical data combined with primary personal interview data makes this a detailed and interesting study of globalization, social networks, and ethnic identity.”


Shenglin Chang, The Global Silicon Valley Home. Lives and Landscapes within Taiwanese American Transpacific Culture. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006.

“The economic boom of the 1990s that led to the rapid rise of computer hardware and software companies (on both sides of the Pacific Rim) also led to the rise of a trans-Pacific commuter culture, a culture in which thousands of Taiwanese-born high-tech engineers realized that they could greatly increase their career opportunities by establishing a life-style that allowed them and their families to regularly commute between two homes, one in Silicon Valley and the other in Taiwan. The Global Silicon Valley Home takes a close look at how participants in the jet-set, wired-to-the-Net, trans-Pacific commuter culture have invented new ways of thinking about how their homes reflect their personal identities.”


See Also:

Anna Lee Saxenian Silicon Valley’ s new immigrant entrepreneurs. San Francisco : Public Policy Institute of California, 1999.

S. S. Kshastriy. Silicon Valley greats. Indians who made a difference to technology and the world. Delhi : Vikas, 2003.

Books: German Engineers

Kees Gispen, New Profession, Old Order. Engineers and German Society, 1815-1914. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990

“New Profession, Old Order explores the creative tension between modern technology and preindustrial Germany. It offers an explanation of why the engineering profession is so successful in transforming the physical world, did not achieve the professional power, cohesion, and prestige that its technological accomplishments would seem to have warranted. On the one hand, engineers were agents of modern instrumental rationality, specialization, practical knowledge, and entrepreneurial capitalism – forces antiasthetical to the quasi-aristocratic world of Bildung and bureaucracy that was the life blood of the preindustrial social hierarchy. On the other hand, it was this latter universe in which engineers had to survive and by whose standards they were judged for membership in the educated middle class or for access to prestigious careers. The result was an orientation that combined the old and the new in ways that were at once uniquely German and paradigmatic for modern industrial society.”

See Also:

Peter Lundgreen, André Grelon (eds), Ingenieure in Deutschland, 1770-1990. Frankfurt & New York: Campus Verlag, 1994

Marie-Bénédicte Daviet-Vincent, “Anciennes et nouvelles élites dans l’administration sous la République de Weimar: Trois fronts contre le monopole des juristes”, in Alain Chatriot, Dieter Gosewinkel, Figurationen des Staates in Deutschland und Frankreich 1870-1945. München; Oldenburg Wissenschaftsverlag, 2006

C.W.R. Gispen, “German Engineers and American Social Theory: Historical Perspectives on Professionalization”, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol 30, N°3, July 1988

Kees Gispen, “The Long Quest for Professional Identity: German Engineers in Historical Perspective, 1850-1990.”, in Peter Meiksins and Chris Smith, Engineering Labour. Technical Workers in Comparative Perspective. London and New York: Verso, 1996

Publication: Working Class Housing

Vanessa Caru, Des toits sur la Grève. Le logement des travailleurs et la question sociale à Bombay (1850-1950). Paris: Armand Colin, 2013. 

“Bombay, capitale indienne de l’économie et des services, forte de 20 millions d’habitants, s’est hissée au rang de cinquième métropole mondiale. Pôle d’attraction des migrations, sa croissance s’est faite au prix de fortes inégalités, si bien qu’aujourd’hui plus de la moitié de la population de la ville vit dans des bidonvilles, sur 6 % de la superficie urbaine.
Ce problème crucial n’est pas récent. La question du logement des plus pauvres a en effet émergé, dès le tournant du XXe siècle, comme une question politique majeure. Les autorités coloniales, puis le Parti du Congrès à partir des années 1930, ont choisi d’en faire l’un des principaux terrains du traitement politique de la question sociale.
Réfutant une approche longtemps prédominante dans le domaine de l’histoire urbaine des mondes coloniaux, selon laquelle l’urbanisme colonial est un processus imposé par le haut, cet ouvrage démontre combien le gouvernement colonial a été perméable à l’agitation sociale, qu’il a tenté de juguler en construisant des immeubles pour loger la main-d’œuvre industrielle, jetant littéralement des toits sur la grève. L’intérêt manifesté par les autorités pour ce problème et leur intervention précoce dans cette sphère ont également contribué à l’émergence de nouveaux terrains de négociation et de confrontation entre les travailleurs et le pouvoir, et de moyens de lutte spécifiques, comme la création de syndicats de locataires des classes populaires.
Fruit d’un travail mené à partir d’archives en partie inédites, cette étude apporte un éclairage nouveau sur la nature et les mécanismes de la domination coloniale, tout en complétant l’analyse des formes de mobilisation des travailleurs urbains indiens, qui s’était jusqu’alors limitée à la seule sphère du travail. Elle fournit, enfin, une perspective historique sur l’un des processus les plus marquants de la production de l’espace à Bombay, l’accaparement des ressources urbaines par les classes les plus aisées, établissant le rôle qu’y ont joué les autorités coloniales et les élites indiennes. ”


Chapitre liminaire : les raisons d’un silence (1850-1896)
Première partie : la fabrique d’un problème politique, le logement des travailleurs
1. L’épidémie de peste comme révélateur (1896-1914)
2. Eradiquer l’habitat insalubre (1898-1918)
3. Elaborer un habitat modèle ? réalisations et limites de la politique de logement du bombay city improvement trust
Deuxième partie : le traitement de la question sociale par le logement
4. Le logement devenu une urgence politique (1917-1920)
5. Mesures politiques et politique technique (1918-1928)
6. Logement patronal, logement colonial et contrôle de l’agitation ouvrière (1919-1934)
Troisième partie : le logement ouvrier, entre hégémonie nationaliste et nouvelles revendications populaires
7. Le logement populaire à l’heure des réformes électorales (1934-1937)
8. Contrôler les faubourgs ouvriers, la question du logement sous le congress raj (1937-1939)
9. « Jam yesterday, jam tomorrow, but never jam today », la politique de logement aux premiers temps de l’indépendance”

See Also: 

Vanessa Caru « La fabrique du logement ouvrier à Bombay », Histoire urbaine 2, n°19, 2007. Available here.

Vanessa Caru, « Où se loge le politique ? Mouvement des locataires et politisation des subalternes, Bombay (1920-1940) », Revue d’Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine, Vol. 58, n° 4, 2011

Book: Social Mobility

Jules Naudet, Entrer dans l’élite. Parcours de réussite en France, aux Etats-Unis et en Inde. Paris: PUF, 2012

“Cet ouvrage analyse la manière dont des personnes originaires de milieux modestes et ayant accédé aux positions les plus prestigieuses du secteur privé, de la haute fonction publique et de l’université, parviennent à s’ajuster à leur nouveau statut social. Réussissent-elles à se « convertir » à leur nouveau groupe ? Cherchent-elles à conserver des liens forts avec leur milieu d’origine?? Comment gèrent-elles la contradiction de cette double appartenance ? Jules Naudet répond à ces questions en s’appuyant sur une enquête menée en France, en Inde et aux États-Unis, où il a recueilli près de 160 récits de vie de personnes ayant connu une ascension sociale exceptionnellement forte. Tandis que les Indiens témoignent avant tout d’un attachement profond à leur milieu d’origine, les Américains minimisent le contraste, donnant l’impression que la réussite « va de soi ». Enfin, les Français opposent deux mondes profondément différents, voire irréconciliables. Pour mener à bien l’analyse de ce riche matériau empirique, Jules Naudet propose un renouvellement de la problématique de la mobilité sociale et des outils théoriques traditionnellement mobilisés par les chercheurs travaillant sur cette question.”

 See Also:

Jules Naudet, « Castes, untouchability and social success in India », Books & Ideas, 18 March 2010. Available online.

Jules Naudet, “Paying Back to Society. Upward Social Mobility among Dalits.”, Contributions to Indian Sociology, Vol. 42, n°3, Oct. 2008

S. M. Dubey, Social mobility among the professions: study of the professions in a transitional Indian city, Bombay, Popular Prakashan, 1975.

Rajeshwari Desphande, Suhas Palshikar, “Occupational Mobility: How much does caste matter?”, Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 43, n°34, 2008

C. Rajagopalan, Jaspal Singh, “The Indian Institutes of Technology: Do They Contribute to Social Mobility?”, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 3, N°14, 1968

Books: Bangalore and the IT Industry

John Stallmeyer. Building Bangalore: Architecture and Urban Transformation in India’s Silicon Valley. London and New YorkRoutledge, 2011

“Examining spatial transformations in Bangalore, one of India’s fastest growing cities, this book highlights the influence of information and communications technology (ICT) development on the city. Focusing on the production of urban space and the processes that inform such production, the author proposes that Silicon Valley, California has become a globalized model for the production of ICT urban development.”


Nicholas Nisbett. Growing up in the Knowledge Society: Living the IT Dream in Bangalore (Cities and the Urban Imperative). New Delhi: Routledge India, 2009

“This work is an ethnographic investigation into the everyday lives of young people growing up and living in contemporary Bangalore. Moving beyond the hype of the Indian ‘knowledge society’, it examines how new forms of technology and outsourced labour become integral to their lives, changing the experience of Indian modernity and globalisation. ”


Aurélie Varrel. “Back to Bangalore” : étude géographique de la migration de retour des indiens très qualifiés à Bangalore (Inde). Thèse de Doctorat, Université de Poitiers, 2008

“Le tryptique ville – mondialisation – migration est mis en perspective dans la thèse à partir d’un poste d’observation situé au Sud : la ville de Bangalore, la cinquième ville de l’Inde par la population, largement présentée comme la ” Silicon Valley indienne “. L’objet d’analyse est le phénomène de migration de retour de migrants indiens très qualifiés, salariés du secteur des hautes et des nouvelles technologies, revenant majoritairement des Etats-Unis à Bangalore. La recherche articule géographie des migrations et géographie urbaine dans une démarche compréhensive qui permet d’appréhender les pratiques de l’espace et les significations qui leur sont attachées, ainsi que les échelles collective et individuelle du fait migratoire. Elle interroge ainsi une notion et une catégorie importantes de la géographie des migrations : la migration de retour et les migrants très qualifiés. La thèse montre que le retour s’insère dans les évolutions de la dynamique technopolitaine qui caractérise Bangalore. Elle souligne la pertinence de la notion de migration de retour comme catégorie analytique du projet migratoire des acteurs, comme processus et comme moment de trajectoires migratoires de plus en plus transnationales. Par ailleurs le rôle joué par les migrants dans la fabrique métropolitaine et technopolitaine est mis en évidence par l’étude de leurs pratiques résidentielles, en particulier pour le développement d’un urbanisme d’enclave. Cultivant l’entre-deux, les migrants de retour renforcent le rôle de Bangalore en tant que pôle du champ migratoire indien.”

Available online.

James Heitzman. Network City: Planning the Information Society in Bangalore. New York:  Oxford University Press, 2004

“The author examines the developments in Bangalore, India’s Silicon Valley, against the backdrop of a global institutional commitment to the information society as a model for development in the twenty-first century.”





See Also:

R.C.Mascarenhas. India’s Silicon Plateau: Development of Information and Communication Technology in Bangalore. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2010

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

Janaki Nair. The Promise of the Metropolis: Bangalore’s Twentieth Century. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007

Books: India’s New Middle Classes

Leela Fernandes. India’s New Middle Class: Democratic Politics in an era of economic reform, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006

“Leela Fernandes digs into the implications of the growth of the middle class in India and uncovers—in the media, in electoral politics, and on the streets of urban neighborhoods—the complex politics of caste, religion, and gender that shape this rising population. Using rich ethnographic data, she reveals how the middle class operates as a proponent of economic democratization. ”

Book reviews:

Mark Jackson, “Leela Fernandes, India’s New Middle Class: Democratic Politics in an era of economic reform.”, Canadian Journal of Sociology Online, Sept-Oct 2007. Available here.

Murayama, Mayumi, “India’s New Middle Class: Democratic Politics in an Era of Economic Reform – by Leela Fernandes”, The Developing Economies, Vol. 47, Issue 2, June 2009


Amita Baviskar, Raka Ray (eds). Elite and Everyman: The Cultural Politics of the Indian Middle Classes, New Delhi: Routledge India, 2011

“This book examines the middle classes — who they are and what they do — and their influence in shaping contemporary cultural politics in India. Describing the historical emergence of these classes, from the colonial period to contemporary times, it shows how the middle classes have changed, with older groups shifting out and new entrants taking place, thereby transforming the character and meanings of the category. The essays in this volume observe multiple sites of social action (workplaces and homes, schools and streets, cinema and sex surveys, temples and tourist hotels) to delineate the lives of the middle classes and show how middle-class definitions and desires articulate hegemonic notions of the normal and the normative.”


See Also:

Timothy Scrase. “The “New” Middle Class in India. A Re-assessment”, 16th Biennial Conference of the Asian Studies Association of Australia in Wollongong, 26 June – 29 June 2006. Available here.

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

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

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