Research & Talks

Research interests: History of technology, twentieth-century history of South Asia, history of engineering, history of industrial enterprises in India, Indian business history



The Birth of an Indian Profession: Engineers, Industry, and the State, 1900-47 (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2017).


The Birth of an Indian Profession
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Papers/conference presentations

  • ‘“Indigenous Knowledge” and “Science” in the Age of Globalization’, IIM Kozhikode Society & Management Review, Vol. 3, No. 1 (January 2014), pp. 101-107.
  • ‘International networks and aircraft manufacture in late-colonial India: Hindustan Aircraft Limited, 1940-47’, IIM Kozhikode working paper no. IIMK/WPS/205/HLA/2016/17, July 2016.
  • ‘From post-war reconstruction to nation-building: The evolution of technical education policy in India, 1938-56’, presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), Singapore (2016).
  • ‘International networks and aircraft manufacture in late-colonial India: Hindustan Aircraft Limited, 1940-47’, presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), Albuquerque (2015).
  • ‘Extra-Imperial Influences in Indian Industrialisation: The technical experts of the Tata steel works, c. 1900-40’, paper presented at the World Business History Conference, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany (2014).
  • ‘Prospects for Business History Education in India’, presented at conference titled ‘Business History in Africa, Asia and Latin America: Integrating Course Development and New Research’, held at Harvard Business School (2014).
  • ‘Professional institutions and the engineering profession in India, nineteenth century to c. 1930’, British Society for the History of Science (BSHS) postgraduate student conference, Manchester, UK (2009).


Research Project

Member, international project under the French National Research Agency (ANR) titled ‘ENGIND: Engineers and Society in Colonial and Postcolonial India’, coordinated by Dr Vanessa Caru, Centre for the Study of India and South Asia (CEIAS/EHESS), Paris (2014-17).


Workshop Papers

  • ‘Industrial Experts in the Age of Indianisation: The European Engineering Firms of Calcutta, 1914-47’, presented at mid-term workshop of the ENGIND project (see above), Centre for Social Sciences and Humanities, New Delhi (2016).
  • ‘Steel, Planes and Engineers: Indian Industry’s American Connection, c. 1920-50’, presented at workshop on ‘Texts, Instruments, Experts: Practices of knowledge-production in colonial South Asia’, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi (2014).
  • ‘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 held at Heidelberg University  (2010).


Invited Research Talks

  • ‘Race, Culture and the Ideal Engineer: The Public Works Department in India at the End of Empire’, presented at North Carolina State University (2015).
  • ‘“British Integrity, Resource and Impartiality”: Indianisation and the Culture of Public Works Engineering, 1900-40’, presented at seminar on ‘Aspects of Science, Technology & Medicine in Colonial and Post-Colonial India’, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Madras (2015).
  • ‘International networks and the birth of aircraft manufacture in India: Hindustan Aircraft Limited, c. 1940-55’, presented in the research seminar series, IIM Bangalore (2016).
  • ‘Professional institutions and the emergence of an Indian identity among engineers, c. 1900-47’, presented in the research seminar series at IIM Calcutta (2014).
  • ‘Provincialisation, Indianisation, and the Ideal Public Works Engineer, 1900-40’, presented at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Mohali (2012).


Talks given to non-academic/professional audiences

  • ‘Engineers, Technology and Industry in India: Perspectives from History’, delivered at ‘R&D Day’ of Shell Technology Centre, Bangalore (2014).
  • ‘The Engineering Profession in India: A historical perspective’, delivered as part of the ‘Power Hour’ series at Ingersoll-Rand Engineering and Technology Centre, Bangalore (2013).
  • Lunchtime Lecture on ‘“Bijli Sahib”: J.W. Meares and Electrical Engineering in India, 1896-1923’ at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), London (2010).
  • Speech on ‘History and the engineer in modern Indian culture’, delivered as part of a panel discussion during the Asian Cultural Week, Goodenough College, London (2009).


PhD thesis (Imperial College London, 2012)

  • ‘Engineers in India: Industrialisation, Indianisation and the State, 1900-47’
  • Supervisors: Prof. David Edgerton and Dr Abigail Woods
  • The thesis examines how developments in the engineering profession in India from 1900 to 1947 were interlinked with two important transformations in Indian society: the growth of private industry (industrialisation) and the increasing proportion of ‘native’ Indians in government services and private firms (Indianisation). It focuses on engineers in three key sectors: public works, railways and private industry.