Research and 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
Image courtesy


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

Reviewed in The Hindu, Economic & Political Weekly, H-Soz-Kult, The Book Review, Indian Economic & Social History Review.


  • [With Neveen Abdelrehim, Andrew Smith, and Andrew Popp]. ‘Ambiguous Decolonisation: a postcolonial reading of the IHRM strategy of the Burmah Oil Company’, Business History, 63, 1 (2021): 98-126.
  • ‘International Networks and Aircraft Manufacture in Colonial and Postcolonial India: States, Entrepreneurs and Educational Institutions, 1940-64’, Journal of Research Institute for the History of Global Arms Transfer, 9 (2020): 41-59.
  • ‘The Emergence of Engineering as a Profession in Modern India’, Indian Journal of History of Science, 53, 4 (2018): T205-T210.
  • ‘“Indigenous Knowledge” and “Science” in the Age of Globalization’, IIM Kozhikode Society & Management Review, 3, 1 (2014): 101-7.

Book chapters

  • [with Amy Sue Bix, Christine Winberg, Aive Pevkur, and Eddie Conlon] ‘The Historically Global Forming of Engineering Education’ in Aditya Johri (ed.), International Handbook of Engineering Education Research (New York: Routledge, 2023), pp. 9-29.
  • ‘La controverse du pont de Howrah: Expertise technique et enjeux sociaux et politiques en Inde à la fin de l’ère coloniale’ [Translated from the English by Christine Vivier] in Charles Gadea and Roland Lardinois (eds.), Les Mondes de l’ingénieur en Inde (XIXe-XXIe siècle) (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2022), pp. 75-97.

Book Reviews

  • ‘Review of Temples of Modernity: Nationalism, Hinduism, and Transhumanism in South Indian Science by Robert Geraci’, Technology and Culture 62, 1 (2021): 311-12.
  • ‘Book review: Ross Bassett, The Technological Indian’, Studies in History, 34, 2 (2018): 212-215.

Selected Conference/ Workshop Presentations

  • Untitled presentation as part of a panel on ‘Technology in Asia as an Emerging Field’, Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference, Hawai’i (attended virtually, 2022).
  • ‘From Civil Engineer to Promoter of Economic Planning: Sir M. Visvesvaraya and the making of expertise in late-colonial India’, presented at an invited panel at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) (virtual, 2021).
  • ‘The Indo-Japanese Association and Business Relations between India and Japan, c. 1903-1939’, presented at the 12th International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS), Kyoto (virtual, 2021).
  • ‘Training the Technocratic Indian: Sir M. Visvesvaraya’s engagement with technical education policy, c. 1900-1950’, presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), Milan, Italy (2019).
  • ‘Technocratic visions of craft and mechanisation: Sir M. Visvesvaraya’s plans for twentieth-century Mysore and India’. Workshop on ‘Craft and innovation in modern societies’, co-sponsored by the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), the Chinese Institute for the History of Natural Sciences (IHNS), and the China National Silk Museum (CNSM), Hangzhou, China (2018).
  • ‘Engineering and technology in colonial India’. Conference on ‘The Emergence of Modern Science in Colonial India’ at the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi (2018).
  • ‘Who’s in Charge of the Howrah Bridge? Engineering expertise and the political economy of late-colonial India’. Conference on ‘Engineers and society in India, from c. 1850 to present times’, EHESS [School of Higher Studies in Social Sciences], Paris (2017).
  • ‘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).
  • ‘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).

Invited Lectures/ Talks/ Seminars

  • ‘A Brief History of an Aspirational Profession: Engineering in India’, International Women’s Association Endowment Lecture, Museum Theatre [Government Museum complex], Chennai (2018).
  • ‘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

  • ‘Fasten Your Seatbelts: The birth of the aircraft manufacturing industry in India’, talk at Varahamihira Science Forum, Chennai (virtual) (2021).
  • ‘Engineering in India: A Brief History of an Aspirational Profession’, Lecture on the occasion of Engineer’s Day at Godrej Archives, Godrej & Boyce Estate, Mumbai (2018).
  • ‘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).

Book Talks (on The Birth of an Indian Profession)

  • At Madras Book Club, in conversation with R. Gopu (2018)
  • At Nehru Centre, Mumbai, in conversation with Professor T. Jayaraman (2019)
  • At Ahmedabad University, in conversation with Professor Devanath Tirupati and Professor Patrick French (2017)
  • At Vikram Sarabhai Library, IIM Ahmedabad (2017)