The New Cambridge History of India, Volume 3, Part 5: by David Arnold

By David Arnold

It's a little ironic that during a few histories of technology in the course of the global, you'll find larger assurance of India ahead of the British arrived, than throughout the colonial period. partially, might be, it can be from a wish to describe the simply Indian contributions to science.

But what occurred in technology, engineering and medication while the British governed India has been fairly overlooked, in comparison to either the pre and submit colonial eras. Arnold makes an attempt to redress this deficit right here. He describes how indigenous Indian scientists and medical professionals realized from and in addition encouraged the British.

Especially within the region of tropical medication. From their African colonies, the British additionally had studies during this box. yet India had a lot larger inhabitants densities and a extra hugely built infrastructure than in Africa. Plus the Indians had possibly higher, even though incomplete, wisdom of solutions.

It continues to be wonderful that up until eventually now, there was little scholarly paintings performed in this topic. One may possibly speculate that prior British authors may need targeting technological know-how performed in Britain itself. And Indian authors may need sought after, no matter if merely subconsciously, to deprecate the colonial interval.

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Extra resources for The New Cambridge History of India, Volume 3, Part 5: Science, Technology and Medicine in Colonial India

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Indeed, the nature of Company rule and the burden of official duties might do more to obstruct than to facilitate the pursuit of ‘recreational’ science. Few Europeans in India had the time and opportunity to dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to science. ‘A mere man of letters, retired from the world and allotting his whole time to philosophical or literary pursuits’ was said in  to be ‘a character unknown among Europeans resident in India’. 15 Unlike in Britain, there were few European clergymen, landlords and manufacturers to produce papers on natural history or patronise fledgling scientific societies.

Orientalists not only noted the design and working of Indian observatories, but also, like H. T. Colebrooke, wrote sympathetically on Hindu astronomy. Europeans were employed as astronomers at Indian courts, including that of the Nawab of Awadh, who in  appointed J. D. Herbert as the superintendent of his Lucknow observatory. A further stimulus to British interest in Indian astronomy was a paper by the Scots mathematician John Playfair in  on ‘the Astronomy of the Brahmins’. This took up the idea, earlier propounded by the French astronomers Le Gentil and Bailly, that Indian astronomy was not part of the Western astronomical tradition, traceable back to the ancient Middle East, but an entirely separate system, dating from as early as  , and which had produced astronomical observations and predictions of astounding accuracy.

Satpal Sangwan, ‘From Gentlemen Amateurs to Professionals: Reassessing the Natural Science Tradition in Colonial India, –’, in Richard H. ), Nature and the Orient: The Environmental History of South and Southeast Asia (Delhi, ), pp. –. 18 19  ,        technical agencies had barely begun to emerge from the matrix of the military and medical services before the s. It is necessary, therefore, to look beyond the formal parameters of state science to establish the general character and significance of science in the Company period.

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