WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No. 8590

Date uploaded in London – – – 29 August 2020   

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Chapter -11 Part 3

Indian Science and Technology-2


The other areas in which Indian technology attracted serious attention were:
– making of “Madrass Mortar” which was very strong, and worked well under water.
– process of making paper
-process of making ice ( when this was not known in Europe)
-waterproofing the bottom of ships 
– making of wootz steel.


Perhaps no where were the British floored so well as in the matter of steel. Superiority of Indian iron and steel was easily proven and admitted. Yet, Indians operated on small scale, with small units spread out in the country. J.M.Heath, founder of the Indian Iron and Steel Co admitted that Indian processes seemed to combine both the methods then known in Europe; yet he had the arrogance to say that probably Indians did not have a theoretical knowledge! It was estimated that in mid-19th century, there were about 10,000 iron and steel furnaces operating in different parts of the country. Just imagine all these worked without any theoretical knowledge!

The administrators in London categorically said in 1814 that nothing should be done in India to improve matters.


With all this coverage, the papers presented in the volume do not cover Textiles, armaments, horticultural techniques, animal breeding, design and construction of sea faring vessels. India was well known in these fields. The French writer Sovyns provides 40 sketches of boats and other vessels in use in North India in 1790 in his book (4 volumes, 1802-1812 ) and says: “The English, attentive to everything which  relates to naval architecture, have borrowed from the Hindoos many improvements which they have adapted with success to their own shipping.”


Indian science and technology, like our polity, economy, education collapsed due to the deliberate colonial policy. In accordance with mercantilist and colonial policy, they were only engaged in taking wealth out of India by all means. First agriculture and then industries declined. Incomes declined. Livelihoods were snuffed out; poverty stalked, famines struck. Services provided for by local communities out of their own revenues disappeared when the local bodies lost their independence and revenue. The economic breakdown of India between 1750 and 1900 was total. No society could survive such an onslaught.

It is the supreme irony of our times that while the sinister nature of British imperialism and its destructive effects are being increasingly realised by the serious student, the general educational system in India totally neglects India’s own achievements and is still persisting with colonial lies and concoctions. 

 The Muslim invasions were outwardly brutal, but the British rule was even more brutal.

French savant Voltaire considered India “famous for its laws and sciences.” He deplored the way the Europeans were “amassing immense fortunes”. He remarked: ” If the Indians had remained unknown to the Tartars and to us, they would have been the happiest people in the world.”

Dharampal’s volume is a splendid compilation of the thriving state of our science and technology in the eighteenth century, before the British game of destruction intensified.

“The British conquest of India was an invasion and destruction of a high civilization by a trading company utterly without scruple or principle, careless of art and greedy of gain, over-running with fire and sword a country temporarily disordered and helpless, bribing and murdering, annexing and stealing, and beginning that career of illegal and ‘legal’ plunder which has now gone on ruthlessly for one hundred and seventy- three years.”

                                                    – Will Durant in 1930s

Note :

1. Dharampal’s volume contains 17 archival papers which deserve serious study, by all Indian students of science.
2. A  comprehensive account of the state of technology in India, China and the West from 1500 is provided in Claude Alvares: Decolonising History (Other India Press, Mapusa, Goa, 1997)

3. How the British destroyed Textile and other industries is dealt with in The Economic History of India by Romesh Chander Dutt.

4. The excellent agricultural practices of Indians can be gathered from An Agricultural Testament by Albert Howard. 

5.  An exhibition was held in London in March-April, 2018 on Ayurveda and Indian medicine. It was in London Wellcome Centre, near Easton Square underground.It displayed Sanskrit manuscripts, pictures, and also ancient Indian surgical instruments. There were other features.  Admission was free. It gave the world an idea of what India and Indians achieved in medicine and surgery. But it was not covered by the media or newspapers in India!

                    *** Chapter 11 concluded

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