Image: Wal­ter Scheel (2nd from right), Minis­ter for Eco­no­mic Coope­ra­ti­on and Deve­lo­p­ment of the Fede­ral Repu­blic of Ger­ma­ny, visi­ting IIT Madras in 1963. Second from left is Pro­fes­sor B. Sen­gupto, the first Direc­tor of IIT Madras (Pho­to: Heri­ta­ge Cent­re, IIT Madras)

Table of Con­tents
Intro­duc­tion  |  The ent­an­gled his­to­ries of IIT Madras |  Archi­val mate­ri­al on the histo­ry of IIT Madras in India |  IIT Madras in Ger­man archi­vesCon­clu­ding remarks: Wri­ting Indo-Ger­man histo­ry from Ger­man archi­ves | Archi­vesBiblio­gra­phy 


In my cur­rent rese­arch pro­ject, I explo­re Indo-Ger­man sci­en­ti­fic and tech­ni­cal col­la­bo­ra­ti­on during the Cold War through archi­val mate­ri­al on the histo­ry of the Indi­an Insti­tu­te of Tech­no­lo­gy (IIT) Madras, available in India as well as in Ger­man archi­ves. IIT Madras was foun­ded and set up bet­ween 1956 and 1974 with the assis­tance of the Fede­ral Repu­blic of Ger­ma­ny in the con­text of an evol­ving deve­lo­p­ment dis­cour­se. By the 1970s, IIT Madras had deve­lo­ped into „one of the Pre­mier Insti­tu­ti­ons of its kind and the lar­gest and most advan­ced tech­ni­cal edu­ca­ti­on pro­ject under­ta­ken by the Fede­ral Repu­blic of Ger­ma­ny out­side Ger­ma­ny“ (Fifth Indo-Ger­man Agree­ment, 1979). Bet­ween 20 and 40 Ger­man experts work­ed at any given time bet­ween 1959 and 1974 to set up labo­ra­to­ries and engi­nee­ring cur­ri­cu­la and estab­lish a cor­re­spon­ding rese­arch agen­da, while a first gene­ra­ti­on of Indi­an facul­ty in return recei­ved their trai­ning in Ger­ma­ny through a scho­lar­ship pro­gram­me. Ger­man ide­as and prac­ti­ces of engi­nee­ring edu­ca­ti­on and rese­arch are mani­fes­ted and mate­ria­li­zed in labo­ra­to­ry set­ups and lar­ge amounts of Ger­man sci­en­ti­fic equipment.

What were the moti­ves, aspi­ra­ti­ons and expe­ri­en­ces of the Indi­an and Ger­man actors invol­ved? Rich archi­val mate­ri­al in both count­ries faci­li­ta­tes an ent­an­gled histo­ry, brin­ging tog­e­ther both Indi­an and Ger­man per­spec­ti­ves and nar­ra­ti­ves. The sta­tus and acces­si­bi­li­ty to archi­val sources is rather asym­me­tric. IIT Madras has only recent­ly taken first steps to estab­lish its insti­tu­tio­nal archi­ve. A sur­vey of poten­ti­al archi­val docu­ments at IIT Madras has yiel­ded lar­ge amounts of mate­ri­al but also the urgent need for con­ser­va­ti­on and pre­ser­va­ti­on. The ear­liest docu­ments on the plan­ning of the insti­tu­ti­on in 1956 are found in the Poli­ti­cal Archi­ve of the Fede­ral For­eign Office (Poli­ti­sches Archiv des Aus­wär­ti­gen Amts) in Ber­lin. The Ger­man Fede­ral Archi­ves (Bun­des­ar­chiv) in Koblenz hold an archi­ve repo­si­to­ry on IIT Madras by the Fede­ral Minis­try for Eco­no­mic Coope­ra­ti­on and Deve­lo­p­ment (Bun­des­mi­nis­te­ri­um für wirt­schaft­li­che Zusam­men­ar­beit und Ent­wick­lung). Other key archi­ves for the histo­ry of IIT Madras include the archi­ves of the tech­ni­cal uni­ver­si­ties of Aachen, Ber­lin, Braun­schweig, and Stutt­gart, which were men­tor insti­tu­ti­ons in set­ting up IIT Madras. Oral histo­ry inter­views with for­mer Indi­an and Ger­man facul­ty and offi­ci­als and a lar­ge pho­to coll­ec­tion at the IIT Madras Heri­ta­ge Cent­re com­ple­ment the archi­val material.

The entangled histories of IIT Madras

How did the Ger­man pro­fes­sors think Indi­an engi­neers should be trai­ned given their own back­ground from the Ger­man sys­tem of tech­ni­cal edu­ca­ti­on? How did Ger­man con­cep­ti­ons cor­re­spond to the view­points and expec­ta­ti­ons of their Indi­an coun­ter­parts? How did Indi­an stu­dents, facul­ty and others expe­ri­ence the first deca­des of Indo-Ger­man col­la­bo­ra­ti­on? Which kinds of dif­fe­ren­ces but also con­ver­gen­ces in aspi­ra­ti­ons can be tra­ced on both the Indi­an and Ger­man sides? How did ide­as and prac­ti­ces of engi­nee­ring edu­ca­ti­on and rese­arch unfold and trans­form in the Indi­an, or we might rather say in the Madras envi­ron­ment? It comes as litt­le sur­pri­se for a foun­da­ti­on with Ger­man invol­vement that Mecha­ni­cal Engi­nee­ring was, and still is, the lar­gest facul­ty at IIT Madras. A ’sand­wich sys­tem‘, whe­re first year stu­dents spent every alter­na­te week in the work­shop has, howe­ver, been aban­do­ned. While Indi­an IIT-gra­dua­tes have beco­me a suc­cessful brand within the inter­na­tio­nal cor­po­ra­te world, the cur­ri­cu­lum has gra­du­al­ly moved away from a focus on the labo­ra­to­ry and work­shop, and towards com­pu­ta­ti­on and theory.

In my pro­ject, I trace the first gene­ra­ti­on of Ger­man experts, labo­ra­to­ry equip­ment and prac­ti­ces at IIT Madras and place them within con­cepts and tra­di­ti­ons of sci­ence and engi­nee­ring edu­ca­ti­on and rese­arch. This histo­ry is embedded in a lar­ger con­text of Indo-Ger­man poli­ti­cal, eco­no­mic, sci­en­ti­fic and indus­tri­al rela­ti­onships, and Ger­man invol­vement in tech­ni­cal edu­ca­ti­on and aid. The histo­ry of the Indi­an Insti­tu­tes of Tech­no­lo­gy has so far been unders­tood as the import of a Mas­sa­chu­setts Insti­tu­te of Tech­no­lo­gy (MIT)-type insti­tu­ti­on into post-inde­pen­dence Neh­ru­vi­an India that faci­li­ta­ted out­sour­cing and the rise of the Indi­an IT indus­try (Bas­sett 2009 and 2016, Shar­ma 2016, Les­lie and Kar­gon 1996 and 2006, and Sela­by 1972). After deco­lo­niza­ti­on, India was iden­ti­fied with under­de­ve­lo­p­ment. In the visi­on of Jawa­harlal Neh­ru, the first Prime Minis­ter of India, sci­en­ti­fic and tech­ni­cal edu­ca­ti­on was a pri­ma­ry engi­ne to trans­form India into a modern and pro­spe­rous nati­on-sta­te. The post-inde­pen­dence Sar­kar Com­mit­tee Report beca­me a blue­print for the estab­lish­ment of the Indi­an IITs. The report iden­ti­fied spe­ci­fi­cal­ly the need for a num­ber of „MIT-type Insti­tu­ti­ons“ to deve­lop and moder­ni­ze sci­ence and engi­nee­ring edu­ca­ti­on in India (Sar­kar Com­mit­tee 1948).

The histo­ry of IIT Madras, howe­ver, reve­als a more com­plex sto­ry. When it was inau­gu­ra­ted in 1959, IIT Madras was the third IIT after Kha­rag­pur, foun­ded inde­pendent­ly in 1951, and IIT Bom­bay, foun­ded with the assis­tance of the Soviet Uni­on in 1958, just a year after the Sput­nik shock. The IIT Kan­pur Indo-Ame­ri­can Pro­gram­me came into exis­tence only in 1961 (Sela­by 1972). Accep­ting assis­tance from both, the Soviet Uni­on and the United Sta­tes was cen­tral to Indi­an non-ali­gnment poli­cy. The agree­ment that Ger­ma­ny would assist in set­ting up one of the IITs was made at the mee­ting bet­ween Neh­ru and Kon­rad Ade­nau­er in 1956, which was domi­na­ted by dis­cour­ses on the divi­si­on of Ger­ma­ny and ten­si­ons bet­ween east and west. After obtai­ning sove­reig­n­ty in 1955, the Fede­ral Repu­blic of Ger­ma­ny could explo­re its role as an inter­na­tio­nal play­er and an arti­cu­la­ted mem­ber of the Wes­tern Block while the Hall­stein doc­tri­ne expres­sed the Fede­ral Republic’s cla­im to be the only legi­ti­ma­te repre­sen­ta­ti­ve of a Ger­man sta­te. The gover­nan­ce of set­ting up IIT Madras, until 1961 direct­ly under the For­eign Office, fol­lo­wed poli­ti­cal gui­de­lines, to which edu­ca­tio­nal and sci­en­ti­fic aspects were sub­or­di­na­te. Seen from the West-Ger­man per­spec­ti­ve, set­ting up IIT Madras was pur­suing cold war for­eign poli­tics by other means.

Indo-Ger­man intellec­tu­al and sci­en­ti­fic exch­an­ges date back to the 18th and 19th cen­tu­ries, when Ger­mans were employ­ed by the East India Com­pa­ny and the Bri­tish Indi­an Sta­te, and stu­di­ed Indi­an cul­tu­re, lan­guages and phi­lo­so­phy (Man­ja­pra 2013). Free­dom figh­ters saw in Ger­ma­ny the ene­my of the des­pi­sed Bri­tish Raj, and the­r­e­fo­re a poten­ti­al ally. They also had a high regard for the Hum­bold­ti­an uni­ver­si­ty and Ger­man tech­ni­cal edu­ca­ti­on. The Ger­man Tech­ni­sche Hoch­schu­le ser­ved at the fin de siè­cle as a model for hig­her engi­nee­ring edu­ca­ti­on in North Ame­ri­ca as well as in lar­ge parts of Eas­tern Euro­pe and Scan­di­na­via (Witt­je 2006). I inves­ti­ga­te how the estab­lish­ment of IIT Madras com­pa­res to the­se ear­lier adapt­a­ti­ons of a Tech­ni­sche Hoch­schu­le model. While the Indo-Ger­man rela­ti­onship was re-cast in the post-WWII world order, whe­re the US clai­med a lead in Third World moder­niza­ti­on, the Wirt­schafts­wun­der brought Ger­ma­ny back as an eco­no­mic player.

Com­pa­nies like Sie­mens, Bosch, Daim­ler Benz and AEG estab­lished joint ven­tures and pro­duc­tion plants in India and requi­red local engi­neers and workers who were skil­led to satis­fy the needs of the Ger­man shop flo­or. It remains to be stu­di­ed how IIT Madras fits into this pic­tu­re. IIT Madras was the lar­gest, but only one of the many Ger­man pro­jects on tech­ni­cal edu­ca­ti­on in India, which was main­ly aimed at voca­tio­nal trai­ning. Indo-Ger­man col­la­bo­ra­ti­on in tech­ni­cal edu­ca­ti­on was not sheer sel­fless deve­lo­p­ment aid but inten­ded to meet the needs of Ger­man com­pa­nies on the Indi­an mar­ket (Preuss 2013, Lubin­ski 2018, Tetzlaff 2018). Diver­ging aspi­ra­ti­ons for IIT Madras bet­ween the Indi­an and the Ger­man side beca­me clear in the initi­al docu­ments, wher­eby the Ger­mans label­led the insti­tu­te as a Tech­ni­sche Lehr­an­stalt, an insti­tu­ti­on for prac­ti­cal trai­ning of hands-on engi­nee­ring skills rather than an eli­te rese­arch uni­ver­si­ty like MIT. It also needs to be stu­di­ed how Indo-Ger­man coope­ra­ti­on in tech­ni­cal edu­ca­ti­on rela­tes to simi­lar coope­ra­ti­on in Asi­an, Latin Ame­ri­can and Afri­can count­ries whe­re Ger­man com­pa­nies had simi­lar interests.

One of the aspects I stu­dy is how the estab­lish­ment of IIT Madras rela­ted to the social, eco­no­mic, and cul­tu­ral tex­tu­re of South India in gene­ral and Madras as a city, in par­ti­cu­lar. How did sci­ence and engi­nee­ring edu­ca­ti­on poli­cy trans­la­te into prac­ti­ce local­ly? The Ger­man experts laid a lar­ge empha­sis on prac­ti­cal edu­ca­ti­on and lamen­ted the lop­si­ded theo­re­ti­cal ori­en­ta­ti­on of their Indi­an col­le­agues. Did the Ger­man experts make attempts to con­nect prac­ti­ce in engi­nee­ring edu­ca­ti­on to the argu­ab­ly skilful arts and craft com­mu­ni­ties of South India, or to deve­lop an under­stan­ding for the low sta­tus accor­ded to prac­ti­cal know­ledge and manu­al labour in Indi­an social struc­tu­re and cas­te-based socie­ty? It seems that they repli­ca­ted a Ger­man craft work­shop ins­tead. Their Indi­an col­le­agues agreed on the importance of prac­ti­ce, but only in theo­ry, as Sabi­ne Preuss has put it (Preuss 2013, p. 96). Ins­tead of beco­ming engi­nes of social trans­for­ma­ti­on, as envi­sio­ned in the Neh­ru­vi­an pro­ject, IIT Madras and the other IITs beca­me engi­nes of social repro­duc­tion, as poin­ted out by Anjan­tha Subra­ma­ni­an (Subra­ma­ni­an 2015).

The boun­da­ry bet­ween Ger­mans and Indi­ans seems to have been cle­ar­ly drawn with the Ger­man com­mu­ni­ty of experts pri­ma­ri­ly stay­ing among them­sel­ves rather than soci­al­ly ming­ling with their Indi­an col­le­agues. Neither the com­mu­ni­ty of Ger­man experts nor their Indi­an coun­ter­parts, howe­ver, can be unders­tood as homo­ge­neous groups. Both were com­po­sed of indi­vi­du­als and sub­groups with diver­ging, if not oppo­sing his­to­ries, opi­ni­ons and inte­rests. Among the Ger­man group, ten­si­ons seem to have been stron­gest bet­ween pro­fes­sors and tech­ni­ci­ans, and bet­ween experts on the ground in Chen­nai and the admi­nis­tra­tors in Germany.

Archival material on the history of IIT Madras in India

Important source mate­ri­al on the histo­ry of IIT Madras in India are found at the IIT Madras Heri­ta­ge Cent­re and among the admi­nis­tra­ti­ve docu­ments of IIT Madras, for which the insti­tu­te is curr­ent­ly set­ting up an archive.

The IIT Madras Heritage Centre

The IIT Madras Heri­ta­ge Cent­re was foun­ded in 2006 by reti­red IIT Madras Pro­fes­sor Ajit Kumar Kolar. It is loca­ted on the ground flo­or of the Admi­nis­tra­ti­on Buil­ding of IIT Madras and hou­ses a per­ma­nent exhi­bi­ti­on on the histo­ry of the institution.

The Heri­ta­ge Cent­re is not an archi­ve but has built up three important online coll­ec­tions rela­ted to the histo­ry of IIT Madras: the coll­ec­tion of his­to­ri­cal pho­to­graphs, annu­al reports and stu­dent publi­ca­ti­ons, and oral histo­ry interviews.

The coll­ec­tion of pho­to­graphs con­ta­ins about 15,000 pho­to­graphs of con­vo­ca­ti­ons, labo­ra­to­ries and work­shops, offi­ci­al visits of Indi­an and Ger­man sci­en­tists and poli­ti­ci­ans, as well as pho­to­graphs of ani­mals and plants on cam­pus. The meta­da­ta for the pho­to­graphs is often missing.

The coll­ec­tion of annu­al reports and stu­dent publi­ca­ti­ons con­ta­ins about 150 documents.

The Heri­ta­ge Cent­re has so far con­duc­ted 57 oral histo­ry video inter­views with for­mer facul­ty and alum­ni, of which 43 are available on the website.

Setting up the historical archive of IIT Madras

IIT Madras has star­ted the pro­cess of set­ting up its archi­ve. During a sur­vey on poten­ti­al archi­val hol­dings con­duc­ted in 2017 by Kuma­ran Sat­ha­si­v­am, Seni­or Exe­cu­ti­ve at the Heri­ta­ge Cent­re and mys­elf, we found lar­ge amounts of mate­ri­al which should be pre­ser­ved and made acces­si­ble for his­to­ri­cal rese­arch and the wider public. We envi­si­on the archi­ve at IIT Madras not just as an admi­nis­tra­ti­ve unit but as a vibrant hub that faci­li­ta­tes enga­ge­ment with facul­ty and stu­dents from a varie­ty of aca­de­mic fields in rese­arch and tea­ching projects.

To set up the archi­ve, a plan­ning com­mit­tee has been for­med with mys­elf as its chair and facul­ty advi­sor. An archi­ve pro­ject team will plan the phy­si­cal archi­ve and draft its gover­ning docu­ments over the cour­se of three years. The archi­ve pro­ject will be inau­gu­ra­ted as part of the 60th anni­ver­sa­ry cele­bra­ti­ons of IIT Madras in 2019. The his­to­ri­cal archi­ve as a per­ma­nent set­up, inclu­ding sto­rage faci­li­ties and a rea­ding room, is sche­du­led to open to the public by 2022. In addi­ti­on to the records of the cen­tral admi­nis­tra­ti­on and the aca­de­mic depart­ments and cen­tres, the IIT Madras His­to­ri­cal Archi­ve will coll­ect per­so­nal papers of pro­fes­sors and other key actors at IIT Madras. This will be done in col­la­bo­ra­ti­on with the oral histo­ry inter­views that have alre­a­dy been con­duc­ted by the IIT Madras Heri­ta­ge Centre.

IIT Madras in German archives

In com­pa­ri­son to Indi­an archi­ves or coll­ec­tions, lar­ge archi­ve hol­dings on the histo­ry of IIT Madras can be found in the Fede­ral Archi­ves of the Fede­ral Repu­blic of Ger­ma­ny, as well as in the archi­ve of the Tech­ni­cal Uni­ver­si­ty of Ber­lin. The­se rela­tively lar­ge, sys­te­ma­tis­ed hol­dings in the Fede­ral Archi­ves reflect the poli­ti­cal importance that was accor­ded to the project.

The Political Archive of the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin

The Poli­ti­cal Archi­ve of the Fede­ral For­eign Office in Ber­lin holds the oldest docu­ments on the Indio-Ger­man col­la­bo­ra­ti­on to set up IIT Madras sin­ce the pro­ject was orga­ni­zed initi­al­ly direct­ly under the For­eign Office. The docu­men­ta­ti­on starts with the initi­al offer made by the govern­ment of the Fede­ral Repu­blic of Ger­ma­ny to the Indi­an Govern­ment to sup­port an Indi­an Tech­ni­cal Insti­tu­te at a mee­ting bet­ween Neh­ru and Ade­nau­er in 1956 and the sub­se­quent India visit of the Rucker mis­si­on to start the plan­ning. The files of the Ger­man Con­su­la­te in Madras (AV Neu­es Amt – Gene­ral­kon­su­lat Chen­nai) are spe­ci­fi­cal­ly illu­mi­na­ting sin­ce the Con­su­la­te was cen­tral to the local coor­di­na­ti­on. The fol­ders, which are orga­nis­ed both chro­no­lo­gi­cal­ly and the­ma­ti­cal­ly, con­tain mee­ting pro­to­cols, reports, cor­re­spon­dence and news­pa­per clip­pings. They include docu­ments rela­ted to the ope­ning of the insti­tu­te and the arri­val of Ger­man facul­ty and staff, which was atten­ded by the consulate.

The archives of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in Koblenz

In 1961, the Minis­try for Eco­no­mic Coope­ra­ti­on and Deve­lo­p­ment (Bun­des­mi­nis­te­ri­ums für wirt­schaft­li­che Zusam­men­ar­beit und Ent­wick­lung) took over the plan­ning and admi­nis­tra­ti­on of the Ger­man enga­ge­ment at IIT Madras. The pro­ject ran into a cri­sis after the First Indo-Ger­man Agree­ment expi­red in 1964. A new agree­ment was only signed in 1966 after the coope­ra­ti­on was re-orga­ni­zed and the Madras-Com­mit­tee (Madras-Aus­schuss), con­sis­ting of repre­sen­ta­ti­ves of the minis­try and men­tor uni­ver­si­ties (the tech­ni­cal uni­ver­si­ties of Aachen, Ber­lin, Braun­schweig and Stutt­gart) took over plan­ning and administration.

The hol­dings of the Minis­try for Eco­no­mic Coope­ra­ti­on and Deve­lo­p­ment con­tain lar­ge amounts of mate­ri­al from the Madras-Com­mit­tee and other mate­ri­al rela­ted to the plan­ning and admi­nis­tra­ti­on of the col­la­bo­ra­ti­on from the mid 1960s onwards, inclu­ding fol­ders on the indi­vi­du­al labo­ra­to­ries to be set up, cor­re­spon­dence with Ger­man facul­ty and staff, reports from Ger­man facul­ty and visi­tors in Madras, and minu­tes of the mee­tings of the Madras-Com­mit­tee. The docu­ments include a series of drafts of the Indo-Ger­man govern­ment agree­ments and a detail­ed report of the sta­tus of IIT Madras as well as the gene­ral situa­ti­on of sci­en­ti­fic and tech­ni­cal edu­ca­ti­on in India, draf­ted in 1967.

The archive of the Technical University of Berlin

As the Tech­ni­cal Uni­ver­si­ty of Ber­lin was one of the men­tor insti­tu­ti­ons for IIT Madras, its archi­ve has com­pa­ra­tively lar­ge hol­dings on the coope­ra­ti­on, start­ing from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s, when the set-up pha­se had been com­ple­ted and the coope­ra­ti­on had been trans­for­med into a part­ner­ship. The hol­dings con­tain minu­tes of the mee­tings of the Madras-Com­mit­tee, reports from Ger­man facul­ty visi­ting IIT Madras, docu­men­ta­ti­on of col­la­bo­ra­ti­ve pro­jects, and bro­chu­res and reports sent by IIT Madras. A sec­tion of the mate­ri­al con­cerns acqui­si­ti­ons for the IIT Madras libra­ry, for which the libra­ry of the Tech­ni­cal Uni­ver­si­ty was a mentor.

The archi­ve of the Tech­ni­cal Uni­ver­si­ty of Ber­lin is so far the only uni­ver­si­ty archi­ve of any of the men­tor uni­ver­si­ties, whe­re lar­ger archi­val hol­dings on the coope­ra­ti­on with IIT Madras could be loca­ted. The uni­ver­si­ty archi­ve of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Braun­schweig has some mate­ri­al on Pro­fes­sor Robert Kraus, the first Ger­man coor­di­na­tor for IIT Madras bet­ween 1959 and 1964, befo­re the Madras-Com­mit­tee was set up. The uni­ver­si­ty archi­ve of the RWTH Aachen has some mate­ri­al on Hans A. Have­mann, Pro­fes­sor of Inter­na­tio­nal Tech­ni­cal Coope­ra­ti­on, who was cen­tral to the reor­ga­niza­ti­on of the col­la­bo­ra­ti­on in the mid-1960s.

Concluding remarks: Writing Indo-German history from German archives

The rich archi­val hol­dings on the Indo-Ger­man col­la­bo­ra­ti­on to set up IIT Madras in Ger­man archi­ves, tog­e­ther with the equal­ly rich mate­ri­al in India, allow us to wri­te ent­an­gled his­to­ries far bey­ond the insti­tu­tio­nal per­spec­ti­ve. They help us to extend our per­spec­ti­ves on the histo­ry of sci­en­ti­fic and tech­ni­cal edu­ca­ti­on in India and the for­ma­ti­on of the Indi­an engi­neer bey­ond the exis­ting nar­ra­ti­ves of the Bri­tish colo­ni­al engi­neer, MIT, and Sili­con Val­ley (Ram­nath 2017, Bas­sett 2009 and 2016, Shar­ma 2016).

The docu­ments at IIT Madras and the inter­views of the Heri­ta­ge Cent­re pro­vi­de for a histo­ry of IIT Madras from the per­spec­ti­ve of Indi­an actors while the files in the Ger­man archi­ves faci­li­ta­te a distinc­ti­ve view. Despi­te the rich­ness and avai­la­bi­li­ty of sources in Ger­man archi­ves, and the cir­cum­s­tance that set­ting up IIT Madras has been the lar­gest and most advan­ced tech­ni­cal edu­ca­ti­on pro­ject under­ta­ken by the Fede­ral Repu­blic of Ger­ma­ny out­side of Ger­ma­ny, its histo­ry has so far not attrac­ted any atten­ti­on among Ger­man his­to­ri­ans, not to men­ti­on his­to­ri­ans of sci­ence and tech­no­lo­gy. The trans­na­tio­nal bio­gra­phies of sci­en­tists and engi­neers like Robert Krauss and Hans A. Have­mann, who taught and work­ed in Bri­tain, Chi­na, Ger­ma­ny, India, and the United Sta­tes, and the glo­bal ambi­ti­ons of insti­tu­ti­ons like the Insti­tu­te for Inter­na­tio­nal Tech­ni­cal Coope­ra­ti­on in Aachen, buil­ding part­ner­ships from Tokyo to Ten­nes­see, and from Madras to Val­pa­rai­so, have so far left litt­le, if any, traces in histo­ry wri­ting. Such ent­an­gled his­to­ries would be cru­cial to faci­li­ta­te a more glo­bal under­stan­ding of the dyna­mics of 20th cen­tu­ry sci­ence and tech­no­lo­gy bey­ond the India-Ger­ma­ny binary.

Final­ly, a plea for archi­ves in India. A com­mon pat­tern I obser­ve is his­to­ri­ans of sci­ence and tech­no­lo­gy of and in India eit­her wal­king on the bea­ten track of (post)colonial archi­ves in the UK and other count­ries, or beco­ming them­sel­ves archi­vists in India – a third solu­ti­on is, of cour­se, not to look at archi­val mate­ri­al at all. We should not sub­sti­tu­te wri­ting colo­ni­al his­to­ries of sci­ence and tech­no­lo­gy from the Bri­tish Libra­ry with wri­ting post­co­lo­ni­al his­to­ries of India from Ger­man archi­ves. The more I read about IIT Madras in Ger­man archi­ves, the more it beco­mes a Ger­man sto­ry, the less it remains Indi­an. While the his­to­ri­an obvious­ly rejoices to find such rich archi­val sources on the histo­ry of IIT Madras in Ger­ma­ny, tru­ly ent­an­gled his­to­ries need more per­spec­ti­ves and voices, spe­ci­fi­cal­ly tho­se from Indi­an archives.


Bun­des­ar­chiv Koblenz
Bestand 213 – Bun­des­mi­nis­te­ri­um für wirt­schaft­li­che Zusam­men­ar­beit und Entwicklung

Heri­ta­ge Cent­re IIT Madras
Pho­to­graph Coll­ec­tion

Coll­ec­tion of Insti­tu­te Publi­ca­ti­ons

Oral Histo­ry Archi­ves

Poli­ti­sches Archiv des Aus­wär­ti­gen Amts Ber­lin
AV Neu­es Amt – Bestän­de des Gene­ral­kon­su­lats der Bun­des­re­pu­blik Deutsch­land in Madras (Chen­nai)
Bestän­de Zwi­schen­ar­chiv – Tech­ni­sche Hil­fe für Indi­en
Bestän­de Zwi­schen­ar­chiv – Indi­sche Tech­ni­sche Hoch­schu­le Madras
Bestand B 58:35 – Tech­ni­sche Lehranstalt

Uni­ver­si­täts­ar­chiv der Tech­ni­schen Uni­ver­si­tät Ber­lin
Bestand 111 Aka­de­mi­sches Auslandsamt


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MIDA Archi­val Refle­xi­con

Edi­tors: Anan­di­ta Baj­pai, Hei­ke Liebau
Lay­out: Mon­ja Hof­mann, Nico Putz
Host: ZMO, Kirch­weg 33, 14129 Ber­lin
Cont­act: archival.reflexicon [at]

ISSN 2628–5029