Book Launch: Instrumental Lives

February 18, 2020 @ 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
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CTARA and CPS invite you to the release of and discussion on Prof. Pankaj Sekhsaria’s new book Instrumental Lives – an intimate biography of an Indian laboratory as part of CTARA’s weekly seminar series. 

Program Outline:

5.30 pm: Release of the book by Prof Satish Agnihotri, Head, CTARA and Prof Shishir Jha, Head, CPS

5.40 pm: Presentation on the book by the author, Prof Pankaj Sekhsaria (35 minutes)

6.15 pm: Responses to the book (10 mins each):

  1. i) Dr Veenita Shah, Research Scientist, Department of Educational Technology, IIT Bombay
  2. ii) Prof SB Agnihotri, Head, CTARA, IIT Bombay

Book Abstract: 

Instrumental Lives – an intimate biography of an Indian laboratory (Routledge 2019) is an account of instrument making at the cutting edge of contemporary science and technology in a modern Indian scientific laboratory. For a period of roughly two-and-half decades, starting in the late 1980s, a research group headed by CV Dharmadhikari in the physics department at the Savitribai Phule Pune University fabricated a range of scanning tunneling and scanning force microscopes including the earliest such microscopes made in the country. 

Not only were these instruments made entirely in-house, research done using them was published in the world’s leading peer reviewed journals, and students who made them went on to become top class scientists in premier institutions. 

The book uses qualitative research methods such as open-ended interviews, historical analysis and laboratory ethnography to present the micro-details of this instrument making enterprise and locate scientific research and innovation within the larger social, political and cultural context. It also asks important questions of the dominant narratives of innovation that remain fixated on quantitative metrics of publishing, patenting and generating commerce. 

The presentation by the author, Pankaj Sekhsaria, will simultaneously be the story of the lab as it will be a story of his own journey of engaging and understanding the lab and its constituents and the eventual telling of the story.

About the Author: 

Pankaj Sekhsaria is Associate Professor, Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA) & Associate Faculty, Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), IIT-Bombay. He has a PhD in Science and Technology Studies (STS) from Maastricht University, the Netherlands, where he worked on the ‘Cultures of innovation’ in nanoscience and technology research in India. He is also a member of the environmental action group, Kalpavriksh, and author, The Last Wave (HarperCollins India, 2014) and Islands in Flux – the Andaman and Nicobar Story (Harper Litmus India 2017, 2019).


February 18, 2020
5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Event Category:


LC 301, LHC
IIT Bombay



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