South Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - Broadcasting Development: Communication Satellites and Scientific Expertise in Post-Independence India (1960-75)

Friday, July 6
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Cypress, New Building

This paper will track the development of the outer space programme in post-independence India by specifically focusing upon the arrival of the communication satellite technology. It will follow the travels and travails of a team of business and science experts at multiple levels ─as they participate in transnational policy-making discourses, set up satellite earth stations and television sets, and brainstorm ideas for screening developmental television programmes. It will situate these discourses and practices against the utopic rhetorics that the post-Sputnik world of extra-terrestrial technologies had augured, and the larger spatial logic that the optical gaze of the satellite as a technology operating ‘from above’ entailed. The paper intends to unpack the potentialities and anxieties that such ambitious projects carried from their inception, and the opportunities, failures and the fear of obsolescence that marked the subsequent materialization of these projects on the ground. The arguments hope to conceptually interrogate these findings to understand how technological imaginations and collaborations were brokered and conceived in the early decades of post-independence India, against the backdrop of a post-World War II - Cold War-driven logic of international development. This paper is part of a larger research thesis which aims to critically track the emergence of figures such as the “scientific visionary” or the “business/entrepreneurial expert” in mid-20th century India, and their simultaneous production in the form of the classic male hero of postcolonial regimes.  

Kena Wani

Duke University, United States

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3 - Broadcasting Development: Communication Satellites and Scientific Expertise in Post-Independence India (1960-75)



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