Section on Metals and Materials

No. of participants: About Sixty (including fifteen Artisans)
No. of Papers presented: Twenty One.
Keynote Addresses: Three
Plenary Sessions: One

Institutions Represented

S & T Institutions: InJian Institute of Technology Bombay, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, Regional Research Laboratory Bhopal, Regional Research Laboratory Trivandrum, National Metallurgical Laboratory, National Museum, Research and Development Centre - Steel Authority of India, University of California at Berkeley USA, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute Pune, Jawaharlal Nehru College Arunachal Pradesh, National Informatics Centre, Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems, Madras.

Voluntary Agencies

PPST Foundation Madras & Kerala, Gramin Vikas Sanstha, Wadrufnagar, Crafts Council of West Bengal, Crafts Council of India.

States Represented

Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Kerala.

Final Program of the Activities during the Congress
Metals and Materials Section

PLENARY TALK December 1, 1993

1. Professor S.Banerjee, Director, Res. and Dev. Centre for Iron and Steel Steel Authority of India Limited, Ranchi 834 002. on Metal Industries of Ancient India and its Relevance in the Present Context.

Conference Sessions

Iron and Steel I: 1125 - 1305 hrs, November 29

Chairperson : Professor G.N.Pant, National Museum Inst., of History of Art,
Conservation and Museumology, New Delhi.

2. S.Suresh and S.Vitta, IIT Bombay Some Properties of Iron Smelted in the Traditional Furnace.

3. B.P Mello, IIT Kharagpur Technology Alternatives and Lessons from Chinese Experiments.

4. A.K.Gupta, and B.K.Saxena, Regional Res. Lab, Bhopal Blacksmithy Technology for - Rural and Marginal Farmers: Technology Up gradation.

IRON AND STEEL II: 1125 -1305 hrs, November 30

Chairperson: Ms.T.Lowe, University of California, Berkeley, USA

5. KEYNOTE: G.N.Pant, National Museum Inst, of History of Art, Conservation and Museumology, New Delhi on the Saga of Indian Damascus Steel

6. K.K.Prasad, RDCIS - SAIL Ranchi Iron making Practice of the Tribal’s of Chotanagpur Area of Bihar. The Bishunpur Process,

7. A.K.Mishra, V.K.Dubey, and S.Sahasrabudhey, Gandhian Institute of Studies, Varanasi. Agariyas of Mirzapur

Iron and Steel III: 1125 - 1305 hrs, December 1

Chairperson: Professor S.Banerjee, Director, RDCIS, Steel Authority of India Limited,

8. KEYNOTE: T.Lowe, University,of California, Berkeley, USA on Deccani Wootz Process

9. V.H.Dirar, K.Aravindakshan and others, Kerala Studies on Iron Smelting Practice at Malbar

10. Vijaya Deshpande, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune on Musavidhyana
or the Science of Crucibles

11. C.Vivek, S.Waghuide.-and N.B.Ballal, IIT Bombay Experimental Studies on the
Indigenous Iron Smelting Furnace

Nonferrous Metals and Other Materials I: 1405-1505 hrs November 29

Chairperson: Professor B.D.Mello, IIT Kharagpur

12. R.M.Pillai, S.G.K.Piilai, A.D.Damodaran, and T.Ramachandran, RRL, Trivandrum. Tailoring/Exploitation of the Peculiarities of Speculum Metal by Kerala Artisans.

13. Y.P.Kohli, J.N.College, Pasighat, Arunachal pradesh The Craftsmanship of LOMAS (The Pioneers of Metal/Alloy Work in Arunachal Pradesh.

Nonferrous Metals and Other Materials II: 1405 - 1505 hrs November 30

Chairperson: Professor S.Venkatachalam, IIT Bombay

14. KEYNOTE: A.V.Balasubramanian, Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems, Madras on Indian Metallurgical Tradition - Retrospect and Prospect

15. S.Gosh, B.Dutta, S.K.Sinha, S.K.Sinahababu and G.N.Rao National Metallurgical Laboratory, Jamshedpur. Art effects through Investment Casting.

16. A.K.Gupta and B.K.Saxena, Regional Res Lab. Bhopal. Dokra Craft: Technological Up gradation.

Nonferrous Metals and Other Materials III: 1405-1505 hrs December 1

Chairperson: Dr.R.M.Pillai, Regional Res.Lab. Trivandrum

17. *Narendra G.Sheth and **M.P.Bhuskute, *128-C/F August Kranti Marg, Bombay 400 036, IIT Bombay on Synthesis and Studies of CHUMBAK MANI : An Ancfent Magnetic Material.

18. Maheswar Sharan, R.N.Singh, A.N.Tiwari, T.H.Ghori, A.Sunderasan and N.Seth, Department of Chemistry, IIT Bombay A Study on an Ancient Soft Ferrite Material -CHUMBAK MANI

19. *S.Ghosh, *S.K.Sinhababu, **S.Banerjee, 'National Metallurgical Laboratory, Jamshedpur and "RDCIS- SAIL, Ranchi on Traditional Rural Brass and Bell Metal Technology: Its Present Status.'

20. *T.K.Ghoshal, *S.Ghosh, **S.Banerjee *National Metallurgical Laboratory, Jamshedpur and *RDCIS-SAIL, Ranchi on Traditional Rural Brass and Bell Metal Technology vis-a-vis Developed Appropriate Technology: Techno-economic assessment.

21. C.S.R.Prabhu, National Informatics Centre, Hyderabad A Preliminary Report on the study and Investigation of some Ancient Scientific Shastras.

Panel Discussion on the Challenges Ahead in the Traditional Metal Industry: 0925 - 1055 arid 1125 - 1305, December 2 and 1125 - 1305, December 3

Chairperson: Shri Sunil Sahasrabudhey, Gandhian Institute of Studies, Varanasi.


1.Metallurgical Tradition of India PPST Foundation Madras,

2. The Deccani Wootz process by T.Lowe

3. The Malabar Process of Iron Smelting KAravindakshan V.H.Dirar and others

4. The Iron Smelting Process IIT Bombay.


1. Demonstration of Iron Making Furnace by Agariyas of Wadrufnagar Gandhian Institute Studies, Varanasi Gramin Vikas Kendra, Wadrufnagar

2. Demonstration of Dokra Craft of Eastern India Craft Council of West Bengal

3. Lost Wax process of South India Craft Council of India Metal

4. Mirror making process Craft Council of India

5. Metal Working of Bastar Craft Council of India

Films and Video-films

1. Niyaras of Mirzapur Prof Bhanu Prakash, BHU, Varanasi.

2. Making of the Aranmula Metal Mirror Dr.R.M.pillai, RRL, and Trivandrum.

3. Kadavaloor Plate Making Dr.R.M.Pillai, RRL, Trivandrum, to bring it with him

4. Traditional Indian Metallurgy MrAV.Balasubramanian, Sree Chakra Foundation

METALS AND MATERIALS: Highlights of the Congress Activities

Conference sessions were divided into two sub-sections:

(i) Iron and Steel and

(ii) Non-Ferrous and other Materials.

Several papers were presented on the Indigenous Iron smelting technology. During the deliberations, it came out that there is a product of the traditional industry which has superior properties and which is in great demand wherever it is produced, though in very small amounts. Characterization of this product and process is of great importance and the revival of the industry in a distributed fashion, wherever the knowledge exists, is a worthy effort. Interesting papers were presented on the Woods process, indicating the high level of technological sophistication and scientific enquiry which gave rise to this product. Much more needs to be done with regard to Metallurgical characterization and archaeological studies. There were interesting papers relating to the technological knowledge contained in several Sanskrit texts, especially related to Alchemy and Ayurveda. The paper on the science of crucibles evoked great interest. Sessions on Non-Ferrous metallurgy primarily concentrated on metal working techniques like Dhokra craft and the lost wax process, making of metal mirrors and utensils. Several papers talked about the efforts of modem technological inputs for increasing the profitability of the enterprise.

The last three sessions were devoted to a discussion on the current relevance of the traditional metallurgical practices. Tasks were identified for future plans among those working in the field of traditional metals and minerals in the area of iron smelting, the critical state and the practice of the smelting community, was discussed. There are only a few pockets of the Agarias and the related tribal families where the smelting is still carried out, as an enterprise for livelihood, and in many places this only gives employment during a small part of the year. These pockets are primarily located in the Sarguja, Raigarh, and Bastar districts of Madhya Pradesh, Sonabhadra district of Uttar Pradesh and Gumla and probably Palamau district of Bihar. Many families have given up the practice in recent times. Other areas such as Kerala have only a few surviving artisans, who have some knowledge of the process as was practiced in those places. Attempts at revival therefore are an urgent task.

Exhibitions of panels depicting (i) the highpoints of Indian Metallurgical tradition (PPST Foundation), (ii) the Deccani woods process (Thelma Lowe, Berkeley), (iii) the Malbar process of making iron (K.Aravindakshan and others from Kerala), and (iv) the iron smelting process highlights (IIT Bombay) were organized. Demonstration of the Iron smelting process by the Agariyas of Wadrufnagar evoked great interest. This was organised with the help of Gramin Vikas Samsta of Wadrufnagar and Gandhian Institute of Studies, Varanasi. The Craft Council of India and The Craft Council of West Bengal Organized demonstration of the Dokra Craft the lost wax process, metal mirror making and the iron working of Bastar.

Tasks for the Future

1. Efforts at the revival of the iron smelting industry and reconstruction wherever it has
already died, in the recent past The primary problem of the industry are the availability of the raw materials, especially good quality charcoal, on the one hand and education, organization (into panchayats, guilds, cooperatives) and empowerment of the smelting community on the other. Their problems need to be addressed urgently.

2. Study and the characterization of the process as practiced is of utmost importance, "before major technological inputs are provided for process enhancement, so that the essential character and advantages of the process and properties are not lost.

3. A thorough investigation of charcoal prepared from various trees and their behavior inside the furnace should be conducted.

4. Extensive tech no-socio-economic studies need to be conducted in the areas where large numbers of traditional smelters live to identify the human resource on which revival attempts can succeed. This also facilitates building a rapport with the community and establishment of the basic socio-economic needs of the community which would help in-any revival/reconstruction efforts.

5. The crucible process of making 'wootz' is of historic importance and of interest to material scientists,' ceramic specialists and geologists. This needs to be pursued."

6. In the area of metal working there is an urgent need for enhancement of the process. It is necessary .to establish linkages between science and technology establishments, field workers and artisans in .this effort and in providing technological inputs.

7. Projects need to be taken up to decipher and document information on metal and material processing equipments and techniques contained in Sanskrit sources. There is a need to explore literary sources in vernacular languages too.

8. Information linkages need to be maintained between various people working in the area of traditional metallurgical practices. This is especially important so that science and technological institutions can provide the necessary R&D, analytical and infrastructural help to those working in the field.

9. In the area of publicity and information dissemination, material needs to be prepared
for inclusion in school/college curriculum and for orientation workshops for professional metallurgists and field workers. It is necessary to establish, some scholarships to enthuse these students to take up work in this area.

10. The proceedings of the conference is to be brought out.

Coordination of Future Activities

1. Sunil Sahasrabudhey, Gandhian Institute of Studies, Raj ghat, Varanasi will coordinate the future activities of the group.

2. S & T establishments like NTs, BHU, RDCIS-SAIL, RRL's and institutions of Sanskrit language will participate in this activity. Field workers, social activists, voluntary -agencies and community leaders from various .regions, especially from Malabar, Adilabad, Bastar, Bishunpur, Jashpur, Wadrufnagar, Sonabhadra form the other important component of the group.

Recommendations on Policy issues

1. Inclusion of the traditional metallurgical industries, especially of iron smelting in the village industries list.

2. Provision for leasing of land to organisations of smelters/metal workers to fulfill their requirement of fuel.

* Dept. of Metallurgical Engineering
I.I.T. Powai, BOMBAY-400 076.

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