Page 10 - Science India August 2022
P. 10

Swatantrata ka Amrut Mahotsava
of zinc ore followed by downward distil- made up of Indian steel to create the
lation to obtain zinc metal. This was an great stone monuments. Wootz was ex-
innovative process utilising a tempera- ported to the Arab world and Europe for
ture of ~1200oC and extremely low oxy- making the famed Damascus swords un-
gen partial pressure. It is estimated that til the 17th century. High quality Indian
about one lakh ton of zinc was produced steel was even exported to England for
at Zawar during the 13-18th century. the construction of Menai Suspension
The copper statue of Gautam (1818) and Britannia Tubular Bridge
(1846). The technology, thus, survived
until the middle of the 19th century.
India was the first country to de-
The Geological Survey
velop a process for zinc metal produc-
of India was established
tion. Archeological evidences show that
in 1851 to create maps
zinc smelting began around 400 BCE.
Zinc production at Zawar, Rajasthan is
of mineral resources of
dated ~ 800 CE, which was expanded to
colonial India with the aim semi-industrial level by 1200 CE. The
to enrich the British empire process was based on reduction roasting
Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
    Image Courtesy: Rosemania/ Commons
Above: The 4th century coin of Samudragupta (in British Museum, London), speaks of the skills of ancient Indians to make alloys
Left: The 10th century Chola bronze Nataraja (at the Met Museum, New York), is another example of the felicity of Indians with the metals before the arrival of the British
Buddha (5th century) excavated from Sultanganj (in Bihar) and currently in Birmingham Museum describes the expertise of Indians in making pure
(99.7%) copper. It is estimated that dur- ing 1590−1895, about six million tons of copper ore were mined at the Khetri mines (Rajasthan) to produce about one lakh tons of copper metal.
Indians had mastered the art of making high quality alloys such as brass and bronze. The coin of Samudragupta (4th century), presently at the British Museum, and the statue of Nataraja (10th century), presently at the Metro- politan Museum, New York, serve as two examples of this mastery.
The English East India Company estab- lished the Geological Survey of India (GSI) in 1851 for the purpose of creating maps of mineral resources of colonial India. The aim of GSI was to enrich the British empire; its reports included pro- posals on how profitably the geological findings could be used for the benefit of the empire. The GSI also played an active role in guiding the governmen- tal policies on resource utilisation and conservation.

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