Prof. Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis: Father of Indian Statistics

Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis

About Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis

Taking about the usage of statistics in India, Google played a crucial role when it paid the homage of Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis on his 125th anniversary. P.C. Mahalanobis was the man who achieved a lot in the field of science and statistics by giving a measure term called Mahalanobis distance.

The things that made him popular were his essential role in the evolution of the public division and rapid industrialization during India’s second five-year strategy (1956-61). He founded the Indian Statistical Institute to meet the management’s principal aspiration of settling unemployment through accelerated automated production.

After giving the Mahalanobis distance to the world, he put his feet in as statistics advisor to the anew created ministry after India’s sovereignty. To remember the contribution of economic outlining and statistics development of India, the government of India celebrates P.C. Mahalanobis’s birthday on June 29. For the awareness of the young generation, the World celebrates this day as an inspiration.

#Childhood and Early Life of P.C. Mahalanobis

Born on 29 June 1893, Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis was an integral part of an academically oriented subdivision in19th century who was living in Calcutta, Bengal, and British India. He was the 8th member of the couple’s relatively wealthy and influential family. His father, Prabodh Chandra Mahalanobis, worked as a member of the ordinary Brahmo Samaj. His mother, Nirodbasini belonged to a well-educated family.

Mahalanobis’s grandfather, Gurucharan, was a prominent educator and reformer, which gave him an intellectually energetic atmosphere. He did his schooling at the Brahmo Boys School in Calcutta, and then he graduated in 1908 from this school. After doing the Physics Honors from Presidency College in Calcutta, Mahalanobis went to London for further study and took admission in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge.

In King’s school, teachers like Jagdish Chandra Bose, Sarada Prasanna Das, and Prafulla Chandra Roy helped him to achieve the degree in both Physics and Math. He received a meeting with the great Mathematician, Shrinivasa Ramanujan.

Also Read: Har Gobind Khorana: The Nobel Laureate

#Career Life

 Before working in the Cavendish Laboratory with T.R. Wilson, Mahalanobis completed his Tripos in Physics. After returning to India, the Principal of Presidency College asked him to join the college as a Physics lecturer. Having an interest in theoretical statistics, Mahalanobis read the book named Biometrika, a magazine issued by Oxford University Press for the Biometrika Trust. Acharya Brajendranath Seal boosted his confidence in the analysis of statistics. He succeeded in this field when he examines the statistics of college results. After that, he made his mind to teach the students of Presidency College as a Physics lecturer. Then, he taught Physics for the next three decades and that did not deter him to keep his interest away from statistics.

He came into the light when the director of the ‘Zoological and Anthropological Survey of India, Nelson Annadale, asked him to make the research on anthropometric measurements on Anglo-Indians of Calcutta. Further, he made up his mind to set the laboratory with his friends at Presidency College. And then, he founded the first statistical university known as Indian Statistical Institute in 1932. That group founded the training department of the institute in 1938. In 1959, the Indian Statistical Institute was declared the Institute of National Importance. Now, there are many branches of ISI in India including Delhi, Pune, Coimbatore, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Giridih.

#Major Works and Achievements

Professor P.C. Mahalanobis’s most prominent enrichment is the Sample Survey, which is contributing a pivot role to make the big policies and plans. The first sample on which he started the analysis data of jute crop on a specific area and explained the way to increase the crop. By his work in statistics, Mahalanobis proffered numerous prestigious global positions, including a consignment as the chairman of the UN Sub-Commission on Sampling from 1947 to 1951.

In 1944, Mahalanobis received the Weldon Medal award. In 1945, the Royal Society of London elected him the Fellow. After that, he was elected as the President of the Indian Science Congress in 1950. He received the honor of Devi Prasad All Rights Gold Medal in 1957. His most significant achievement came in 1968 when he awarded the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India.

#Personal Life and Legacy

In Calcutta, Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis foregathered Nirmala Kumari, the daughter of Herambhachandra Mitra. Herambhachandra Mitra was the leading educationist and member of the Brahmo Samaj. But her father denied their marriage and they went against him and got married on 27 February 1923. On 28 June 1972, the Guru of statistics died, a day before his 79th birthday.


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