Born  : –  June 29, 1893, Kolkata, Bengal

Death  : – 28 June 1972, Kolkata, West Bengal

For his work  : – Mathematics, Statistics

Educational Institute  : – Presidency College, Kolkata;  Cambridge University, London

Famous  : – Mahalanobis’s fame is due to the “Mahalanobis distance” which is a statistical measure suggested by him.

Special Contribution  : – Establishment of Indian Statistical Institute

Prashant Chandra Mahalanobis  : –

  Prashant Chandra Mahalanobis was a famous Indian scientist and statistician.  He is known for drafting the Second Five-Year Plan of India.  He is also known for the “Mahalanobis distance” which is a statistical measurement suggested by him.  He established the ‘Indian Statistical Institute’ in Kolkata and contributed to the design of a large-scale sample survey.  After the independence of the country, he was made the statistical advisor of the newly formed cabinet.  They made plans to fulfill the government’s prime objective of ending unemployment.

Early Life  : – 

  Prashant Chandra Mahalanobis was born on 29 June 1893 at his ancestral residence in Kolkata.  His grandfather Gurcharan came from Bikrampur (now Bangladesh) to Kolkata in 1854 to establish his business.  His father Prabodh Chandra Mahalanobis was an active member of the ‘Ordinary Brahmo Samaj’ and his mother Nirodbasini belonged to a educated clan of Bengal.

  Prashant spent his childhood as a scholar and reformer and his early education was in the ‘Brahmo Boys School’ set up by his grandfather.  He also passed the matriculation examination in 1908 from this school.  After this, he did honors in Physics from the Presidency College in 1912 and went to London to pursue higher education.  In the Presidency College, teachers like Jagdish Chandra Bose, Sarada Prasanna Das and Prafulla Chandra Roy taught them.  Meghnad Saha was a class junior to him and Subhash Chandra Bose was a class 2 junior.

  Going to London, he enrolled in Cambridge and earned degrees from both Physics and Mathematics.  In Cambridge, he met the great Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan.  After his Trypos in Physics, he did TR in the Cavendish Laboratory.  Worked with Wilson.

  He then returned to Kolkata briefly, where he met the Principal of the Presidency College, who invited him to study physics there.

  After some time Pacific went back to England where someone asked him to study ‘Biometrika’.  It was a statistics journal.  He enjoyed reading it so much that he bought a set of it and took it with him to India.  After studying ‘Biometrika’, he came to know the utility of statistics in subjects such as anthropology and meteorology and started working on it only when he returned to India.

  In Kolkata, Prashant Chandra Mahalanobis met Nirmala Kumari, daughter of Herambhachandra Mitra.  Herambhachandra was a leading educationist and a member of the Brahmo Samaj.  On 27 February 1923, the two got married against the will of Herambhachandra.  Prashanth’s maternal uncle Sir Neelratan Sarkar performed the ritual of Kanya’s father.

Indian Statistical Institute  : –

  Many colleagues of Prashant Chandra Mahalanobis started taking an interest in statistics and gradually this group continued to grow.  All these people used to gather in Prashant’s Presidency College room.  The Indian Statistical Institute was established on 17 December 1931 and was formally registered on 28 April 1932.

  Initially the institute was run from the Physics Department of the Presidency College, but gradually as the members worked in this direction, the institute grew as well.

  The Institute’s journal ‘Number’ was established in 1933 on the lines of ‘Biometrika’.

  The training division of the institute was established in 1938.  In 1959, the Indian Statistical Institute was declared ‘Institute of National Importance’ and was given the status of ‘Deemed University’.

  Apart from Kolkata, the Indian Statistical Institute has branches in ten locations in India including Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Coimbatore, Chennai, Giridih.  It is headquartered in Kolkata, which mainly studies statistics.

Contribution to statistics  : –

  Prashant Chandra Mahalanobis started working on statistics under the direction of Acharya Brajendranath Seal and the first work he did in this direction was the analysis of college exam results.  He got a lot of success in this work.  Mahalanobis then analyzed the data collected about the Anglo-Indians of Kolkata.  This analysis and its result can be called the first paper of statistics in India.

  The greatest contribution of Mahalanobis is the concept of sample survey initiated by him.  Based on this, big policies and plans are being made in today’s era.

  Mahalanobis’s fame is also due to the ‘Mahalanobis distance’ which is a statistical measure suggested by him.

Honors & Awards  : –

  In 1944, he was awarded the ‘Weldon Medal’ award

  In 1945, the Royal Society of London appointed him as its Fellow

  In 1950, he was elected the President of the Indian Science Congress.

  Appointed Fellow of the Econometric Society of America

  Fellow of Pakistan Statistical Institute in 1952

  Appointed Honorary Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society (1954)

  In 1957, he was awarded the Devi Prasad All Rights Gold Medal.

  In 19 59, he was appointed an honorary fellow of King’s College.

  Was made Honorary President of International Statistical Institute in 1957

  Naka birthday, 29 June, is celebrated every year in India as ‘Statistics Day’

  In 1968, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India.

  In 1968, he was given the Srinivasa Ramanujam Gold Medal.

Death  : –

  Professor Prashant Chandra Mahalanobis was a visionary.  He used statistics for the welfare of the common people.  He never officially accepted a position because he did not like the bureaucracy’s interference in science.  He always wanted to see the Indian Statistical Institute as an independent institution.  He died on 28 June 1972.

Statistical day  : –

  In view of the remarkable contribution of Prashant Chandra Mahalanobis in the field of economic planning and statistical development of the country, his birthday, 29 June is celebrated every year as ‘Statistics Day’ in India.

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