PC Mahalanobis Biography
Birth: June 29, 1893, Kolkata, Bengal
The death: June 28, 1972, Kolkata, West Bengal
Scope of work: Mathematics, Statistics
educational institutions: Presidency College, Kolkata; Cambridge University, London
Story of Jawaharlal Nehru
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
( PC Mahalanobis Biography ) 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 to the newly formed cabinet. They made plans to fulfill the government’s prime objective of ending unemployment.
early life | PC Mahalanobis Biography
Prashant Chandra Mahalanobis was born on 29 June 1893 at his ancestral residence in Kolkata. His grandfather Gurcharan came to Kolkata from Bikrampur (now Bangladesh) 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 doing 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 ceremony of the girl’s father.
Indian Statistical Institute
Many of Prashant Chandra Mahalanobis’s colleagues 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, under the direction of Acharya Brajendranath Seal, started working on statistics 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 biggest contribution of Mahalanobis is the concept of ‘sample survey’ started by him. Based on this, big policies and plans are being made in today’s era.
Mahalanobis’ 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 ‘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 Srinivas Ramanujam Gold Medal.
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 interference of bureaucracy in science. He always wanted to see the Indian Statistical Institute as an independent institution. He died on 28 June 1972.
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 in India as ‘Statistics Day’.
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