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Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis known as Father of Indian Statistics was born on 29th June 1893 in Bikrampur in Bengal (present day Bangladesh). His birthday is celebrated as National Statistics Day every year to honour his exceptional contributions to statistical research and economic planning.

He received his early schooling at Brahmo Boys School in Calcutta and then received Bachelor of Science degree with honours in Physics in 1912 from Presidency College. He continued his studies in physics in England at University of London.

His major contributions are the establishment of Indian Statistical Institute and the second five year plan.


After his tripos in physics, he worked with C.T.R. Wilson at the Cavendish Laboratory. Then on a short break he visited to India and was invited by the principal of Presidency College to take physics classes in the college. He accepted the proposal. Then on returning to England he got interested in Biometrika, a journal on statistics. He bought the whole set of it and returned to India. Many of his colleagues also got interested in statistics and on 17 December 1931, PC Mahalanobis with Pramatha Nath Banerji, Nikhil Ranjan Sen, and Sir RN Mukherjee established the Indian Statistical Institute and got it registered on 28th April 1932. In 1959 the institute was declared an institute of national importance.


For this, he invited many great economists from India and abroad to advise for the economic development of India. Many of these advisors were awarded Nobel Prize later.

On his advise, in the second five-year plan, the main importance was given to the heavy industrial sector with the viewpoint that small industries will grow simultaneously.


1.     Mahalanobis distance is one of the most widely used metrics to find how much the point diverges from distribution, based on measurements in different dimensions.

2.     His most important contributions are related to large-scale sample surveys. He introduced the concept of pilot surveys and advocated the usefulness of sampling methods.

3.     He started a journal, Sankhya which still serves as a respected forum for statisticians to discuss their ideas.

His contributions to the subject of statistics brought him international fame. In 1945 he was made a Fellow (member) of Britain’s Royal Society, one of the most prestigious organizations of scientists.

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