Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis did his MSc from University of Cambridge, UK specializing in Statistics. He served as the Professor of Physics and Principal, Presidency College; Head, Statistics Department, University of Calcutta (1941-45); Chief Executive Secretary and Director, Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta; Hony Statistical Adviser, Government of India (1949); Member, Planning Commission (1953-67); General Secretary, Vishvabharati (1921-31)
Academic and Research Achievements: Mahalanobis estimated the acreage and crop yield by random sampling, and carried out national sample surveys for collecting socio-economic data, consumer expenditure, public opinion, and other data. He did pioneering work in the design of sample surveys and organization of fieldwork and tabulation of records for which he received wide recognition. “Mahalanobis Distance” is widely used in taxonomical classifications.
Other Contributions: Mahalanobis played a key role in formulating the Second Five Year Plan. He was the Chairman, UN Statistical Commission (1954-58). His monumental contribution lay in the founding of the Indian Statistical Institute. He was the Founder-editor of Sankhya.
Awards and Honours: Mahalanobis is a recipient of Weldon Medal (University of Oxford) (1944), Sir Devi Prasad Sarvadhikari Gold Medal (1957), Durgaprasad Khaitan Gold Medal (1961), Gold Medal of Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (1963); Srinivasa Ramanujan Medal of INSA (1968) and Padma Vibhushan (1968). He was the Fellow, Royal Society of London, Econometric Society (USA), American Statistical Association and Pakistan Statistical Association; Hony Fellow, Royal Statistical Society, London and King’s College, Cambridge; Hony President, International Statistical Institute (1957); Foreign Member, USSR Academy of Sciences and Fellow Member, World Academy of Arts and Science. Mahalanobis was General President, Indian Science Congress Association (1950) and President, INSA (1957-58).
The Indian National Science Academy has instituted the ‘Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis Medal’ in his honour.