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How India taught the world the art of collecting data

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Syllabus: Post Independence



June 29, is national ‘Statistics Day’, in ‘recognition of the contributions made by Prof. Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, the ‘Plan Man’ of India.

Father of Indian statistics :

  • Mahalanobis certainly believed data to be instrumental in efficient planning for national and human development.
  • Mahalanobis established the Statistical Laboratory within the Baker Laboratory at Presidency College.
  • In 1933, Mahalanobis founded Sankhyā, the Indian Journal of Statistics.
  • Founded the Indian Statistical Institute.

His relations with Rabindranath Tagore:

  • Seventeen-year-old Mahalanobis first met Tagore at Santiniketan in 1910.
  • Mahalanobis wrote a series of essays titled ‘Rabindra Parichay’ (‘Introduction to Rabindra’) for the prestigious Bengali magazine, Probashi. He also wrote a book, Rabindranath Tagore’s Visit to Canada in 1929
  • He not only served as a joint secretary of Visva Bharati for 10 years from the beginning but he was also a member of the governing body, executive council, academic council, and the agricultural board.
  • Tagore’s dance drama, ‘Basanta’ (meaning ‘Spring’), had a premiere at the Calcutta University institute auditorium on Mahalanobis’ marriage day.


  • Mahalanobis-type innovation, dedication, and diligence are much needed today.

Contribution to the World:

  • The World Bank and the United Nations now use the methods pioneered by him.


Current Affairs

Source: The Hindu, BBC