Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis (1893 - 1972) was by far the most outstanding statistician that his country has ever produced. Educated in Calcutta and Cambridge, Mahalanobis trained originally as a physicist; his interest in statistics evolved from his preoccupation with the subcontinent's complex economic and cultural problems.
In 1931, having established a reputation as a consulting statistician, Mahalanobis set up the Indian Statistical Institute, then one of the few centres in the world to impart formal instruction in statistical theory and methods to researchers across diverse fields. Mahalanobis also founded Sankhya: The Indian Journal of Statistics.
After independence, he became one of Nehruvian India's institution-building titans and developed a model in planning known as the 'Mahalanobis model.' As the architect of India's Five Year Plans, Mahalanobis demonstrated his rare ability to use statistical tools in the service of such concerns as social and economic welfare. He also founded the National Sample Survey Organisation and the Central Statistical Organisation.
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