Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis was an Indian scientist and statistician. He is best remembered for the Mahalanobis distance, a statistical measure, and for being one of the members of the first Planning Commission of free India.
He founded Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) in Kolkata on 17th December, 1931. The institute gained the status of an Institution of National Importance by an act of the Indian Parliament in 1959.
For his contributions, Mahalanobis has been considered the father of modern statistics in India.
Mahalanobis received his early schooling at the Brahmo Boys School in Calcutta, graduating in 1908. He joined the Presidency College, then affiliated with the University of Calcutta.
Mahalanobis received a Bachelor of Science degree with honours in physics in 1912. He left for England in 1913 to join the University of London.
In later life, Mahalanobis was a member of the planning commission contributed prominently to newly independent India's five-year plans starting from the second. In the second five-year plan he emphasized industrialization on the basis of a two-sector model.
His variant of Wassily Leontief's Input-output model, the Mahalanobis model, was employed in the Second Five Year Plan, which worked towards the rapid industrialisation of India and with other colleagues at his institute, he played a key role in the development of a statistical infrastructure. He encouraged a project to assess deindustrialization in India and correct some previous census methodology errors and entrusted this project to Daniel Thorner.
In the 1950s, Mahalanobis played a critical role in the campaign to bring India its first digital computers.
(With inputs from agencies)