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Paying tribute to a data-god

Staff Reporter

Prof.Mahalanobis is remembered on National Statistics Day


He played key role in formulating the 2nd five-year plan

He established the National Sample Survey in 1950


VISAKHAPATNAM: June 29 is designated as National Statistics Day in recognition of the notable contributions of Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis to economic planning and development of statistics in the post-independence era. The objective of the day is to create awareness among people, especially the younger generation, so as to draw inspiration from the late Prof. Mahalanobis about the role of statistics in socio economic planning and policy formulation, according to C.N.Sastry, assistant director of National Sample Survey Organisation’s Sub-Regional office here.

Important discoveries

Prof.Mahalanobis went to England in 1913 and completed his Tripos in Mathematics and Physics from King’s College, Cambridge. In 1924, he made important discoveries pertaining to probable error of results of agricultural experiments. At the request of the Indian Government, he undertook some work on prevention of floods in various regions of the country.

He was able to demonstrate that estimates based on sample surveys were often more accurate than those based on complete enumeration.

Weldon Medal

He was elected Chairman of the United Nations Sub Commission on Statistical Sampling in 1947. He received the Weldon Medal from Oxford University in 1944 and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society, London, in 1945.

Prof.Mahalanobis believed that statistics should be an integral part of the dynamics of national planning and played a key role in formulating the country’s second five-year plan based on the four-sector model developed by him. During the last decade of his life he devised a statistical method for comparison of socio economic conditions. He established the National Sample Survey (NSS) in 1950. He became the honorary president of the International Statistical Institute in 1957. He received the Padma Vibhushan, from the president of India in 1968.

In 1970, NSS was reorganised and National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) was formed. A 16-member Steering Committee, which includes eight non-officials of eminence, oversees the functioning of the organization. Headed by the director general and chief executive officer, the NSSO has four divisions: Survey Design and Research, Field Operations, Data Processing and Coordination and Publication.

Annual surveys

In Field Operations, data is collected through annual survey of industries, socio economic surveys and price collection surveys, updating of urban frames survey blocks, sample check on area enumeration and crop-cutting experiments, among other things. The Data Processing Division with headquarters at Kolkata and six data processing centres across the country provides complete IT solutions from sample selection, software development to processing and tabulation of data.

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