World Famous Indian Statistical Institute – situated at Baranagar, Kolkata – A Concise Documentation
Voice-over: Jayanta Baksi
বরানগরের গর্ব পৃথিবী বিখ্যাত ইন্ডিয়ান স্ট্যাটিসটিক্যাল ইনস্টিটিউট
17th December 1931. Another diamond studded feather sensitively caught up into the golden crown of Baranagar. The Indian Statistical Institute (I.S.I.) was established by an Indian scientist and applied statistician, Professor Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis [29.06.1893 – 28.06.1972] FRS, at none other than in Baranagar, located [ 22°38′56″N 88°22′37″E / 22.648810°N 88.377058°E / 22.648810; 88.377058 ] in the northern fringe of the metropolis of Kolkata. This institute is considered as one of the leading centers in the world dedicated for training and research in statistics and prop up the interaction of statistics with natural and social sciences through collaborative research effort.
In 1931, at the time of Prof. Mahalanobis, statistics was a comparatively new scientific turf; it was till then, loosely affiliated with the University of Calcutta. Although the Department of Statistics is small in size and relatively young it was at one time the premier statistics department in the country & is still very well known. Originally it was started as a Statistical Laboratory by Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis in the Physics Department of the Presidency College in 1920s. Later, it housed the ISI before the institute moved to Baranagar. At this time, Professor Mahalanobis was the only person functioning for ISI and dealt with an annual expenditure of Rs. 250/- only.Several colleagues of Prof. Mahalanobis won an interest in statistics and the group grew in the Statistical Laboratory. A meeting was called on the 17 December 1931 with Pramatha Nath Banerji (Minto Professor of Economics), Nikhil Ranjan Sen (Khaira Professor of Applied Mathematics) and Sir R. N. Mukherji. This meeting led to the establishment of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), and formally registered on 28 April 1932 as a non-profit distributing learned society under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860.
Later, it was registered under the West Bengal Societies Registration Act XXVI of 1961 amended in 1964. It gradually grew with the pioneering work of a group of his colleagues including S. S. Bose, J. M. Sengupta, R. C. Bose, S. N. Roy, K. R. Nair, R. R. Bahadur, G. Kallianpur and D. B. Lahiri. The first President was Sir R. N. Mukherji & Honorary Secretary was Prof. P.C.Mahlanobis. In later phase, eminent personalities sworn into the chair of President, such as – Sir Edward Bunsal [1926–1944], Sir James Ridfea [1939– 1940], Sir Badridas Goenka [1941–1942], Sir Nilratan Sarkar [1942–1944], Prof. Chintamoni Dwarakanath Deshmukh [1944–1964] etc. The institute also gained major assistance through Pitamber Pant, who was a secretary to the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Pant was trained in statistics at the Institute and took a keen interest in the institute.
The ISI was relocated to a property owned by Professor Mahalanobis, sited in a sprawling 30-acre estate on the Barrackpore Trunk Road (B.T. Road) in the Baranagore named “Amrapali”. Formerly, this place was known as “Nainan’s Promode Kanan”. The dust of the feet of SriSri. Ramkrishna Paramhansma can be traced here as he arrived & makes an imprint at “Nainan’s Promode Kanan”. At that time, there was a well-known film making studio exists in this place. Prof. Mahalanobis & his wife Mrs. Nirmalkumari [Nee – Rani] Mahalanobis was the dweller of “Mukh Bodhir Vidyalaya” [Deaf & Dumb School, Estd. 1960] in Baranagar situated at 265/19, Gopal Lal Tagore Road, Baranagar, next to Tobin Road & Gopal Lal Tagore Road crossing. Previously, it’s name was ‘Sashi Villa’, Rabindra Nath Tagore renamed it as ‘Netrokona’. Rabindra Nath often visited [Till 04th November 1937] their abode & resided with them at ‘Netrokona’, their abode & wrote a few poems.
Whilst Rabindra Nath takes notice about the information that the ISI is positioned in a lush green plot & mostly occupied with mango trees and probably due to that rationale, he chosen the name of Institute as “Amrapali” after a sacred Buddhist sanctuary, prior to its construction was over, though he never stopover at “Amrapali”. Initially it was an old garden house, which was purchased by Prasanta Chandra and then remodeled, much in the style of the Udayana building at Santiniketan.
There was a cordial relationship in between Prof.Mahalanobis & Rabindra Nath Tagore prior to Baranagar episode. Prof.Mahalanobis belonged to a family of Bengali landed gentry who lived in Bikrampur [now in Bangladesh]. His grandfather Gurucharan Mahalanobis (1833-1916) moved to Calcutta in 1854 and built up a business, started a chemist shop in 1860. Gurucharan was influenced by Sri.Debendranath Tagore (1817-1905), father of the Nobel poet, Rabindranath Tagore. Gurucharan was actively involved in social movements such as the ‘Brahmo Samaj’, acting as its Treasurer and President. His residence was on 210 Cornwallis Street [presently Bidhan Sarani] was the center of the Brahmo Samaj.
Gurucharan married a widow against social traditions. His elder son Prof.Subodhchandra Mahalanobis (1867-1954) was the father of P. C. Mahalanobis. Subodhchandra was a distinguished educationist who studied physiology at Edinburgh University. [Subodhchandra Returned to India from England in 1900 and joined the Bengal Education Service & was posted at Presidency College as the Head of the Department of Biology, which was at that time composed of Human Physiology and Botany, in the same year (This department was founded in 1900). In 1902, study of Human Physiology started as a separate course at this college, which was officially recognized in 1903 by the University of Calcutta. On the Founders’ Day, i.e. 20 January, in 1913, the new building for science subjects, later named as Baker Laboratories, was formally inaugurated and the Department of Human Physiology was shifted to the second floor of the new building. In 1915, the Calcutta University started the M.Sc. in Human Physiology in this department and later became a Professor at the Presidency College became head of the department of Physiology. Subodhchandra also became a member of the Senate of the Calcutta University].
Born in this house, P. C. Mahalanobis grew up in a socially active family surrounded by intellectuals and reformers. Mahalanobis received his early schooling at the ‘Brahmo Boys School’ [Estd.1859] in Calcutta graduating in 1908; joined the Presidency College, Calcutta and received a B.Sc. degree with honours in physics in 1912; left for England in 1913 to join Cambridge, however missed a train and stayed with a friend at King’s College, Cambridge. He did well in his studies, also took an interest in cross-country walking and punting on the river. He interacted with the mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan during the latter’s time at Cambridge. After his Tripos in physics, Mahalanobis worked with C. T. R. Wilson at the Cavendish Laboratory. He took a short break and went to India and here he was introduced to the Principal of Presidency College and was invited to take classes in physics.
In the year of 1911, Rabindra Nath visited this habitation, where Prof. Mahalanobis recite the poem ‘Achalayatan’. Rabindra Nath strongly opposed concerning the massacres of Jalianwalabag, Punjab in 1919. [13th November, 1913, Indians came to know that the Nobel Prize for literature had been awarded to Tagore for Gitanjali. On 26th Decemeber, University of Calcutta conferred on him the honorary degree of “D.Litt.”; received Knighthood in 1915]. When he was writing a historic letter to Governor General Lord Chelmsford disclaiming his Knighthood in protest, Prof. Mahalanobis was alongside with the poet.
In the year of 1921, the 22nd December, “Visva-Bharati” [Inaugurated December 23, 1921. Visva-Bharati’s Motto: Yatra visvam bhavatyekanidam (Vedic text), Where the world makes a home in a single nest.] was reclaimed and officially declared as a Public Institution. Rabindra Nath gave all his money from Nobel Prize and royalty money from his books to this University. In this University, Rabindra Nath sworn as founder President, Rathindra Nath Tagore (the son of Rabindra Nath) & Prof. Mahalanobis were taken oath as joint Secretary. Prof. Mahalanobis performed his duty efficiently as secretary till the inception of ISI -1931.
After turn up from England, a novel relationship was built up involving Prof. Mahalanobis & Nirmalkumari, daughter of Prof. Heramba Chandra Moitra [The North City College was founded as a school in the year 1879 A.D. and was raised to a college in the year 1881 by a band of patriotic and self-less workers of Sadharan Brahmo Samaj headed by the late Ananda Mohan Bose, Sivnath Shastri, Umeshchandra Dutta, Heramaba Chandra Moitra & others. Prof. Heramba Chandra Moitra, the Principal of City College, had the distinction of being made a University Professor and received an honourary D. Litt from Calcutta University in 1931. A pious Brahmo and a devout theologian, he was an adoring pupil of Charles Tawney. A staunch puritan, he was steeped in Carlyle, Emerson and Wordsworth].
There relationship turns up into affection. But, Prof. Moitra was absolutely against of such bonding. The contention was partly due to of various Mahalanobis’ opposition clauses in the membership of the student wing of the Brahmo Samaj, including restraining members from drinking and smoking. In 1909, Nirmal kumari was in bed ridden state due to poor health & her condition was really serious. At this time, Rabindra Nath finished his legendary poetical work ‘Lipika’. Prof. Mahalanobis arrived beside the bed of Nirmalkumari with the copy of ‘Lipika’ & recite those verses one after another from it. Astonishingly, Nirmalkumari, get rid of her all sufferings.Prof. Moitra realizes about their deep & affable connection & grant consent of their marriage, nevertheless he notified that the parents [Mrs. & Prof. Moitra] will not be present in that particular matrimonial ceremony.
Renowned physician, Dr.Nilratan Sarkar (01.10.1861 to 18.05.1943) [Dr.Nilratan Sarkar was a medical practitioner, philanthropist, an educationist and entrepreneur. His father Nandalal Sarkar came from a poor kayastha family of Jessore and settled later at Joynagar, Khulna. Born on 1 October 1861 at Netra in the district of 24-Parganas, passed the Entrance examination in 1876 from the local school and received the vernacular diploma in medicine in 1879 or 1880 from the Campbell medical school. He graduated in 1885 and taught in a school for sometime. He took his MB, MA and MD degrees from the Calcutta University successively in 1888, 1889 and 1890. In 1888 Nilratan married Nirmala, the daughter of Girishchandra Majumdar, a Brahma missionary of East Bengal and became a Brahma. He founded a non-Government College for medicine in 1895, which came to be known as Calcutta Medical School and College of Physicians and Surgeons of Bengal in 1904. The school branch gave training for 4 years in vernacular while the other section gave instructions through the medium of English for five years. The later section was transformed into a full-fledged Medical College known as the Carmichael Medical College in 1916 and received university recognition in 1917. In 1918, the ‘Medical Education Society’ was formed to conduct the affairs of this school. Nilratan became its president in 1922 and remained in the position till 1941. He was one of the enthusiastic founders of the Science College of the Calcutta University and the National Council of Education, which was formed during the anti-partition movement in Bengal. He was closely associated with the INDIAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE CULTIVATION OF SCIENCE] was the maternal uncle of Prof. Moitra and finally, in the day of 27th February 1923, at Dr.Sarkar’s residence, the marriage ceremony was successfully accomplished in presence of Rabindra Nath Tagore. In this occasion, Rabindra Nath harmonic a song, blessed the newly married couple & gifted a signed copy of ‘Basanta’.
It is not commonly known that Rabindranath Tagore, who is often called the monsoon poet, had indeed written some of his poems at the Alipore Observatory in Kolkata, where he often lived as a guest of the meteorologist, Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis. Tagore had been encouraging Mahalanobis to pursue statistics, which he in fact did. The India Meteorological Department lost Mahalanobis as he left meteorology and went on to do pioneering and fundamental work in statistics and later established the Indian Statistical Institute at Kolkata in 1931. Prof. and his wife, Nirmal Kumari, known affectionately as Rani Mahalanobis, regularly played hosts to Tagore at their official residence on the first floor of the Alipore Observatory building. Tagore had a room for himself, but he preferred the shade of the giant banyan tree that it overlooked, under which he sat and penned his literary masterpieces.
It was in the fitness of things, that Rabindranath Tagore, the Monsoon Poet, drew his inspiration from clouds and rain in the campus of a meteorological observatory! Tagore’s room at Alipore has now been converted into a small museum which houses some of his memorabilia and the banyan tree continues to stand at the hallowed spot in homage to his memory. A rare digital retouched photograph of Rabindranath Tagore with Prasanta Chandra and Nirmal Kumari Mahalanobis sitting under the banyan tree at Alipore Observatory is providing. The photograph was taken in 1926 and has been digitally enhanced. It is displayed in the room of the Deputy Director General of Meteorology, Regional Meteorological Centre, Alipore, Kolkata.
According to the aspiration of Rabindra Nath, Mrs. & Prof. Mahalanobis visited assorted places of Europe alongwith Rabindra Nath in the year of 1926, which is legendary as poet’s “Europe Bhraman”. In this phase, they have visited Italy, Switzerland, Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, England, Norway, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Rumania, Greece, Egypt & Sweden.
At this juncture, Rabindra Nath meets up with celebrities like Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, John Boyer etc. Detailed portrayals engraved by Rani Mahalanobis in her book “Kobir sathe Europe”.
Impact of Rabindra Nath on Prof.Mahalanobis moreover could be traced even in the decade of 60’s & 70’s in one of the unpublished article of Prof.Mahalanobis ‘Adhunik Bharate Thakurer Provab’.
Prof. illustrates about the impact of Rabindra Nath’s philosophy, thinking & view point on Indian traditional heritage. On 10th September, 1937, Rabindra Nath was in poor health badly at Santiniketan; moved to Calcutta on 12th October at the residence of Prof.Mahalanobis of Baranagar. He was under the charming and class care of Rani Mahalanobis. Within this span of 3 weeks [14th October to 04th November 1937] numerous dignitaries arrived at ‘Sashi Villa’ of Baranagar, to view Kobiguru Rabindra Nath.
Prof.Mahalanobis evaluates the ancient ‘Jaina Philosophy’ in the midst of ‘Theory of Probability’ and compares the practical statistical out–look. A brief contribution of Prof. Mahalanobis in Statistical Science can be sum up as follows:
- 1. Foundation of Indian Statistical Institute;
- 2. Mahalanobis Distance;
- 3. Meteorological Research;
- 4. Early Examples of Operations Research – which he actually meant for Research & Flood Control;
- 5. Educational Tests;
- 6. Errors in Field Experimentations;
- 7. Large Scale Sample Survey;
- 8. Perspective Planning;
- 9. Froctile Graphical Analysis;
- 10. Indian Journal of Statistics [Sankha series];
- 11. Mechanized data Processing and Computational Mathematics;
- 12. Statistical Quality Control and Operations Research for Indian Industries;
- 13. Data Acquisition and Analysis of Natural Science and Social Science.
However, he is best remembered for the ‘Mahalanobis distance’, a statistical measure. Prof.Mahalanobis never wishes to perceive India as Super Power; rather his vision was to the development & maturity of modern and contemporary science & technology as per the Indian perspective to eradicate anarchy, oppression, meagerly and so on.
ISI was officially founded in the year of 1931, however it was in his psyche from 15 years back to the inception of ISI. In the year of 1916 he described about his desire to one of his relative. He expressed in that letter that in Cambridge, he wish to study Physics, Mathematics, Psychologhy, Physiology, Social Science, Economics, Educational Science, Physical Science, Astronomy, Philosophy, Statistics, Archaeology, Art of Drawing, Modern Literature, Sanskrit etc. As he didn’t turn back to Cambridge, ultimetly founded ISI & in ISI apart from Sanskrit, mostly all other’s subjects were studied to some extent & as per international standard.
In 1933, the journal “Sankhya” was also founded along the lines of “Karl Pearson”’s “Biometrika”. The Indian Statistical Institute publishes Sankhya, the Indian Journal of Statistics, founded by Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis in 1933. He was the editor of Sankhya till his gloomy demise. Currently , Sankhya is published in a two series format. Broadly, Series A covers Mathematical Statistics and Probability, while Series B covers Applied and Interdisciplinary Statistics. Reviews and discussion articles in areas of current research activity are also published. Each series publishes two issues per volume.
Sankhya: An introduction by Rabindranath Tagore- “The enchantment of rhythm is obviously felt in music, the rhythm which is inherent in the notes and their groupings. It is the magic of mathematics, this rhythm which is in the heart of all creation, which moves in the atom and in its different measures fashions gold and lead, the rose and the thorn, the sun and the planets, the variety and vicissitudes of man’s history. These are the dance steps of numbers in the arena of time and space, which weave the maya of appearance, the incessant flow of changes that ever is and is not. What we know as intellectual truth, is that also not a perfect rhythm of the relationship of facts that produce a sense of convincingness to a person who somehow feels that he knows the truth? We believe any fact to be true because of a harmony, a rhythm in reason, the process of which analysable by the logic of mathematics.” – Rabindranath Tagore [Year: 1935, Volume: 2, Part: 1, Page No.: 1]
The Institute started a training section in 1938. Many of the early workers left the ISI for careers in the USA and with the government of India. Prof.Mahalanobis invited J. B. S. Haldane to join him at the ISI and Haldane joined as a Research Professor from August 1957 and stayed on until February 1961 at Fakir Ghosh Lane, Baranagar, western part of G.L.T.Road. He resigned in February 1961 from ISI due to frustrations with the administration and disagreements with Prof.Mahalanobis’s administrative policies & moved to a newly established biometry unit in Orissa. He was also very concerned with the frequent travels and absence of the director and wrote “The journeyings of our Director define a novel random vector”. Haldane however helped the ISI grow in biometrics.
John Burdon Sanderson Haldane FRS, descended from an aristocratic intellectual Scottish family (5 November 1892 – 1 December 1964), known as Jack (but who used ‘J.B.S.’ in his printed works), was a British-born geneticist and evolutionary biologist. He was one of the founders (along with Ronald Fisher and Sewall Wright) of population genetics. He was educated at Eton and New College, Oxford and served in the British Army during the First World War in the Black Watch regiment. In 1952, he received the Darwin Medal from the Royal Society. In 1956, he was awarded the Huxley Memorial Medal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Among other awards, he received the Feltrinelli Prize, an Honorary Doctorate of Science, an Honorary Fellowship at New College, and the Kimber Award of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He was awarded the Linnean Society of London’s prestigious Darwin–Wallace Medal in 1958. In 1924, Haldane met Charlotte Burghes (née Franken)(April 27th 1894 – March 16th 1969), a young reporter for the Daily Express. To marry, Charlotte divorced her husband Jack Burghes, causing some controversy.
Haldane was almost dismissed from Cambridge for the way he handled his meeting with her, which led to the divorce. They married in 1926. Following separation in 1942, the Haldanes divorced in 1945. He later married Helen Spurway(c.1917-15 February 1978, Hyderabad, India). Haldane became a socialist during World War I, supported the Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War, and finally became a Communist. He was an enthusiastic, idealistic Marxist, and wrote many articles in the Communist Daily Worker. He was the chairman of the editorial board of the London edition for several years.
Haldane’s move to India, initially to the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) was influenced by a number of factors. Officially he stated that his chief political reason was in response to the Suez Crisis. He wrote: “Finally, I am going to India because I consider that recent acts of the British Government have been violations of international law.” His interest in India was also because of his interest in biological research; belief that the warm climate would do him good and that India offered him freedom and shared socialist dreams. At the ISI, he headed the biometry unit and spent time researching a range of topics and guiding other researchers around him.
Haldane died from cancer on 1 December 1964, at the age of 72. He willed that his body be used for study at the Rangaraya Medical College, Kakinada, Bhubaneswar, India. Till 1961, his nationality was British afterwards became in Indian Citizen. In India, he lived & worked at Baranagar but not in & around of this area but in Kolkata a road [J.B.S.Haldane Avenue – infront of the Science City] was named confered after him.
In 1959 the Institute was declared as an Institute of national importance and a deemed university. Until then, it was associated with the University of Calcutta. ISI started “centres” in New Delhi and Bangalore and “units” in Chennai and Hyderabad. In 2008, ISI Chennai was upgraded from “unit” to “centre”. ISI Kolkata has a campus consisting of six addresses: 201 through 206 Barrackpore Trunk Road. These include a house, which was an erstwhile office of National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) of India, and prior to that, a renowned movie studio “Indo-British Film Company” was established at 86, B.T.Road.
The first electronic computer in India, as HEC-2M, was installed in the institute in 1956, and one of the foremost formal courses for computer science in the country started in the institute in 1962. The institute grants degrees and diplomas in Statistics, Mathematics, Quantitative Economics, Computer Science and such other subjects related to Statistics.
The International Statistical Education Centre was established in the institute in 1950 in collaboration with International Statistical Institute under the auspices of the UNESCO and the Government of India for providing training in Statistics to sponsored students mainly from Asia and the Far East.
ISI is generally regarded as being the best Indian school in the few areas of its expertise namely statistics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative economics, operations research and information science and is considered to be one of the few research oriented Indian schools at both, the undergraduate and graduate level. The Headquarters of ISI is located in the northern fringe of the metropolis of Kolkata, in Baranagar, in Bon-Hoogly not far from the Dunlop Bridge. Three other centres are located in Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai. The ISI’s teaching activities are in Kolkata, Delhi and Bangalore, while other cities in India have branch offices engaged in projects and consultancy in Statistical Quality Control and Operations Research. Presently, ISI has a total annual expenditure of over Rs.15,000,000 and employs 255 faculty members, and over 1,000 supporting staff.
Presently, ISI consists of two approximately equal parts – the office complex and the residential complex, – separated by a public road. This road (Girish Chandra Ghosh Street) connects B.T. Road with Gopal Lal Tagore Road, a road which runs along the western boundary of the main campus. The office complex bears door numbers 202, 203 and 204, and the residential complex, 205 and 206. There is no connection between the two parts of the campus; to travel connecting the residential and office complexes, there is no connection between the two parts of the campus; to travel connecting the residential and office complexes, one has to come out on B.T.Road and come into the other campus.
There is also a narrow public road that separates 202 and 203 B.T. Road. There is however, a direct connection between these two premises. The principal buildings in the office complex are the Main Building, the Geology Building, the Library Building, the Administration Building and the Amrapali. The residential campus at 205 and 206 B.T. Road premises includes, apart from several staff quarters, the Guest House, the Medical Welfare Unit, the Boys’ Hostel, the Research Scholars’ and ISEC hostel, the Ladies hostel, and parts of several service units. Some residential quarters are located in Deluxe Garden, an enclave located on the west side of the Gopal Lal Tagore Road [adjacent to Fakir Ghosh Lane], near the office campus.
- In this picuture, one may observe Silpacharya Abanindra Nath Tagore is sitting in an ‘easy chair’, at his residence ‘Gupta Nivas’ of Baranagar (Anthology & Retouch: email@example.com).
ISI also owns Gupta Nivas, a property located on the west side of B.T. Road, north of the office campus of ISI, opposide side of Baranagar Road Railway Station and Narendra Nagar & under the jurisdiction of Kamarhati Municipality. The area is located in the crossing of Barrackpore Trunk Road & Rabindra Nath Tagore Road. This building has a remarkable history of the final not a few days of Silpacharya Abanindra Nath Tagore, but is no longer in use. It was lying vacant dovoid of any security, yet from 2011, ISI has arranged to deploy private security personnel to protect unauthorised or casual entry of outsiders. However and apprantely the building is lying vacant without a least renovation, restoration or mere protection. Later, we will discuss & disclose a few fascinating information concerning, ‘Gupta Nivas’.
Geology Building was constructed in the year 1962. Apart from some academic units, the institute has also led research in anthropology and palaeontology. The Geology building houses a 195-seat auditorium [the Geology Auditorium] and a museum [Geology Museum]. The museum contains several artifacts of geological as well as archeological significance including a species of dinosaur fossils [Mostly completed], the “Isisaurus”, was named after the institute. It was originally named “Baropa-sauras Tagori” in the honor of the great poet Rabindranath Tagore. The museum was first opened for public viewing in 1977.
During the early 1950s Prof.Mahalanobis had initiated a new division in the Institute’s library as ‘Museum’ where letters and reports from distinguished personalities and photographs of eminent visitors were stored with care. He had made an arrangement to set up a permanent museum on the history and activities of the Institute and the growth of statistical science in India. However, this plan could not be immediately carried out because of the critical illness of Professor Mahalanobis, who passed away on 28th June, 1972.
On the eve of the birth centenary of Prof. Mahalanobis in 1993, the Institute decided to set up a ‘museum’ and ‘archives’ in his memory and attempt was made to trace the historical documents from the Development Office in “Amrapali” which was the formerly the personal office of Prof. Mahalanobis. A large number of private and official documents of Professor Mahalanobis were kept in the custody of his wife with Mrs. Nirmal Kumari Mahalanobis, which remained closed following her death in 1981. The collection was transferred in 1991 to the custody of ISI through the executor of the will of the estate of Mrs. Mahalanobis. The building was donated to the ‘Brahmo Samaj’ by Prof.Mahalanobis. During his birth centenary the Institute purchased the building from the Brahmo Samaj and set up the museum and archives in his memory.
The museum and archives is located in the campus of the Indian Statistical Institute on 203 Barrackpur Trunk Road, Kolkata 700108. Entrance to the museum is from the southern side of the building facing the view of the pond. On the ground floor, through the five galleries different phases of the life and work of Prof.Mahalanobis have been depicted mostly through the photographic display distributed in different panels, each of them having a thematic representation. On the first floor the chatal (the open lounge), the study room and the residential rooms of Professor and Mrs. Mahalanobis are reinstated in order to give an authentic impression of the period.
The archives keep in its custody all the official and personal documents, correspondence, files, scientific and literary papers, photographs, news paper cuttings, diaries and manuscripts of Prof.Mahalanobis and Mrs.Mahalanobis. This old ‘Museum’ collection formed the nucleus of the present museum with the archives reinforced by the files, records and photographs from the Development Office and the personal collections of Prof. & Mrs. Mahalanobis. “Amrapali”, the former residence of Professor Mahalanobis at the Institute’s campus, was henceforth turned into the museum and archives.
Presently , the museum has five galleries, each depicting distinctive part of life and valuable effort of Professor Mahalanobis, with the display of 752 exhibits through 91 panels. The study room and the residential portions of Professor and Mrs. Mahalanobis as well as the “chatal”, where he usually received his eminent guests, also formed the part of the museum for their historic value. The museum has in its collection a large number of artifacts related to Professor Mahalanobis, such as his honor and degrees, medals, dresses and some of his personal belongings. The small seminar room in the ground floor of western side of the building holds seminars, talks, film shows and other small functions.
(Fossil Skeleton related Anthology & Photo Retouch: firstname.lastname@example.org).
One of the most significant magnetism of the museum is an almost complete “fossil” skeleton of 47 feet long “Sauropod” from the early “Jurassic” period (about 160 million years back). This fossil was discovered by ISI geologists during in a 1958 exploration at the “Pranahita-Godavari” valley. It was dig out during a subsequent expedition in 1960-61. The dinosaur has been christened “Barapasaurus tagorei”. The name is a coinage of “Bara pa”, which means ‘big leg’ in Hindi, “saurus”, which is a standard suffix in zoological names of lizard-like creatures, and Tagore. The discovery coincided with the birth centenary year of the poet Rabindranath Tagore, who was a well-wisher of ISI. “The Workshop on the “Geology of the Pranhita-Godavari Valley: Current Status and Future Directions” held at the I.S.I. from 16-18 November, 1999, received a good response. We extend our thanks to all participants and participating Organisations for making it a great success. – Indian Statistical Institute, Baranagar, Kolkata.”
Where is Pranahita-Godavari?
*** Pranhita [“helpful to life”] —River in the Central Provinces, formed by the united streams of the Wardha & Waingangā, whose junction is at SeonI in Chanda District (190 36′ N. and 790 49′ E.). From here the river has a course of 72 miles, until it joins the Godavari above Sironcha. Throughout its length the Pranhita is the western boundary of Chanda District and of the Central Provinces, which it separates from the Hyderabad State. Its bed is broad and sandy, with the exception of a long stretch of rock below the confluence at SeonI. [Source: THE IMPERIAL GAZETTEER OF INDIA, VOL. XX, OXFORD AT THE CLARENDON PRESS, 1908, Page – 216]. ……….Jayanta Baksi (contact: email@example.com).
Unity in diversity is the motto of ISI. Among alumni of ISI, there are many who excelled in the field of statistics, mathematics or probability. Notable ones among them include C. R. Rao, S. R. S. Varadhan, D. Basu, K. R. Parthasarathy, T.Parthasarathy, Thriyambakam Krishnan, Rajeev Karandikar, Ravindra Khattree, J. S. Rao, Kesar Singh, Anuradha Roy, D. C. Rao, Ranajit Chakraborty, Probal Chaudhuri, Arup Bose etc.
Alike Prof.Mahalanobis, Mrs.Mahalanobis too donated her property in Giridih, a mineral-rich picturesque town and part of Hazaribag District [ Presently Jharkhand State ] & is nestled between the Usri river and the Parasnath Hills in which the only women’s college, Sri Ramkrishna Mahila college [named after the great saint Sri Ramkrishna Paramhansadev] in Giridih district was founded & commenced officially from 01st August 1978. It was in March 1979 that Rani Mahalanobis donated a vast area of land with three buildings. Rabindra Nath Tagore had named the buildings ‘shalboni’. ‘Mahua’ and ‘Uttara’, familiar to all as the ‘Mahua Complex’ and which is now called ‘P.C.Mahalanobis Block’.
The major objectives of the Indian Statistical Institute, as stated in its Memorandum of Association, are: 1) To promote the study and dissemination of knowledge of Statistics, to develop statistical theory and methods, and their use in research and practical applications generally, with special reference to problems of planning of national development and social welfare; 2) To undertake research in various fields of natural and social sciences, with a view to the mutual development of Statistics and these sciences; 3) To provide for, and undertake, the collection of information, investigation, projects and operational research for purposes of planning and the improvement of efficiency of management and production.
Traditionally, ISI offers fewer programs (and admits fewer students) than most other degree granting academic institutions. The following are the degree programs currently offered by ISI:
- Bachelor of Statistics (Honours)
- Bachelor of Mathematics (Honours)
- Master of [ Statistics, Mathematics, Science in Quantitative Economics, Science in Library and Information Science, Technology in Computer Science, Technology in Quality, Reliability and Operations Research]
- & Doctor of Philosophy.
The Kolkata campus is known as S.N. Bose Bhavan & Kolmogorov Bhavan & offers bachelors level degree in Statistics (B.Stat) and masters degree in Statistics, Computer Science, Quality Reliability and Operations Research and Quantitative Economics.
- Major divisions and units are: Stat. Math. Unit (SMU);
- Physics and Applied Mathematics Unit(PAMU);
- Advanced Computation and MicroElectronics Unit (ACMU);
- Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Unit (CVPRU);
- Machine Intelligence Unit (MIU);
- Electronics and Communication Sciences Unit (ECSU);
- Applied Statistics Unit (ASU) etc.
The Kolkata campus also houses the The International Statistical Education Centre (ISEC) opened in 1950. This Centre has been providing training in Statistics to sponsored students mainly from the countries of the Middle East, South and South East Asia, theFar Eastand the Commonwealth Countries of Africa. The Centre also offers various short-term courses in Statistics and related subjects.
The Central Library of ISI is located at Kolkata with a network extending to other locations of the Institute. Over the years, the library has attained the distinction of being one of the richest libraries of the country, particularly in the field of Statistics and related disciplines. The Central Library at Kolkata has over 200,000 volumes of books and journals besides many official reports, reprints, maps, and microfilms. It receives about one thousand scientific and technical journals annually. The Library has acquired databases on CD-ROM and further digitization of the library facilities is in progress. The library has developed a separate collection of books and journals in Mathematics and Statistics known as Eastern Regional Centre of NBHM collection, out of the grants from the National Board for Higher Mathematics.
Prof.Mahalanobis also had an abiding interest in cultural pursuits and served as secretary to Rabindra Nath Tagore, particularly during the latter’s foreign travels. He received one of the highest civilian awards, the Padma Vibhushan from Government of India for his contribution to science and services to the country. Mahalanobis expired on 28 June 1972, a day before his seventy-ninth birthday. Even at this age, he was still active doing research work and discharging his duties as the Secretary and Director of the Indian Statistical Institute and as the Honorary Statistical Advisor to the Cabinet of the Government of India.
Apart from coveted & highly respected Padma Vibhushan, the following recognitions / awards were also conferred to him:
- Weldon Medal from Oxford University (1944);
- Fellow of the Royal Society, London (1945);
- President of Indian Science Congress (1950);
- Fellow of the Econometric Society, U.S.A. (1951);
- Fellow of the Pakistan Statistical Association (1952);
- Honorary Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, U.K. (1954);
- Sir Deviprasad Sarvadhikari Gold Medal (1957);
- Foreign member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences (1958);
- Honorary Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge (1959);
- Fellow of the American Statistical Association (1961);
- Durgaprasad Khaitan Gold Medal (1961);
- Padma Vibhushan (1968);
- Srinivasa Ramanujam Gold Medal (1968);
- The government of India decided in 2006 to celebrate his birthday, 29 June, as National Statistical Day.
References & Suggested Reading:
1. Amitava Chowdhury. Akotrre Rabindranath (1983); Dey’s Publishing, Kolkta.
2. Bandhopadhyay, Ranjan. Ancholik Itihaser Dorpone Baranagar (2003); Souvenir, Bengal Jute Mills Worker’s Union, 59th convocation.
3. Clark, Ronald (1968) JBS: The Life and Work of J.B.S. Haldane ISBN 0-340-04444-6
4. Dronamraju, Krishna R. (1987). [Expression error: Missing operand for “On Some Aspects of the Life and Work of John Burdon Sanderson Haldane, F.R.S., in India”]. Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 41 (2): 211–237. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1987.0006.
5. Dutta Mazumdar, Dwijesh. Prof.Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, Socially Responsible Eminent Researcher in Statistics & applied Science (2008); Souvenir, Baranagar Utsav.
6. History of ISI
7. Marxist Philosophy and the Sciences (1939), Random House, Ayer Co. reprint: ISBN 0-8369-1137-7
8. “Pranab Mukherjee inaugurates Chennai centre of Indian Statistical Institute”. The Hindu. 27.07.2008.
9. Rao, C. R. (1973) Prasantha Chandra Mahalanobis. 1893-1972. Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 19:454-492
10. Rudra, A. (1996), Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis: A Biography.OxfordUniversity Press.
11. Science and Everyday Life (1940), Macmillan, 1941 Penguin, Ayer Co. 1975 reprint: ISBN 0-405-06595-7
12. Sen, Ajit. Anchalik Itihas – Baranagar, Vol – 1 to 10, Prosongo Baranagar, Thikana Baranagar.
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