India commemorates National Statistics Day on June 29 to honour the late Scientist Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis and his contributions to the field of statistics and economic planning.
This is not to be confused with the United Nations’ World Statistics Day, which is celebrated every five years on October 20. The last celebration was in 2020 and the next celebration is scheduled for 2025.
Why do we celebrate Statistics Day?
The government of India decided to celebrate Mahalanobis on June 29 which coincided with his birthday. The notice of this was published in the gazette of India on June 05, 2007 and the first celebration of the national day took place in the same year.
The purpose of this day is to raise awareness among the public, especially the younger generation, about the role and significance of statistics in socio-economic planning and policy formulation, drawing inspiration from the late Mahalanobis.
How is the day celebrated?
Every year the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MoSPI) chooses a theme. For 2023, the chosen theme is Alignment of the state indicator framework with national indicator framework for monitoring sustainable development goals.
The day is also celebrated by holding seminars, discussions, and competitions to highlight the importance of statistics in overall national development.
The winners of the Prof PC Mahalanobis National Award in Official Statistics are also announced. In 2022, the award was jointly presented by MoSPI Deputy Director General Dilip Kumar Sinha and KP Suresh, principal scientist at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
This year, the main event for Statistics Day 2023 will take place at the Scope Convention Centre in New Delhi. The event will be attended by Rao Inderjit Singh, union minister of state for MoSPI, Ministry of Planning, and Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Rajeeva Laxman Karandikar, chairman of the National Statistical Commission, G P Samanta, chief statistician of India & secretary of MoSPI, and other dignitaries will also address the participants. Additionally, senior officers from Central Ministries/Departments, representatives from States/Union Territories, and international organisations are expected to participate.
During the technical session of the event, ministry officers will give a brief presentation on the theme, followed by expert speeches.
The winners of the 'On the Spot Essay Writing Competition, 2023' for Post Graduate Students organised by MoSPI will also be honored during the event.
Who was Prof Mahalanobis?
Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis or Prof Mahalanobis was born on June 29, 1893, in Kolkata. He was a scientist and statistician and is best known for devising the "Mahalanobis Distance," which is utilised in classification and cluster analysis. This formula is based on measurements in multiple dimensions and helps determine the distance between a point and its distribution points.
He was also a member of India's first planning commission, where he utilised his knowledge and expertise to develop the country's annual plan and oversee its implementation.
Prof Mahalanobis also established the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) in 1950. The public university was deemed an institute of national importance by the 1959 Act of the Indian Parliament.
He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1968 for his contribution to the sciences and for his service to the country.
Prof Mahalanobis passed away at the age of 78 on June 28, 1972, just a day before his 79th birthday in Kolkata.