Wednesday, June 27, 2007

On average, you're mean

I suppose all those fusty, badly-dressed statisticians get to revel in their profession and throw up puns like the one on the title of this post, for at least one day. Mark your calendars, for its day after tomorrow - National Statistical Day. How many professions even have their own day?

Number crunchers can thank a shadowy figure from history, one whose name was virtually unpronouncable, at least until I found he was Bengali. Prof. Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis was born on this day, June 29th, 1893. He founded the Indian Statistical Institute and is even named after a statistical principle - Mahalanobis distance (click at your own peril!).

The reason I'm referring to him, is that he was the architect of India's 2nd five-year plan (1956-61) which took India towards industrialization. The period we're talking about resulted in the building of massive dams, steel plants and power plants - all the building blocks of modern India. The country took turns that were to influence society, economy, politics and foriegn relations for a better part of 40 years. Of course, many of the above 'achievements' had unintended consequences and there is much debate today about the effectiveness of following such a policy.

Yes, I continue to be influenced by Ramachandra Guha's India after Gandhi.

1 comment:

Joseph John said...

Any Indian economy course is incomplete without the Mahanalobis model.
Impressive pun sir, you've exceeded yourself. Milk will have to rack his brains to conjure up something better