Indian Statistical Institute
|Indian Statistical Institute|
Logo of the Indian Statistical Institute
|Established||17 December 1931|
|Director||Bimal Kumar Roy|
|Location||Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Tezpur, India|
Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) is an academic institute of national importance as recognised by a 1959 act of the Indian parliament. It grew out of the Statistical Laboratory set up by Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis in Presidency College, Kolkata. Established in 1931, this public university of India is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions focused on statistics, and its early reputation led it to being adopted as a model for the first US institute of Statistics set up at the Research Triangle, North Carolina by Gertrude Mary Cox.
Mahalanobis, the founder of ISI, was deeply influenced by wisdom and guidance of Rabindranath Tagore and Brajendranath Seal. Under his leadership, the institute initiated and promoted the interaction of Statistics with natural and social sciences to advance the role of Statistics as a key technology by explicating the twin aspects – its general applicability and its dependence on other disciplines for its own development. The institute is now considered as one of the foremost centres in the world for training and research in Statistics and related sciences.
ISI has its headquarters in Baranagar, a suburb of Kolkata, West Bengal. It has four subsidiary centres focused in academics at Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Tezpur, and a branch at Giridih. In addition, the Institute has a network of units of Statistical Quality Control and Operations Research at Vadodara, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune engaged in guiding the industries, within and outside India, in developing the most up–to–date quality management systems and solving critical problems of quality, reliability and productivity.
Primary activities of ISI are research and training of Statistics, development of theoretical Statistics and its applications in various natural and social sciences. Originally affiliated with the University of Calcutta, the institute was declared an institute of national importance in 1959, through an act of Indian parliament, Indian Statistical Institute act, 1959. ISI functions under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) of the Government of India.
Key areas of expertise of ISI are Statistics, Mathematics, Computer science, quantitative Economics, Operations Research and Information Science and it is one of the few research oriented Indian schools offering courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level. The current Director of ISI is Professor Bimal Kumar Roy and the current Dean of Studies is Professor Pradipta Bandyopadhyay.
ISI's origin can be traced back to the Statistical Laboratory in Presidency College, Kolkata set up by Mahalanobis, who worked in the Physics Department of the college in 1920s. During 1913–15, he did his Tripos in Mathematics and Physics at University of Cambridge, where he came across Biometrica, a journal of Statistics founded by Karl Pearson. Since 1915, he taught Physics at Presidency College, but his interest in Statistics grew under the guidance of polymath Brajendranath Seal. Many colleagues of Mahalanobis took an interest in Statistics and the group grew in the Statistical Laboratory. Considering the extensive application of Statistics in solving various problems in real life such as analyzing multivariate anthropometric data, applying sample surveys as a method of data collection, analyzing meteorological data, estimating crop yield etc., this group, particularly, Mahalanobis and his younger colleagues S. S. Bose and H. C. Sinha felt the necessity of forming a specialized institute to facilitate research and learning of Statistics.
On 17 December 1931, Mahalonobis held a meeting 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), which was formally registered on 28 April 1932, as a non-profit distributing learned society under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860. Later, the institute was registered under the West Bengal Societies Registration Act XXVI of 1961 amended in 1964. Mukherjee accepted the role of the president of ISI and held this position until his death in 1936. In 1953, ISI was relocated to a property owned by Professor Mahalanobis, named "Amrapali", in Baranagar, which is now a municipality at the northern outskirts of Kolkata.
In 1931, Mahalanobis was the only person working at ISI, and he managed it with an annual expenditure of Rs.250. It gradually grew with the pioneering work of a group of his colleagues including S. S. Bose, J. M. Sengupta, Raj Chandra Bose, Samarendra Nath Roy, K. R. Nair, R. R. Bahadur, Gopinath Kallianpur and D. B. Lahiri. Pitamber Pant, who had received training in Statistics at the institute, went on to become a secretary to the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, and was a great source of help and support to the institute.
The institute started a training section in 1938. In due course, many of the early workers left the ISI for careers in the USA or for positions in public/private sector in India. By the 1940s, the ISI was internationally known and was taken as a model when the first institute of Statistics was set up in the United States by Gertrude Cox – perhaps the only time an institute in a developing country was used as a model in a developed country.
As asked by the Government of India, in 1950, ISI designed and planned a comprehensive socio–economic national sample survey covering rural India. The organisation named National Sample Survey (NSS) was founded in 1950 for conducting this survey. The field work was performed by the Directorate of NSS, functioning under the Ministry of Finance, whereas the other tasks such as planning of the survey, training of field workers, review, data processing and tabulation were executed by ISI. In 1961, the Directorate of NSS started functioning under the Department of Statistics of Government of India, and later in 1971, the design and analysis wing of NSS was shifted from ISI to the Department of Statistics forming the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO).
J. B. S. Haldane joined the ISI as a research professor from August 1957, and stayed on until February 1961, when he had a falling out with ISI Director P.C. Mahalanobis over Haldane's going on a much-publicized hunger strike to protest the United States pressuring U.S. National Science Fair winners Gary Botting and Susan Brown from attending an ISI banquet to which many prominent Indian scientists had been invited. Haldane helped the ISI grow in biometrics. Haldane also played a key role in developing the structure and content of the courses offered by ISI.
Until 1959, ISI was associated with the University of Calcutta. By the 'The Indian Statistical Institute Act 1959' of the Parliament of India, amended in 1995, ISI was declared an institute of national importance, and was authorised to hold examinations and to grant degrees and diplomas in Statistics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Economics, and in any other subject related to Statistics as identified by the Institute from time to time. ISI is a public university, as the same act also states that ISI would be funded by the Central Government of India.
ISI had by the 1960s started establishing special service units in New Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad to provide consultancy services to business, industry and governmental public service organisations in the areas of Statistical Process Control, Operations Research and Industrial Engineering. Additionally, Bangalore had a Documentation Research and Training Centre (DRTC). In early 1970s, the Delhi and Bangalore units were converted to teaching centres. In 2008, ISI Chennai was upgraded to a teaching centre. In 2011, ISI added a new centre in Tezpur.
ISI functions as an autonomous institute under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI), which is the nodal ministry of the Government of India that ensures the functioning of ISI in accordance with The Indian Statistical Institute Act 1959. ISI Council is the highest policy–making body of the institute. Members of this council include the President of ISI, the Chairman of ISI, representatives of the Government of India including one representative of RBI, scientists not employed in ISI including one representative from the Planning Commission of India and one representative of the UGC, representatives of scientific and non-scientific workers of ISI, and representative from academic stuff of ISI, including the Director of ISI and the Dean of Studies of ISI. The current Director of ISI is Professor Bimal Kumar Roy and the current Dean of Studies is Professor Pradipta Bandyopadhyay.
The major objectives of the ISI are: to facilitate research and training of Statistics, to indulge in development of statistical theory and in application of statistical techniques – in the scenarios of planning at national level and in theoretical development of natural and social sciences, to participate in the process of data collection and analysis, to operate related projects in planning and improvement of efficiency of management and production.
The Sanskrit phrase भिन्नेष्वैक्यस्य दर्शणम् (Bhinneswaykyasya Darshanam), which literally means the philosophy of unity in diversity, is incorporated in the logo of the institute, and is motto of ISI.
Traditionally, ISI offers fewer programs (and admits fewer students) than most other degree granting academic institutions. Following the empowerment for granting degrees in the subject of Statistics as per the ISI Act 1959, in 1960, ISI initiated bachelor level degree program Bacheor of Statistics and master level degree course Master of Statistics, and also began awarding research level degrees such as PhD and DSc. Later, ISI started offering Master of Technology (MTech) courses in Computer Science and in Quality, Reliability & Operations Research (QR&OR); these courses got recognition from All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). As ISI Act of 1959 was amended by the Parliament of India in 1995, ISI was empowered to confer degrees and diplomas in subjects such as Mathematics, Quantitative Economics, Computer Science, and other subjects related to Statistics as determined by ISI from time to time. Apart from the degree courses, ISI offers few diploma and certificate courses, special diploma courses for international students via ISEC, and special courses in collaboration with CSO for training probationary officers of Indian Statistical Service.
Degree courses 
ISI offers two undergraduate programs, viz. Bachelor of Statistics (Honours) (B.Stat) and Bachelor of Mathematics (Honours) (B. Math), six graduate programs, viz. Master of Statistics (M. Stat), Master of Mathematics (M. Math), Master of Science in Quantitative Economics (MSQE), Master of Science in Library and Information Science, Master of Technology in Computer Science (MTech–CS) and Master of Technology in Quality, Reliability and Operations Research (MTech–QROR), and research fellowships towards obtaining a PhD degree.
Undergraduate courses are of 3 years duration, whereas the graduate level courses of 3 years of duration. For all undergraduate and graduate level courses, the academic year is divided in two semesters. Except for sponsored candidates of MTech courses, ISI students are not required to pay any tuition fees. Conditional to performance beyond a threshold, all students and research fellows receive stipends, fellowships and contingency/book grants. Students demonstrating outstanding performances are rewarded at the end of the semesters. ISI campuses provide hostel accommodations with recreational facilities and limited medical facilities available free of cost.
Applicants of all degree courses are required to go through written admission tests and interviews. ISI conducts the written tests at various examination centres across India. Only in few cases, candidates may get called for the interview directly, viz. applicants of the undergraduate courses if they have participated in International Mathematics Olympiad, and applicants of MTech Computer Science course having a GATE score above a threshold. Also, candidates of research fellowship programmes having already qualified for a fellowship from CSIR or NBHM, can directly appear in an interview.
International Statistical Training Centre (ISEC) 
In 1950, ISI, in collaboration with International Statistical Institute, UNESCO and Government of India, had set up International Statistical Training Centre (ISEC) to impart knowledge of theoretical and applied statistics to participants from Middle East, East and South-East Asia, the Far East and Commonwealth countries of Africa. The main training course offered by ISEC is meant for international students, preferably graduates with proficiency in English and Mathematics. ISEC, located in Kolkata campus of ISI, functions with support from the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation of the Government of India.
Sankhya, the statistical journal published by ISI, was founded in 1933, along the lines of Karl Pearson's Biometrika. Mahalanobis was the founder editor. Each volume of Sankhya consists of four issues, two of them are in Series A, containing articles on Theoretical Statistics, Probability Theory and Stochastic Processes, whereas the other two issues form the Series B, containing articles on Applied Statistics, i.e. Applied Probability, Applied Stochastic Processes, Econometrics and Statistical Computing.
According to India Education Review, no Indian university is in world's top 200 universities. The ascribed ranking of ISI is 386. The web ranking of this institute, according to 4ICU (4 International Colleges and Universities), is 1693. According to the web ranking published by Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, ISI currently holds the world rank of 2086.
Over the years, researchers of ISI made fundamental contributions in various fields of Statistics such as Design of Experiments, Sample Survey, Multivariate statistics etc. Mahalanobis introduced the measure Mahalanobis distance which is used in multivariate statistics and other related fields. Raj Chandra Bose, who is known for his contributions in coding theory, worked on Design of Experiments during his tenure at ISI, and was one of the three mathematicians, who disproved Euler's conjecture on orthogonal Latin squares. Anil Kumar Bhattacharya is credited with introduction of the measures Bhattacharyya distance and Bhattacharya coefficient. Samarendra Nath Roy is known for his pioneering contributions in multivariate statistics. Among colleagues of Mahalanobis, other notable contributors were K. R. Nair in Design of experiments, Jitendra Mohan Sengupta in Sample Survey, Ajit Dasgupta in Demography and Ramkrishna Mukherjea in Quantitative Sociology. C. R. Rao's contributions during his association with ISI include two theorems of Statistical Inference known as Cramér–Rao inequality and Rao-Blackwell Theorem, and introduction of orthogonal arrays in Design of Experiments.
During 1953 - 1956 distinguished scientists, like Ronald Fisher, Norbert Wiener and Yuri Linnik visited ISI. Norbert Wiener collaborated with Gopinath Kallianpur on topics including ergodic theory, prediction theory and generalized harmonic analysis In 1962, during his month-long visit to ISI, Soviet mathematician Andrey Kolmogorov wrote his notable paper on Kolmogorov Complexity, which was published in Sankhya, 1963. Other distinguished scientists including Jerzy Neyman, Walter A. Shewhart, W. Edwards Deming and Abraham Wald have visited ISI during the tenure of P. C. Mahalanobis.
Planning Commission 
The second five-year plan of India was a brainchild of Mahalanobis. The plan followed the Mahalanobis model, an economic development model developed by Mahalanobis in 1953. The plan attempted to determine the optimal allocation of investment between productive sectors in order to maximise long-run economic growth . It used the prevalent state of art techniques of operations research and optimisation as well as the novel applications of statistical models developed at ISI. This second five-year plan shifted the focus from agriculture to industrialisation, with an objective of attaining self-reliance by economy of India. Domestic production of industrial products was encouraged in this plan, particularly in the development of the public sector. The two-pronged strategy devised in this plan targeted rapid growth of the heavy industry, keeping emphasis on growth of small and cottage industries.
B. S. Minhas and K. S. Parikh, both from the Planning Unit of ISI Delhi, played key roles in the Planning Commission of the Government of India. Minhas, who joined the Planning Unit in 1962 and retired as a distinguished scientist in 1989, was a member of the Planning Commission during 1971–74. Parikh, who was a member of the Planning Commission during 2004–09, chaired Integrated Energy Policy Committee of the commission, was a member of the Economic Advisory Council of India during the tenure of five prime ministers, also played a role in the Department of Atomic Energy establishment, and was a key advisor to the government on energy issues.
Computer science 
In India, the first analogue computer was assembled in ISI in 1950, for use in computation of numerical solutions of simultaneous linear equations. In 1955, the first digital computer of India was procured by ISI. This machine was of a model named HEC-2M, manufactured by British Tabulating Machine Company (BTM). As per the agreement with BTM, ISI had to take care of the installation work and maintenance of it, before it became operational in 1956. Though this HEC-2M machine and the URAL-1 machine, which was bought in 1959 from Russia, were operational till 1963, ISI began deveopment of the first second-generation digital computer of India in collaboration with Jadavpur University (JU). This joint collaboration produced transistor-driven machine ISIJU-1, which became operational in 1964. The first annual convention of the Computer Society of India (CSI) was hosted by ISI in 1965. The Computer and Communication Sciences division of ISI produced many eminent scientists such as Sankar Kumar Pal, Malay K. Kundu, Bidyut B. Chaudhuri, Nikhil R. Pal, Bhabani P. Sinha, Bhargab B. Bhattacharya, Bhabatosh Chanda, C. A. Murthy, Sushmita Mitra, Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay and Dwijesh Dutta Muzumder. ISI is regarded as one of the top most centres for research in Computer Science in India and attracts some of the best students in the country.
Knowledge-based Computer Systems project (KBCS), funded jointly by Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DoE), Government of India and UNDP since 1986, has a nodal centre at ISI Kolkata. This unit is responsible for research in the area of image processing, pattern recognition, computer vision and artificial intelligence.
Social sciences 
R. L. Brahmachari, known for his work in many fields like agricultural sciences, zoology, botany, biometrics, did much of his work at ISI.
The institute has done some pioneering work and research in anthropology and palaeontology. A trove of dinosaur fossils was discovered by a team led by ISI researchers in early 1960s. The scattered fossils were recovered and the partial skeleton was reconstructed at ISI's Baranagar campus. It turned out to be a unique species and was named the Isisaurus,after the institute.
The Linguistic Research Unit (LRU) of ISI was involved in the study of speech pathology. Đorđe Kostić of this laboratory was a distinguished scientist. He invented a unique hearing aid, called SAFA (Selective Auditory Frequency Amplifier) that simulates frequency-range according to the need of the particular hearing impaired person.
Many students and research scholars of ISI pursued a career in academics, and have excelled in the fields of statistics, mathematics, probability theory, computer science and economics. Notable ones among them include C. R. Rao, S. R. S. Varadhan, D. Basu, K. R. Parthasarathy, Jayanta Kumar Ghosh, B. L. S. Prakasa Rao, G. Jogesh Babu, Thiruvenkatachari Parthasarathy, Thriyambakam Krishnan, Gopinath Kallianpur, Rajeeva Karandikar, Ravindra Khattree, Palash Sarkar, J. S. Rao, Kesar Singh, Ranajit Chakraborty, Partha Pratim Majumder, Probal Chaudhuri, Arup Bose, Sundaram Thangavelu, Subhashis Ghosal, Nilanjan Chatterjee, Sudipto Banerjee, Sourav Chatterjee, Jean Drèze, and Sucharit Sarkar.
ISI alumni notable for non-academic career include politicians Subramanian Swamy and Dipankar Bhattacharya. N. Vijayaditya, former Director General, National Informatics Centre and Controller of Certifying Authorities, Government of India, had received specialised training in Computer Science when he got his Masters degree in Statistics from ISI.
Visits by Heads of states 
Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev visited ISI during his visit to India in 1955. Zhou Enlai, the Prime Minister of China, and Ho Chi Minh, the President of Vietnam, during their visit to India specifically visited ISI respectively on September 9, 1956 and February 13, 1958.
ISI has its headquarters and the main campus in Kolkata. It has other centres in New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and smaller units in Hyderabad, Mumbai, Coimbatore, Giridih, Pune and Vadodara. Tezpur, the 4th centre of ISI was inaugurated in 2011.
Since mid-forties, ISI pioneered in research and application of Statistical Quality Control (SQC) in India. Walter A. Shewhart, the statistician known as the father of SQC, and other experts of this field visited ISI over the years. The first Statistical Quality Control and Operations Research (SQC & OR) unit of ISI was set up in Mumbai in 1953, followed by Bangalore and Kolkata units in 1954. In 1976, this unit was transformed into the SQC & OR Division, which now operates eight units, located at various industrial centres in India – Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Mumbai, Coimbatore and Vadodara. These units partake in technical consultancy with public and private organisations, in addition with performing research and training activities.
Kolkata campus 
ISI Kolkata has a campus consisting of six addresses at 201 through 206 Barrackpore Trunk Road, Baranagar. These include a house, which was an erstwhile office of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) of India.
ISI Kolkata campus is eco-friendly, as conceived by Mahalanobis. Hollow bricks that protect from hit and noise were used with minimum use of reinforced concrete, to avoid radiation. There was no use of bitumen-basalt combination at the roads inside ISI campuses. This helps in reduction of radiation and preservation of rain water to maintain equilibrium in ground-water level.
The Kolkata campus offers bachelors level degree course in Statistics (B. Stat), masters degree course in Statistics (M.Stat), Mathematics (M.Math), Computer Science (MTech), Quality Reliability and Operations Research (MTech) and Quantitative Economics (M.S.). Major divisions and units are: Statistics and Mathematics Unit (SMU), Human Genetics Unit (HGU), 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), Economic Research Unit (ERU), Linguistic Research Unit (LRU), Sociology Research Unit (SRU), Psychometry Research Unit (PRU) and Population Studies Unit (PSU).
The Kolkata campus houses the International Statistical Education Centre (ISEC), which opened in 1950. This Centre provides training in statistics to sponsored students mainly from the Middle East, South and South East Asia, the Far East and the Commonwealth Countries of Africa. The Centre also offers various short-term courses in statistics and related subjects.
The Center for Soft Computing Research: A National Facility, an associate institute of Indian Statistical Institute and established in Kolkata in 2005, is unique in the country. Apart from conducting basic research, it offers a 3-month course and promotes less endowed institutes by providing fellowships and research grants.
The Central Library of ISI is located at Kolkata with branches at the other facilities. The library has over 200,000 volumes of books and journals with a special emphasis on the field of statistics and related studies. The main branch also has a collection of official reports, reprints, maps, and microfilms. The library receives over a thousand new technical and scientific journals every year. The Library has databases on CD-ROM and is working on further digitization of the collection. The library has a separate collection of works on the topics of mathematics and statistics called the Eastern Regional Centre of NBHM collection, funded by grants from the National Board for Higher Mathematics.
Delhi campus 
The ISI campus at New Delhi was established in 1974 and was shifted to the present campus in 1975.
The Delhi campus offers two master level courses Master of Statistics (M. Stat) and Master of Science (M. S.) in Quantitative Economics, and doctoral programs.
Bangalore campus 
The Bangalore Centre of ISI started with a Statistical Quality Control (SQC) unit in 1954. The Documentation Research and Training Centre (DRTC) here became operational from 1962 with honorary professor S. R. Ranganathan as the head of it. Mahalanobis planned of starting a full-fledged centre of ISI here around the mid-sixties. In 1966, the then Government of Karnataka granted ISI 30 acres of forest land full of eucalyptus trees, next to the upcoming campus of the Bangalore University, located on the Mysore Road, at a nominal price.
However, after death of Mahalanobis in 1972, the project of establishing Bangalore centre got temporarily shelved. Professor Kallianpur, the Director of ISI during 1976–78, revived the project and made concrete proposals to the Government of India to get grants for the development of the land already in possession of ISI and for the construction of an academic block along with a library and offices.
In the meantime, a building was rented on Church Street, in Bangalore downtown, and various activities of the Bangalore Centre started in September 1978. The Statistics and Mathematics Unit (SMU) was established. The SQC Unit and the DRTC unit, which were functioning from other rented buildings at that time, joined this new Centre. The Economic Analysis Unit (EAU) was established.
As construction of the administrative block at the new campus got completed, the various units moved to the new campus in May 1985. The Bangalore centre was formally declared as a centre of ISI in September 1996. System Science and Informatics Unit (SSIU) was added to the centre in August 2009.
The Bangalore centre has by now became an institution well known for its academic activities in Mathematics, Statistics, SQC and Operations Research, Library and Information Science, and Quantitative Economics.
The Bangalore campus offers bachelor level course Bachelor of Mathematics (B. Math), master level courses Master of Mathematics (M. Math) and Master of Science (M. S.) in Library and Documentation Science, and doctoral programs.
Student life 
Student Fest 
Integration is the annual techno-cultural fest of Indian Statistical Institute, usually held during the first and second weekend of January each year. It is one of the biggest student fests in Kolkata, and attracts participation from all over the world.
Alumni of ISI – including recipients of PhD degree – are employed in government and semi–government departments, industrial establishments, research institutions, in India and other countries. There is a placement cell in ISI Kolkata that organizes campus interviews by prospective employers in various campuses of ISI. Since recent past, a high percentage of ISI alumni gets absorbed into jobs in analytics, banking, finance and software industry.
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- Ghosh, Jayanta; Maiti, Pulakesh; Bera, Anil (2010). "Indian Statistical Institute: Numbers and Beyond, 1931–47 (chapter 33)". In Dasgupta, Uma. Science and Modern India: An Institutional History, C. 1784–1947. Pearson Education India. ISBN 978-8131728185. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
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