London School of Economics, UK

Poornima Paidipaty is currently an LSE Fellow in Inequalities. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University. Her work examines the intersections of decolonisation, governance and modern social science. She helped lead and organize the Measures of Inequality project at Cambridge University, which explores how metrics and statistical frameworks have been central to our historical and political understanding of equity and fairness. This work is part of an ongoing interest in large-scale state sciences (logistics, cartography, statistics, demography and engineering) and their historical implications for economic disparity and democratic politics in South Asia. She is currently writing a book on the history of large-scale sampling and state-builidng in Nehruvian India. Prior to the LSE, Dr. Paidipaty was the Philomathia Fellow in History at Cambridge and a member of the Society of Fellows at the University of Chicago


SESSION 2A: Symposium: Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis – A Tribute to His Scientific Contributions

Partha P Majumder

Statistics with ‘A clearly defined purpose’: A brief history of sampling and economic planning in Nehruvian India View Presentation

PC Mahalanobis is remembered for his numerous personal contributions to the science of statistics, as well as his leadership in the field (as an educator, institution builder and national planner). As his long-time colleague, C R Rao reminds us however, Mahalanobis’s commitment to statistics was not merely driven by scholarly interest. For him, the collection and analysis of data were meant to serve a greater purpose. These activities would assist in a wider effort to develop and uplift the Indian economy in the aftermath of colonial rule. This talk will examine some of the problems planners and experts faced in developing national income accounts, gauging living standards and encouraging macroeconomic growth. In the process, the speaker will examine how Mahalanobis and his colleagues at the ISI developed pathbreaking techniques in largescale sampling and macroeconomic measurement, placing them at the forefront of international developments in both science and social policy