Indian-American C.R. Rao wins Nobel Prize equivalent in statistics at the age of 102

Context: The Indian-American statistician Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao has been awarded the 2023 International Prize in Statistics — the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for statistics. It is awarded once every two years to an individual or team “for major achievements using statistics to advance science, technology and human welfare”.

More on news: The work of Professor Rao, 102, has influenced, in the words of the American Statistical Association, “not just statistics” but also “economics, genetics, anthropology, geology, national planning, demography, biometry and medicine”.

C. R. Rao, the eminent Indian statistician

  • C. R. Rao was born on September 10, 1920 in Andhra Pradesh, India. He is considered the ‘Father of Statistics’ in India for his pioneering work in statistical theory and applications.
  • He studied mathematics at Andhra University and then at King’s College in Cambridge, UK. He began his career as a lecturer in mathematics at Andhra University in 1941. He later served as Head of the Department of Statistics at the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata.
  • His research focused on statistical inference, multivariate analysis, design of experiments, statistical pattern recognition, entropy, and theoretical statistics. He developed concepts like Rao-Blackwell theorem, Fisher-Rao metric, Rao distance, and Rao-Cramer inequality which shaped modern statistics.
  • He advocated the use of statistics in fields like anthropology, economics, education, genetics, geology, medicine, psychology, etc. He pioneered applications of statistics in various branches of knowledge. Under his leadership, the ISI made significant contributions to research and training in statistics.
  • He has published over 400 papers and 20 books including Linear Statistical Inference and Its Applications. He has guided over 50 PhD students, many of whom became leading statisticians. He worked to put Indian statistics on the global map.
  • He was awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 2002 for his contributions to Indian statistics. He received many other prestigious awards like the Padma Vibhushan, Srinivasa Ramanujan Medal and the National Medal of Science.
  • He advocated for high standards of teaching and research in theoretical and applied statistics. He believed statistics as a discipline deserved to be studied separately rather than as a subordinate field of mathematics. This led him to establish the first Department of Statistics as an independent discipline in India at ISI Kolkata.
  • He was instrumental in the establishment of the Indian Society for Probability and Statistics to promote interaction and collaboration among statisticians. He worked to strengthen statistics education and research across India.
  • He continued his association with ISI Kolkata well into his 90s, devoting over 60 years of his life to building it into a world renowned center of excellence. His commitment to institution-building, promotion of statistics and passion for nurturing talent remain unparalleled.

Related: India gets elected to UN Statistical Commission

C. R. Rao made seminal contributions to statistics through his research, teaching and leadership. His vision and dedication built a strong foundation for statistics in post-independence India. He continues to inspire generations of students and serves as a role model for statisticians worldwide.

UPSC PYQ – 2016

A recent movie titled The Man Who Knew Infinity is based on the biography of –

(a) S. Ramanujan

(b) S. Chandrasekhar

(c) S. N. Bose

(d) C. V. Raman

Answer – a)

Prelims practice question 

Consider the following statements about C. R. Rao:

  1. C. R. Rao is known as the ‘Father of Statistics’ in India for his pioneering research in multivariate analysis.
  2. He founded the first Department of Statistics as an independent discipline at the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata.
  3. He advocated the use of statistics in various fields of study including anthropology, geology, genetics and medicine.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer – d)

Source: The Hindu

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