The Platinum Jubilee celebration of Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) will commence from 17th December, 2006. On the same day, 75 years ago, the foundation lamp was lighted by Professor Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis to establish Indian Statistical Institute as a learned society, with the headquarters in Kolkata, to usher in research in the theory and applications of statistics as a new scientific discipline in India. Mahalanobis and his associates had relentlessly nurtured the sapling which, after crossing the landmarks of the Silver Jubilee and the Golden Jubilee celebrations, has now grown to be a banyan tree - the tree which also stands out as the ISI's symbol with a philosophical motto `unity in diversity'. Over the decades, the Institute has flanked out by setting up seven scientific divisions at the headquarters, along with a Branch in Giridih and two Centres in Delhi and Bangalore, and a network of units of Statistical Quality Control and Operations Research at Baroda, Mumbai, Pune, Coimbatore, Chennai and Hyderabad. The remarkable achievements of the Institute in statistical work as well as its contribution to economic planning motivated the Government of India to recognize ISI as an `institution of national importance' by the enactent of the ISI Act of the Parliament in 1959.
The philosophy of `unity in diversity' has an enduring significance in the context of unifying role of statistics in relation to various scientific divisions in ISI. During the Platinum Jubilee celebration year, we would seek to bring into focus this distinct role of statistics, which was perceived by Professor P. C. Mahalanobis and Sir R.A. Fisher to be `a key technology', ``which calls for the utilization of wide range of scientific knowledge'' in various disciplines ``to help in solving scientific or practical problems''. Enriched with this innovative role of statistics, Mahalanobis and his eminent colleagues in ISI, strove to deal with several national issues which were crucially connected with the live problems of economic, social, scientific, and technological development of the country. In the process, he had consistently encouraged, in ISI, the interaction of statistics with various sciences - social, biological, earth & physical, and computer & communication - for nourishing the twin aspects of statistics - its general applicability to other disciplines and its dependence on other disciplines for its own development. Far ahead of his time, Mahalanobis projected a striking futuristic vision regarding the development of technology for processing of information, which could substantially help statistics in realizing its twin aspects, representing inseparable relation between theory and practice.
In tune with this hallowed tradition, a comprehensive academic programme will be implemented throughout the Platinum Jubilee year, highlighting the emerging areas of frontline research which has presently been undertaken in various scientific divisions of the Institute at the headquarters as well as in the Centres, Branch, and the outlying units. Such a programme will include international and national-level seminars, symposia, conferences and workshops, along with a series of special lectures. A series of 15 to 20 comprehensive volumes in different subjects under the title ``Statistical Science & Interdisciplinary Research'' will be brought out by the World Scientific Press, Singapore. Institution of Platinum Jubilee Chairs for senior Professors and fellowships for Young Scientists together with infrastructural development is also an important part of the programme. Dr. Manmohan Singh, Honorable Prime Minister of the country, Shri G.K. Vasan, Honorable Minister of State, Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation, Government of India, Shri Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, Honorable Chief Minister of West Bengal, the former Chairpersons of the ISI Council, and other dignitaries will be present Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Chairman of the ISI Council will participate in the formal inaugural function which will be presided over by the present Professor M.G.K. Menon, FRS, President of the Institute on 24.12.2006 at the headquarters in Kolkata.