Sankhya B

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Anthropometry, Mahalanobis and Human Genetics

  • Partha P. MajumderEmail author


Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis analysed large volumes of anthropometric data when he was founding statistical science in India. This experience enabled him to devise many innovative statistical methods and measures, notably D2. He also obtained seminal insights into diversity, affinities and structures of ethnic populations of India. However, anthropometric data did not provide the kind of insights he was seeking. Therefore, he initiated genetical studies in the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI). He received strong support from many internationally renowned scientists to initiate human genetics in ISI. His legacy has lived on and has gained strength over the years. ISI has made many seminal contributions to the understanding of structures and histories of Indian ethnic populations using genetical methods. This essay provides a historical perspective of the contributions of Mahalanobis and his legacy in this domain.


Ethnic Diversity D2 Blood groups Genomic markers 

AMS (2000) subject classification

Primary 01 Secondary 62P10 


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I am grateful to my large number of collaborators and co-authors of papers on Indian population diversity published during the last three-and-a-half decades. In preparing this manuscript, I have freely drawn passages from my publications without attribution. This articIe was published by the Indian Statistical Institute Retired Employees Association in a non-commercial compendium of lectures. I am also grateful to those Indians who, over many years, have supported our studies on population diversity in many ways, including by donating blood samples. I am grateful to the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, and the Indian Statistical Institute for providing financial and logistical support to our genome diversity studies in India.


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Copyright information

© Indian Statistical Institute 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of Biomedical GenomicsKalyaniIndia
  2. 2.Indian Statistical InstituteKolkataIndia

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