The Academic Journey of Dr. Vinod Prakash
Dr. Vinod Prakash has exhibited exceptional intelligence in his studies from a young age, being nurtured by his family of educated middle-class freedom fighters. However, after graduating in mathematics, he faced a troubling predicament. His family, unfortunately, couldn't afford the expenses for his higher education. Driven by an unwavering ambition for his career, he yearned for more than being a mere school teacher or college professor.
Fortunately, in recognition of his profound dedication to knowledge, his two unmarried sisters stepped forward to offer their vital financial support. With their generous contribution of INR 125 per month, sustained over 2 years, Dr. Prakash got the opportunity to go for further studies in Kolkata. Remarkably, he became the very first member of his family to venture outside their hometown in pursuit of education. To this day, he attributes his success to the divine intervention of a supreme power that guided him throughout his life.
Getting admission into the prestigious Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata, he faced an upsetting challenge. Among 15 accomplished students in his batch, his academic background from Agra University appeared less valued. However, fueled by unwavering dedication and perseverance, he strived relentlessly for two years. The result? A remarkable triumph, as he secured a position among the top five brilliant minds.
During that time, for the first time, the course was extended by three years to cater to the growing demand and significance of the discipline. The management of the Indian Statistical Institute, which had gained worldwide recognition in the late 1950s, took the remarkable decision to further extend the program by an additional year to confer a diploma upon completion. This management team comprised renowned individuals such as the brilliant Prof. Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, a founder of the Indian Statistical Institute, and Prof. Dr. C. Radhakrishnan Rao, who served as the director of the research and training school.
In their commitment to promoting excellence and supporting the students, the management team decided to provide a scholarship of INR 125 to every student in the third year. This particular year was regarded as a period of specialization, allowing individuals the opportunity to delve into their chosen field of official statistics. The proficient and passionate Dr. Prakash excelled in this area of study, earning him the affectionate nickname of the "Walking Encyclopedia" from his colleagues. His remarkable ability to remember every numerical detail, flawlessly reciting them, left those around him in awe.
In Kolkata, he captivated the admiration of Prof Prashant Mahalanobis who was also known as the father of Indian Statistics. It is worth noting, however, that his expertise lies in the realm of applied statistics. Dr. Prakash had the privilege to collaborate as a research assistant with the eminent Prof Mani Mukharjee, a globally recognized authority in the field at that time.
Dr. Prakash earned the esteemed title of being the first student to achieve a Masters in Statistics degree, followed by research in 1960.
It is noteworthy that Prof. Mahalanobis was the Statistical Advisor to the Government of India and became the close friend of the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. The government concluded that the national income and prospective planning should be conducted in the Yojna Vihar Planning Commissioning Building in Delhi.
This gave an extraordinary opportunity for Dr. Prakash to join this distinguished institution. Being recognized as a top scholar, he seamlessly transitioned from Kolkata to Delhi. This move is a testimony to his outstanding talent and enthusiasm for his study.
Dr. Prakash has gained immense recognition across the professional realm, and that made it possible for him to meet experts from the USA, UK, and the international agency UNESCO. This remarkable acclaim bestowed upon Dr. Prakash is perceived as a true blessing, affirming his unwavering dedication, and marking a significant milestone in his prosperous career.
Continue reading the academic journey of Dr. Prakash in the next blog.