Members of ISI Giridih pay respects to PC Mahalanobis on his 119th birth anniversary on Friday. (Tausheen Rubbani)
Hazaribagh, June 29: The skeletal staff at the Giridih centre of Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) paid sombre homage to its founder P.C. Mahalanobis on his 119th birth anniversary today, as fears of the unit shutting down loom large.
The latest blow to its dwindling manpower has been the transfer of two officials who were at the helm of the centre’s research wings.
The number of employees in ISI Giridih has dipped to 24 from well over 100 in the past.
Fourteen are technical hands, while the rest are in the accounts’ section, said Mohammad Faiyaz Ahmad, an accountant who has served the centre for 30 years.
He confirmed that no research was being undertaken for now but scientists from Calcutta visited frequently for studies in agriculture.
Prabhakar Singh, who has been given additional charge of officer-on-special-duty, ISI Giridih, by the state government, felt the unit needed immediate attention.
“The institute is defunct now. I think it is paying the price because it is in Jharkhand. The situation would have been different if it was in Bengal,” Singh said.
The institute has two vital wings — the sociological research unit, headed by Mauly Chattopadhyay, and agricultural research, which is led by Sujit Adhikari.
Singh said the institute provides statistical data to the government and its agencies such as the National Sample Survey Organisation and data processing centres.
He alleged that both Chattopadhyay and Adhikari were transferred to Calcutta some 20 days ago. “How will the institute function without research scientists?” he asked.
Mahalanobis, who founded ISI Calcutta and is known as the father of statistics in India, set up the Giridih unit in 1931. With Calcutta as its headquarters, ISI has centres in New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Coimbatore, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Baroda and Giridih.
But lack of researchers and manpower shortage have led to the worst phase of the Giridih centre, which is spread across 20 acres in the locality of Barganda.
Those associated with the centre pointed out that Mahalanobis loved to visit Giridih, home to his in-laws, also because of its scenic charm, which made him decide on setting up a unit here.
However, they said with only a handful of employees left, no step was being taken to revive the Giridih centre.
Singh said that in 2010, officials of ISI Calcutta had formed a seven-member team to take stock of the Giridih unit and suggest revival plans. “The ISI Calcutta director was asked to look into the matter and prepare a report. It was complete eyewash as ISI Giridih is struggling to stay afloat.”