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Feb 12, 2016

Nanjamma Chinnappa: A Statistician Par Excellence

Published Date: 24 Feb, 2006 (10:36 PM)

By Dr K. B. Mallya

Bangalore, Feb 18: Boverianda Nanjamma Chinnappa was awarded the Honorary Doctorate Degree (D.Litt) of the University of Mangalore for her contributions to the fields of statistics and education by Sri T.N.Chaturvedi, the Governor of Karnataka, on the 11th of Feb, 2006 at the 24th Annual Convocation of the University. 

Born in 1935, she had her early education in Udupi and Mangalore, obtained her Masters Degree in Statistics from Madras University in 1954 and did her post-graduate studies in the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata. 

She worked in the Indian Statistical Institute from 1955 to 1964. Thereafter she taught part-time at the Indian Statistical Institute, Chennai and then worked in the Economics Department of Madras University till 1974. She was a Visiting Fellow in Cambridge University, England during 1974-75. In 1975 she went to Ottawa, Canada and served in the Canadian Federal Agency for Statistics for two decades. She retired as a Senior Advisor to the Agency and was the recipient of their Career Excellence Award. 

In her various jobs Nanjamma was responsible for planning and designing Sample Surveys to collect a variety of socio-economic and agricultural data and for directing statisticians both in India and Canada. She has also taught at statistical courses and workshops in India, Canada, USA, Egypt, Italy, Mexico and China. 

She was a Statistical Consultant to various national and international agencies, including the Madras School of Social Work, Voluntary Health Services Hospital, Chennai, Indian Institute of Public Opinion, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Social Development Division of the U.N., India, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, USA, National Council of Applied Economic Research, India, the World Health organisation and the World Bank.

She was a founding member of the International Association of Survey Statisticians and served it in various capacities and was its President in 1997-99. She was elected as an honorary fellow of the American Statistical Association. She was an elected member of International Statistical Institute and served on a number of its committees. She has served on the Editorial Board of leading Statistical Journals.  

She has contributed chapters to books on Statistics, has published papers in statistical journals and presented papers at conferences and seminars.

After retirement Nanjamma and her husband B.M.Chinnappa have translated the Pattole Palame by Sri Nadikerianda Chinnappa (1924), a collection of Kodava folksongs and traditions, into English. This was published in 2003 by Rupa & Co., New Delhi. Currently they are visiting and documenting information on the old ancestral homes (ainmanes) in Kodagu. 


  • Schooling in Udupi and Mangalore
  • M.A., Statistics, Madras University, India, 1954.
  • Post-Graduate Course in Advanced Statistics, Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta, India, 1954-55.


  • Read, write and speak:  Kodava, Kannada, Hindi, English, French.
  • Speak: Tamil, Bengali, Malayalam


  • International Statistical Institute (elected member in 1982)
  • International Association of Survey Statisticians (founding member in 1973)
  • American Statistical Association (since 1976; elected fellow in 1993)
  • Statistical Society of Canada (since 1988)


Statistics Canada (the Canadian Federal Department of Statistics), Ottawa, Canada, 1975-95

  • 1994-95:  Senior Advisor, Informatics and Methodology Field. Responsible for the Employment Equity program in the Department and for International Technical Assistance in Statistical Methodology. Retired in 1995. Recipient of the Career Excellence Award of Statistics Canada,1996.
  • Chairperson of the Employment Equity Committee (1991-1995)
  • 1987-94:  Director, Business Survey Methods Division
    Planning, management and direction of the Division that consisted of 80 professional statisticians and provides statistical methodology services to the Business, Trade and Agricultural Statistics programs.
  • Member of a number of Management Committees of the Department
  • 1983-87:  Assistant Director and Research Co-ordinator, Business Survey Methods Division

    Co-ordination and direction of mathematical statisticians in survey design and research in support of statistical programs related to the agricultural and industrial sectors.
  • 1978-83:  Chief, Agriculture Methodology Section. Methodology of agricultural surveys conducted by Statistics Canada, and evaluation of the Census of Agriculture, related data analysis and research.
  • 1975-78:  Senior Mathematical Statistician. Sample design of the Canada Health Survey, and analysis of data from the survey.

Centre of South Asian Studies, Cambridge University, England, 1974-75: Visiting Fellow

Analysis and presentation of the findings from a survey conducted in Tamil Nadu, India, to study Agrarian Change.

Economics Department of the University of Madras, India, 1971-74:

  • 1973-74:  Research Officer and Statistical Consultant

    Planning, sample design, data collection, processing and analysis for the sample survey to study High-Yielding Varieties of Rice and Agrarian Change in N.Arcot district of Tamil Nadu. Consultant for a similar survey in Sri Lanka. A joint project of the Universities of Madras and Cambridge and of the Agrarian Research and Training Institute of Sri Lanka.
  • 1971-72:  Research Officer

    Statistical aspects of the project on Economic Development and Yield-Increasing Methods of Rice Cultivation in S. Arcot district of Tamil Nadu.

National Sample Survey Department of the Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta, India, 1955-64:

  • Survey Methodologist. Responsible for the planning and design of national sample surveys to collect a variety of socio-economic and agricultural data.

Other Consultancies

  • Statistical Consultant for various national and international agencies advising, planning and conducting sample surveys and data analysis:
  • World Bank: The India Statistical Strengthening Project, 2003.
    • WHO: Advisor for the World Health Surveys, 2002.
    • National Council of Applied Economic Research, India, 1990.
  • International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, USA, 1980-86
    • Social Development Division of the U.N., India, 1972
    • Madras Institute of Development Studies, India, 1972
  • Indian Institute of Public Opinion, India, 1971-73
  • Indian Statistical Institute, Madras, India, 1971
  • Voluntary Health Services Hospital, Madras, India, 1969
  • Madras School of Social Work, Madras, India, 1969-74


  • Lectures and Workshops on Survey Methodology, Sampling Techniques, Statistics, Statistical Quality Control, Marketing Research, and Quantitative Techniques in Planning for various courses of:
    • The International Association of Survey Statisticians, Florence, Italy, 1993; Cairo, Egypt, 1991
    • Survey Research Centre, University of Michigan, USA, 1985
    • Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, Canada, 1985-87
    • Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Canada, 1980-85
    • M.Sc. Statistics and M.A. Economics, Madras University, India 1972-74
    • Diploma in Marketing and Advertising, Madras, India, 1972-73
    • Post-Graduate Diploma in Operational Research and SQC, Summer course on Research Methods in Social Sciences, M. Stat, International Students Education Centre, Officers Training and Evening Courses in Statistics, of the Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta and Madras, India, 1956-74 


  • International Association of Survey Statisticians (IASS):
    • President of the IASS, 1997-99
    • Chair of the Programme Committee for the scientific programme of the IASS at the 49th session of the International Statistical Institute, 1993
    • Member of the IASS Council, 1991-97
  • International Statistical Institute (ISI):
    • Associate editor of the International Statistical Review, 1994-95
    • Member, ISI Publication Committee, 1992-97
    • Member, International Committee on Women in Statistics, 1995-2003
    • Member, Advisory Board for the World Numeracy Project, 1994-97
    • Member, Gregor-Johann Mendel Committee on Agricultural Statistics 1993-95
  • American Statistical Association:
    • Member of the Survey Review Committee, 1989-94.
  • International Conference on Establishment Surveys, Buffalo, New York, June 1993.:
    • Member of the Conference Organizing Committee, and of the editorial committee of the monograph from the conference "Business Survey Methods" published by John Wiley & Sons Inc., 1995.
  • Survey Methodology Journal, Canada:
    • Member of the Management Board, 1987-95.
  • Canadian Journal of Statistics, 1988:
    • Member of the editorial panel for the Special Issue on Current Statistical Work at Statistics Canada,


  • "Family Living Surveys" Chapter in Sampling Theory and Methods by M.N. Murthy, Statistical Publishing Society, 1967.
  • "Data from National Sample Survey" (co-author with S.K.Ekambaram) Chapter in A Guide to Research in Economics edited by C.T. Kurien, Sangam Publishers, Madras, 1973.
  • "Research Methodology" (co-author with R. Chambers, B. Harriss and B. Wickramanayake); "Adoption of the New Technology in North Arcot District" (sole author)' and "Impact of the Cultivation of High-Yielding Varieties of     Paddy on Employment and Income" (co-author with W.P.T.Silva), Chapters in Green-Revolution? edited by B.H.Farmer, Cambridge Commonwealth Series, Macmillan Press Ltd., 1977.
  • "Unique Features of Business Surveys" (co-author with B. Cox) Chapter in Business Survey Methods, edited by B.G. Cox, D.A. Binder, B.N. Chinnappa, A.Christianson, M.J. Colledge and P.S. Kott, John Wiley &  Sons Inc., 1995.


Thirteen papers published in various statistical journals and texts.  Other papers presented at conferences and seminars. 


After retirement Nanjamma and her husband, B.M.Chinnappa have translated the Pattole Palame, a collection of Kodava folksongs and traditions, published in 1924, written in Kannada (text) and the Kodava language (songs, proverbs etc.) by Sri Nadikerianda Chinnappa, into English. This was published in 2003 by Rupa & Co., New Delhi. 

Currently they are visiting and documenting information on the old ancestral homes (ainmanes) in Kodagu. They propose to present this information in a book and on a website with photographs. Congratulates Dr Nanjamma Chinnappa and wishes her the best in her future endeavours!

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Padmini B. Sankar, UAE Jul 11, 2012
Can someone please help me get in touch with this lady? I am writing a family history, and am desperately trying to get in touch with Prof. S.K. Ekambaram, with whom she co-authored a book. Prof. Ekambaram was a close friend of my father in his RIAF days.
Can anyone please help me? Pl. respond to


Fredsouzam, USA Feb 18, 2006
After reading the biography of this lady I am convinced that she is the right person to be in charge of ministry of statistics at the center under ManMohan Singh Govt. once headed by Shri Oscar Fernandes who never had this kind of background.

Dr. KB where does she live at present? in India, Canada or USA? Where is she permanently settled?

Thanks for your presentation.

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