It was in August 1978, CSIR had awarded a grant to Prof. G. Sankaranarayanan of the Department of Statistics, Annamalai University, Annamalainagar for conducting a national Symposium on Queues, Inventories and Reliability. Many eminent scholars and researchers in Probability, Statistics and Stochastic Process had gathered at the feet of Lord Nataraja, Chidambaram. They mooted the idea of having similar gatherings of like minded people regularly, may be under the aegis of a society. Initially the topics of interest suggested were Probability and Stochastic Processes.
The Society was registered in Bombay in 1981. It was registered under No. BOM 225/81 GBB – SD in 1981, with official address of the Department of Mathematics of I.I.T. Bombay. There were twelve founding members in the first governing body (executive committee), with Prof. G. Sankaranarayanan as the President, Prof. M.N. Gopalan as the Secretary and Dr. Krishnamoorthy as the Treasurer.
Membership of the society was open to all those who were supportive of the objectives of the society. The scope being wide, the members set off with a high vision of developing ISTPA on the model of American Mathematical Society or Institute of Mathematical Statistics or Royal Statistical Society. At that time, academic Research was mainly confined to the institutions abroad. With a couple of exceptions like Sankhya, standards for research were being set by some of the journals published from outside India. Even Indian Journals often preferred papers from authors outside India. Indian research workers especially from Universities and Colleges were struggling to see their papers in print. They had little or no facility to refer to journals / periodicals or attend conferences, no computing or typing facility.
In spite of this lack of resources some very useful work was being carried out; it was thus necessary to encourage this kind of activity. At that time, Statistics was being introduced as a subject study in more and more universities and colleges. The position of Teachers in the colleges was worse than that of those in the Universities; they were over burdened with teaching work with no opportunity for career advancement. Such Teachers saw some hope in the activities of ISTPA and joined in large numbers. They wanted to include statistics name ISTPA was changed to ISPS Indian Society for Probability & Statistics. The objectives of the society remained almost unchanged except for the addition of Statistics in addition to Probability.
Encouraging the younger generation to participate is the primary duty of any society. Dr. U.S. Nair memorial award for Young Statisticians is an activity in this direction. This award is made out of a generous annual grant from the family trust of Dr. U.S. Nair, an eminent statistician of yester years, hailing from Kerala. Papers invited for the award are received by the Secretary, who checks the eligibility condition and forwards them to the convener. The award is of Rs. 1500/-and a citation given to the paper adjudged best by a panel of judges appointed by the local organizing committee. A second award / prize has been instituted by Prof. M.N. Gopalan, Founder Secretary of ISPS.
The Journal of ISPS started in 1994 with Prof. B.R. Bhat as its Chief Editor and Prof. N.R. Mohan as the Executive Editor. Now, Volume 9 of the Journal has come out in 2006. Currently Prof. K. Srinivasa Rao is the Chief Editor.
One of the intentions of the founders of ISPS, was that it should be a professional body liaising with administrators in government and other organizations in statistical matters as a mouth piece of Statistical community.