Articles General

The mission of PGDBA

By Anurag Malakar, PGDBA Batch-5 (2019-21)

The year 2005 | A regular morning in a middle-class Indian’s life

The middle-aged mom heaved a sigh of relief, having just sent off her kids on the school bus. It’s been a busy morning for her; she had woken up early to cook food for her husband and the two darling-turned-devils of her eyes. She returns upstairs and spends the rest of the morning preparing lunch for her kids who’ll soon be home, arguing with her maid, and reminding the security guard for the umpteenth time to call a plumber to repair the leaky faucet in her kitchen. She watches a repeat of her favorite TV show on Star Plus for a while before going to the market and buying fresh vegetables and bread for the next day.

The year 2019 | A technology-enabled morning in an aspirational Indian’s life

The father sits down on the sofa in the living room, exhausted after an early morning run. He checks his Fitbit and grins as the tiny screen highlights that his mean speed was 25% higher than last month’s average. After freshening up, he wakes up the kids and walks over to the living room. While pouring milk and cereal into three bowls, he observes that the pack of cereals is almost empty. His kids enter the living room and call out to Alexa to play their customized playlist of morning songs, and she dutifully obliges. He whips out his phone, opens WhatsApp and video calls his better half who’s away on a business meeting. The happy family reunion is interrupted by the sound of the doorbell, which suggests that Amazon will timely deliver the new toy the younger kid had been demanding for the past week. The dad checks the time, gets dressed quickly, and books a cab while tying his shoes. He drops his kids off to school and orders their favorite pack of cereals on Grofers. He calculates that he has just about enough time to finish the Netflix special that he had dozed off while watching last night. The app’s proprietary algorithm that incessantly analyzes his viewing habit dutifully suggests a new range of TV Shows for him to binge-watch later.

The world is generating a diverse range of data like never before. Over the last couple of years, 90% of the total data in the world has been generated. More than 3.7 billion people use the Internet today, and that number is only increasing. Google is processing more than forty thousand searches every second, while 41000 new pictures are being uploaded on Instagram every minute. By the time you’re done reading this paragraph, Uber riders would’ve taken more than forty-five thousand trips!

In this scenario, businesses have an unprecedented opportunity to capitalize on the vast amount of information they are gathering on their current as well as prospective customers. Social Media is analyzing the behavioral patterns of individual users and predicting their affinities with great accuracy. The entire world is moving towards a connected networking platform with the advent of the Internet of Things and Machine Learning techniques. Data has become the new oil, and Data Scientists and Analysts are expected to monetize this oil to the greatest extent possible. But this burgeoning sector is experiencing a shortage of an efficient workforce. The lack of data scientists has become a major constraint, and industries are clamoring for individuals who can make sense of the data they are amassing and provide tangible business advantages. There are a widening demand and supply gap in the market, and five years ago, IIM Calcutta, in conjunction with ISI Kolkata and IIT Kharagpur, had sought to capitalize on the mismatch.


That’s how PGDBA was conceptualized, in accordance to the industry demands while paying due heed to their suggestions. As the fourth batch prepares to venture beyond the gates of Joka, the last one and a half years of training imparted at these stellar institutions are going to be employed. The industry has steep expectations of this bunch of talented individuals. They’re expected to draw meaningful insights out of data that benefits their businesses. From risk management to healthcare analytics, to behavioral analytics and digital marketing; the needs that PGDBA graduates are expected to cater to are diverse.

As the world keeps amassing higher amounts of data, it’ll become increasingly difficult to make sense out of it. It’ll be akin to finding the precisely manufactured red coloured needle out of multiple piles of slightly deformed red coloured needles; surgical precision is critical to ensure it does not become a bloodbath. That’s where this course comes in, perfectly positioned to meet the business requirements by capitalizing on the technological advancements of the 21st century.


The ISI Chapter

The first semester started on July 20, 2015. The classes were held initially at the Kolmogorov bhavan. Within a month we were given our own classroom in the Satyendra Nath Bose Bhavan.


Kolmogorov bhavan, ISI

Our curriculum consisted of 5 subjects. The subjects and the professors involved were:

Statistical inference – Amitava Banerjee

Stochastic processes – Dr. Bimal Roy & Dr. Kishan Chand Gupta

Computing for data sciences – Dr. Sourav Sengupta

Statistical structures in data – Debashish Sengupta

Database Management Systems – Dr. Pinakpani Pal & Amiya Das

By far the stars of the course were the faculty members. It was an honour to interact with a Padma Shree awardee in Dr. Bimal Roy. To be taught on a regular basis by such an esteemed personality was slightly overwhelming and hugely enriching. The sheer brilliance of the man and his way of looking at probability and its applications was an experience difficult to pen down. Dr. Kishan Chand Gupta shared the course and taught Markov Chains.

SN Bhawan

 Satyendra Nath bhavan , ISI Campus

Diligent and sincere, Prof. Debashish Sengupta was the ideal teacher. He covered every topic rigorously starting right with the basics of statistics to the highly complex multivariate analysis. What seemed an easy course initially, became heavily loaded and among the toughest by the time the course came to its completion. Tutorials were held every week to discuss exercise problems.

The jovial Prof. Amitava Banerjee taught us the habit of drawing meaningful inferences out of large volumes of data. Drawing from his vast pool of consultancy experience, he inculcated in us the ability to convert real life business problems into statistical problems. His assignments involved working on datasets and testing hypothesis in the correct way.

Dr. Pinakpani Pal was interactive, and worked hard to ensure that our stay was a comfortable one. His course had 2 parts: the theoretical knowledge of databases, and a hands-on SQL application. He shared the course with Amiya Das, a seasoned professional at Oracle.

The friendly and ever enthusiastic Dr Sourav Sengupta was always approachable and motivated the entire batch in getting accustomed with highly complex ideas. His passion for teaching shone through as he went through the concepts of linear algebra and machine learning algorithms. He organised the course superbly and the web page for his course was among the best resource repositories we could have hoped for.

The invited lectures were top drawer, with experienced professionals coming in to share their insights and recommendations about the field of analytics. Overall the first semester was a learning experience beyond compare and laid a solid foundation on which we can build in our journey towards becoming well-rounded data scientists.


   Our hostel, Deshmukh Bhavan