BK Birla Group chairman and industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla’s grandfather Basant Kumar Birla passed away in Mumbai on Wednesday. He was 98 years old.
B.K. Birla, or Basant Babu, as they are called in the business circles, was born on January 12, 1921. Immediately after completing the matriculation examination from Kolkata’s Legendary Green School in 1936, B.K. Birla was inducted into family business, especially in Kesoram Cotton Mills Limited. His father ensured that BK Birla had a feeling for the business by starting down and working in his own way. In fact, BK Birla once mentioned in an interview that his first job was in cashier as a cashier.
In 1942, B.K. Birla married Sarlala Biyani, daughter of Savitri and Braj Lal Biani, who was a freedom fighter and first finance minister of Madhya Pradesh in independent India. Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel took part in their marriage.
This couple, in many ways, represents the diverse values of independent India: without sacrificing the traditional values, without the sense of public duty, fulfilling its financial responsibility towards shareholders, the grace of invited guests and strangers.
The couple had three children- son Aditya Vikram Birla (who died in 1995), and daughters Jayshree Mohta and Manjushree Khaitan.
Proximity to GD Birla’s Indian Independence Movement and its leaders also got BK Birla approached his headquarters to see and assimilate many times with the philosophy of Gandhi, Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru.
In fact, his business philosophy was deeply linked with the Gandhi-socio-economic concept of the trusteeship.
As a responsible mentor of wealth, BK Birla was also inspired to extend the family business from cotton textiles to other areas.
An astonishing businessman, he soon expanded into rayon, engineering, cement, medium-density fibroboard, pulp and paper, shipping, tire, tea, and chemicals through Birla Group’s leading footwear companies, Kesaram Industries and Century Textiles. The turnover of the group in FY19 was 16,500 crores.
He also led the development of the group beyond the Indian shores.
Over time, the main companies of the group were Kesoram Industries, Century Textiles and Industries, Century Enka, Mangalam Cement and ECE Industries.
His close team of officials cited many examples of his business skills. For example, whenever they were traveling in India or abroad – they would ask for a sheet of group performance at the end of the day, opening and closing the list of day’s production, raw materials and finished goods, And day sales revenue This snapshot allowed them to get a sense of day-to-day business performance.
But it was not always about business: BK Birla was very fond of photography and art.
In these years, he worked in several companies, including his own group companies, but his favorites were probably his organization with charitable organizations of the group. B.K. Birla and Sarla Birla supervised many charitable trusts and educational institutions.
He was the President of the Krishnarpan Charity Trust, which was a BK in Pilani in Rajasthan. Birla Institute of Engineering and Technology runs the Swargashram Trust, which runs a Sanskrit school in Rishikesh. He also established BK Birla College of Arts, Science and Commerce in Kalyan, near Birla Public School in Qatar and Mumbai.
B.K. Birla has written several books, including Autonomous Autobiography, in which he has remembered his early childhood childhood experience in India before Independence and especially with Gandhi.
Even he continued his practice of maintaining cordial relations with his father and other business families. For example, he remained with the group’s investment in Tata Steel – basically as a passive investment by his father – without troubling the company’s management, due to the stability of the steel firm during the period of unrest and policy instability Provided.
B.K. Birla’s stereotype was probably strengthened and reinforced through two tragedies in his life: his son died in 1995 and his life partner Sarala passed away in 2015.
After the untimely death of his son, he helped his grandson, Kumar Mangalam, commanded the leadership of the AV Birla Group.
B.K. Birla preferred to be present on the 15th floor of Birla Building in BBD Bag in the commercial district of Kolkata, even if it was for only a few hours. The corner office will be empty now.
B.K. Birla’s life arc touched the wider level of people, institutions and activities. His legacy will survive through many of his charitable and educational institutions.
His funeral will take place in Kolkata on Thursday.