Basant Kumar Birla was an Indian businessman of the Birla family. He was the chairman of the BK Birla Group and grandfather of industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla. Basant Kumar Birla was instrumental in a slew of business initiatives. He was also engaged in number philanthropic work in the areas of education, healthcare, women empowerment and the promotion of arts.
Born on 12 January 1921, Basant Kumar Birla was the youngest son of famed businessman Ghanshyam Das Birla. Fondly called in Basant babu in business circles, he did his matriculation from Kolkata’s legendary Hare School in 1936. Afterward, he was inducted into the family business and was exposed to managing risks. Soon he was made to understand the ‘partha’ system which was designed to monitor daily financial performances of group operations.
An astute businessman, Basant Kumar Birla soon expanded the Birla group’s manufacturing footprint in areas of textiles, engineering, cement, medium-density fibreboards, pulp and paper, shipping, tyres, tea, and chemicals, among others. He also led the growth of the group beyond Indian shores by establishing the Indo Ethiopian Textiles Share Company. In response, the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I, awarded him the medal of the Order of Menelik II, the highest Ethiopian award. Over the years, he held many positions in many companies, including his own group companies.
B.K. Birla was married to Sarala Biyani. His wedding was attended by Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The couple had three children—son Aditya Vikram Birla (who died in 1995), and daughters Jayshree Mohta and Manjushree Khaitan. Apart from business, B.K. Birla also oversaw many charitable trusts and educational institutions.
He was the chairman of the Krishnarpan Charity Trust, which runs an engineering college in Pilani, Rajasthan. He also looked after the Swargashram Trust, which administers a Sanskrit school in Rishikesh. Under his aegis, Birla Public School was established in Qatar. He also established Birla College of Arts, Science & Commerce in Kalyan near Mumbai. He penned down many books, including an autobiography entitled Svantah Sukhaya.
Illness and Death
He passed away in Mumbai on Wednesday at the age of 98. He is survived by his daughters Jayshree Mohta and Manjushree Khaitan, and grandson Kumar Mangalam Birla. He death was mourned by many eminent personalities from various fields.
President of India: Sorry to hear of the passing of veteran industrialist Shri B.K. Birla. He was a stalwart who made crucial contributions to business, education and several social causes in India. My condolences to his family and countless colleagues and associates #PresidentKovind
Narendra Modi: Shri Basant Kumar Birla was a distinguished industrialist who contributed to our nation’s prosperity. He also made a mark as an exceptional philanthropist. His passion for education was well-known. My thoughts are with his family and well-wishers in this hour of grief. Om Shanti.
Vasundhara Raje: Condole the passing of Shri Basant Kumar Birla ji. An industrialist, a philanthropist and a passionate educationist - he contributed richly to India’s progress. My thoughts are with his family in this hour of grief.
Jayshree Mohta, Manjushree Khaitan, and Kumar Mangalam Birla
(FOLLOWER OF Shri BASANT KUMAR BIRLA)
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