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Ghanshyam Das Birla

Ghanshyam Das Birla

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Ghanshyam Das "G.D." Birla (April 10, 1894 – June 11, 1983) was an Indian
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 businessman and member of the influential Birla Family
Birla family
The Birla family is one of the foremost business houses in India. The fore-father of the Birla family is Shiv Narain Birla, a member of the Marwari community from Pilani, in the westerly state of Rajasthan. He moved to Bombay around 1857 to establish a trading house. His son, Baldeodas Birla moved...

.
Birla's grandfather Shiv Narayana Birla wanted to diversify from the traditional marwari business of lending money against pawned items. He left Pilani
Pilani
Pilani is a small town situated in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. It is in the Jhunjhunu district in Rajasthan, India. It notable for being the home of a large number of education institutes for its size.-Etymology:...

, his hometown in Rajasthan
Rajasthan
Rājasthān the land of Rajasthanis, , is the largest state of the Republic of India by area. It is located in the northwest of India. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert , which has an edge paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with...

 with a modest capital to Bombay to establish a business in cotton dealership. The venture was successful and he came back to Pilani
Pilani
Pilani is a small town situated in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. It is in the Jhunjhunu district in Rajasthan, India. It notable for being the home of a large number of education institutes for its size.-Etymology:...

 to build a huge mansion (or Haveli), which still stands by the name Birla Haveli. GD birla's father Baldeodas birla was adopted from the Navalgarh birla family. Baldeodas's fortune was made along with his nephew (sister's son) Fulchand Sodhani of Lachmangargh, in a very successful speculation in opium trade running into more than 10 million rupees during those days.

Birla inherited the family business
Family business
A family business is a business in which one or more members of one or more families have a significant ownership interest and significant commitments toward the business’ overall well-being....

 and moved to further diversify them into other areas. Of these, at least three contemporary family business groups existing in India today can trace their ancestry to Ghanshyam. Of these businesses, he wanted to turn the pawned items business into manufacturing. So he left for Calcutta in Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

, the world's largest jute
Jute
Jute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fibre that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. It is produced from plants in the genus Corchorus, which has been classified in the family Tiliaceae, or more recently in Malvaceae....

 producing region. There he established a jute firm, much to the consternation of established European merchants, whom the biased policies of the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 government favoured other than the local Bengali
Bengali people
The Bengali people are an ethnic community native to the historic region of Bengal in South Asia. They speak Bengali , which is an Indo-Aryan language of the eastern Indian subcontinent, evolved from the Magadhi Prakrit and Sanskrit languages. In their native language, they are referred to as বাঙালী...

 merchants. He had to scale a number of obstacles as the British and Scottish
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 merchants tried to shut his business by unethical and monopolistic methods, but he was able to persevere. When World War I resulted in supply problems throughout the British Empire, Birla's business sky-rocketed.

Birla was a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , pronounced . 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement...

, whom he met for the first time in 1916, and Gandhi was at Birla's home in New Delhi
New Delhi
New Delhi is the capital city of India. It serves as the centre of the Government of India and the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. New Delhi is situated within the metropolis of Delhi. It is one of the nine districts of Delhi Union Territory. The total area of the city is...

 when he was assassinated
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

 in 1948, having lived there for the last four months of his life.

With an investment of Rs.50 lakhs in 1919, the Birla Brothers Limited was formed. A mill was set up in Gwalior in the same year.

In 1926, he was elected to the Central Legislative Assembly
Central Legislative Assembly
The Central Legislative Assembly was a legislature for India created by the Government of India Act 1919 from the former Imperial Legislative Council, implementing the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms...

 of British India.

In 1930s, G.D. Birla set up Sugar and Paper mills.

In 1940s, he ventured into the territory of cars and established Hindustan Motors. After independence, Ghanshyam Das Birla invested in tea and textiles through a series of acquisitions of erstwhile European companies. He also expanded and diversified into cement, chemicals, rayon and steel tubes. Ghanshyam Das Birla during the Quit India movement of 1942, had conceived the idea of organizing a commercial bank with Indian capital and management, and the United Commercial Bank Limited was incorporated to give shape to that idea. Uco Bank, formerly United Commercial Bank, established in 1943 in Kolkata, is one of the oldest and major commercial bank of India.

Envisioning infrastructural development in his hometown, Birla founded the Birla Engineering College
Birla Institute of Technology and Science
Birla Institute of Technology & Science, is a private university located in Pilani, Rajasthan, India. BITS Pilani is considered one of the most prestigious and selective universities in India...

 in Pilani
Pilani
Pilani is a small town situated in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. It is in the Jhunjhunu district in Rajasthan, India. It notable for being the home of a large number of education institutes for its size.-Etymology:...

 and Technological Institute of Textile & Sciences
Technological Institute of Textile & Sciences
The Technological Institute of Textile and Sciences "TITS" , founded in 1943, offers engineering programs and postgraduate programs.The institute provides lectures by in-house and visiting faculty, expert lectures, discussions, seminars, project assignments and visits to industries and project...

 in Bhiwani
Bhiwani
Bhiwani is a city and a municipal council in Bhiwani district in the state of Haryana, India. It is known as the city of temples. Besides being a seat of spiritual learning, the city has been the centerstage of regional politics. The city is hometown to three of Haryana's chief ministers: Bansi...

 among other educational institutions in 1943. Both colleges have evolved over the years to develop into one of India's best engineering schools. Now Pilani also houses a wing of Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute (CEERI), a famous residential, public school christened after Birla's family and a number of polytechnic colleges. The town of Pilani
Pilani
Pilani is a small town situated in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. It is in the Jhunjhunu district in Rajasthan, India. It notable for being the home of a large number of education institutes for its size.-Etymology:...

 and the local population enjoy a highly symbiotic relationship with these institutions, thereby stepping towards realizing G.D.'s dream. TIT&S also evolved as Center of Excellence in Textile based education and training. Moreover, G.D.Birla Memorial School, Ranikhet, a premier residential school has also been established in his honor by Syt. B.K. Birla and is today one of the best residential schools in the nation.

In 1957, he was awarded India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

's second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan
Padma Vibhushan
The Padma Vibhushan is the second highest civilian award in the Republic of India. It consists of a medal and a citation and is awarded by the President of India. It was established on 2 January 1954. It ranks behind the Bharat Ratna and comes before the Padma Bhushan...

 by the Government of India
Government of India
The Government of India, officially known as the Union Government, and also known as the Central Government, was established by the Constitution of India, and is the governing authority of the union of 28 states and seven union territories, collectively called the Republic of India...

.

There is a memorial to Ghanshyam Birla in Golders Green Crematorium
Golders Green Crematorium
Golders Green Crematorium and Mausoleum was the first crematorium to be opened in London, and one of the oldest crematoria in Britain. The land for the crematorium was purchased in 1900, costing £6,000, and was opened in 1902 by Sir Henry Thompson....

, Hoop Lane, London. It comprises a large statue overlooking the gardens with an inscription.He died in 1983 at the age of 90.

Further reading

  • Birla, Ghanshyam Das, In the Shadow of the Mahatma: a personal memoir (Calcutta, 1953)
  • Jajni, R. N., G. D. Birla (New Delhi, 1985)
  • Ross, A., The Emissary: G. D. Birla, Gandhi and Independence (1986)

See also

  • Birla Family
    Birla family
    The Birla family is one of the foremost business houses in India. The fore-father of the Birla family is Shiv Narain Birla, a member of the Marwari community from Pilani, in the westerly state of Rajasthan. He moved to Bombay around 1857 to establish a trading house. His son, Baldeodas Birla moved...

  • Birla Foundation
  • Birla Vidya Mandir
    Birla Vidya Mandir
    Birla Vidya Mandir, Nainital is a Residential Public School for boys in India that opened in July 1947. The school is the product of the vision of Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant, an Indian independence activist....

  • G D Birla Memorial School
    G D Birla Memorial School
    G D Birla Memorial School was established in 1987 in memory of the Indian industrialist Ghanshyam Das Birla by its founders Syt. B K Birla and Smt. Sarla Birla is a school situated in Ranikhet G D Birla Memorial School was established in 1987 in memory of the Indian industrialist Ghanshyam Das...


External links