Aditya Vikram Birla

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Aditya Vikram Birla
Born (1943-11-14)14 November 1943
Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Died 1 October 1995(1995-10-01) (aged 51)
Baltimore, Maryland, US
Nationality Indian
Ethnicity Marwari
Alma mater Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Occupation Former chairman of Aditya Birla Group
Religion Hindu
Spouse(s) Rajashree Birla
Children Kumar Mangalam (son)
Vasavadatta (daughter)

Aditya Vikram Birla (14 November 1943 – 1 October 1995), was an Indian industrialist. Born into one of the largest business families of India, Birla oversaw the diversification of his group into textiles, petrochemicals and telecommunications. He was one of the first Indian industrialists to expand abroad, setting up plants in South east Asia, the Philippines and Egypt, among other places. His unexpected death at the age of 52 left his young son in charge of his group of companies and also much doubt about whether it would survive him. These doubts however proved unfounded as his company has enjoyed success and so has his legacy of philanthropic activities.

Early life and education[edit]

Birla was born on 14 November 1943 in Kolkata to industrialist Basant Kumar[1] and Sarala Birla.[2] His grandfather Ghanshyam Das Birla was an associate of Mahatma Gandhi and had built his fortune on aluminium prospecting and as the manufacturer of the Ambassador car.[1]

After college in Kolkata, he earned a degree in chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[1] He was married to Rajashri and had a daughter Vasavadatta and a son Kumar Mangalam,[1] who now heads the Aditya Birla Group.[3]


After returning to India in 1965, Birla struck out on his own in textiles. His Eastern Spinning Mills in Kolkata quickly became a success, putting the group's sinking rayon and textile business back on track. He was then placed in charge of the corporation's expansion into the oil sector. It was also the time that Indira Gandhi was consolidating her hold on the Congress Party with a series of populist moves-nationalizing banks and enacting draconian controls on private investment. This greatly dampened his attempt to expand, to build world size-plants, to bring in world-class technology, or even modernise old plants. Having turned around Indian rayon, he now hungered after bigger challenges. His thoughts tuned eastward.

In 1969, Birla set up Indo-Thai Synthetics Company Ltd, the group's first overseas company. In 1973, he established P.T. Elegant Textiles to manufacture spun yarn. It marked the group's first venture in Indonesia. In 1974 Thai Rayon, the Group's Viscose Rayon Staple Fibre business was incorporated in Thailand. In 1975 The Indo Phil Group of companies, the first Indo-Filipino joint venture commenced production of spun yarn. In 1977 Pan Century Edible Oils was incorporated in Malaysia, going on to become the world's largest single-location palm oil refinery. In 1978 Thai Carbon Black, the Group's first carbon black company was incorporated in Thailand. In 1982 P.T Indo Bharat Rayon was established, the first producer of Viscose Staple Fibre in Indonesia. All these ventures not only put the Birla group on world map but also carved a niche for corporate India. Under his leadership the companies became the largest producer of Viscose staple fibre and refiner of palm oil.

Ghanshyam Das Birla died in 1983, bequeathing most of his companies to his grandson Aditya. With Aditya Vikram Birla as the chairman, the Birla group of companies saw success in the expansion of Hindustan Gas and in the conversion of the sick company Indo-Gulf Fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd, which was suffering from a liquidity crisis, into a blue-chip company.


In 1993, Birla was diagnosed with prostate cancer. His wife and son took on many of the responsibilities of the group[4] (There were rumours that he suffered a slipped disc in 1995, but it wasn't true.) He was admitted to the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for treatment for prostate cancer. After four months of struggle he died on 1 October 1995.[1]

Aditya Vikram Birla, the chairman of the $2.3-billion Birla Group and an advocate of expanding Indian economic activity abroad, died Sunday at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore of complications arising from pneumonia, according to his business associates.[5]
Mr. Birla, who was 51 and widely regarded as one of India's most successful businessmen, was admitted to the hospital about four months ago for treatment of a slipped disc. His associates said he had contracted pneumonia in the hospital.[5]
Indian Prime Minister (then Finance Minister) Manmohan Singh called Mr. Birla "among the best and brightest citizens of India."[5]


The Aditya Birla Group had instituted the Aditya Birla Scholarships in memory of Aditya Vikram Birla, to recognise and award fresh talent and potential future leaders from prestigious institutes in India. Every year more than 40 scholars from among six Indian Institutes of Management, seven Indian Institutes of Technology and Birla Institute of Technology and Science receive this scholarship. From the 2012–13-year onwards, this scholarship was extended to 4 law campuses as well.

Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital in Pimpri-Chinchwad has been named after him.

Awards like Aditya Vikram Birla Kalashikhar and Kalakiran Puraskars for excellence in theatre and performing arts are given every year, were instituted in 1996 by the Sangeet Kala Kendra (SKK), which was founded in 1973 by Aditya Vikram Birla to encourage and nurture performing arts.[6] A special commemorative stamp has been released by government of India in the name of Aditya Vikram Birla on 14 January 2013, honouring him as "India's first global industrialist".[7]


Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Hazarika, Sanjoy (3 October 1995). "Aditya Vikram Birla, 52, A Leading Indian Businessman". New York Times. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  2. ^ "Passing the Baton". Economic Times. 27 May 2005. Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  3. ^ "At the helm (Aditya Birla Group Management Team)". Aditya Birla Group. Archived from the original on 9 October 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  4. ^ "Story of one of India's prominent business families". Money Control. 20 February 2005. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  5. ^ a b c Ny Times – Nolan
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ Minhaz Merchant (1997). Aditya Vikram Birla, a biography. Viking. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  9. ^ "Minhaz Merchant". The Times of India. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 

A special commomerative stamp issued by postal department of India on Aditya vikram Birla

External links[edit]