Doyen of Indian industry BK Birla passes away

Abhishek Law Mumbai | Updated on July 03, 2019 Published on July 03, 2019

B K Birla

Veteran industrialist Basant Kumar Birla, Chairman of the BK Birla Group of companies and grandfather of Kumar Mangalam Birla, died in Mumbai on Wednesday. He was 98.

Basant Kumar, or BK as he was popularly called, was born in 1921 and is survived by daughters Jayshree and Manjushree.

A legend in his own right, BK’s legacy spans a bevy of group companies — some listed, some unlisted or closely held — whose total worth is said to run into ₹10,000 crore, if not more.

His sprawling empire, the BK Birla Group, includes industry-leading companies such as Kesoram Industries, Century Textiles and Jaya Shree Tea. It was under his leadership that companies such as Kesoram Industries and Century Textiles started expanding into new sectors including cement and tyres.

BK had to cut short his formal education as he took on the reins of the family business. By 18, he was already looking after father Ghanshyam Das Birla’s companies.

As soon as the Centre started easing controls on cement, he was quick to get into the segment.

He also tapped into opportunities in varied sectors such as cotton, viscose, polyester and nylon yarns, refractory, paper, shipping, tyrecord, transparent paper, spun pipe and MDF board.

Love for education

BK also came to be known as a patron of education and liberal arts. Setting up the Mahadevi Birla Shishu Vihar was the group’s first step into the education sector. Subsequently, BK built educational institutions ranging from schools and colleges to engineering and management institutes across the country. He was the Chairman of the BK Birla Institute of Engineering and Technology, Krishnarpan Charity Trust and about 25 other educational trusts and institutes.

Some of the notable institutions in the list are: BITS Pilani (Rajasthan); the BK Birla Centre of Education in Pune, and the Birla Institute of Management Technology in Delhi.

His last rites will be performed in Kolkata on Thursday, family sources said.



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Published on July 03, 2019
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