Industrialist BK Birla Passes Away
Birla Group patriarch BK Birla passed away in Mumbai at the age of 98, his family said. He was suffering from age-related ailments.
Birla was the chairman of Century Textiles and Industries and had been active in business since the age of 15. He was instrumental in a slew of business initiatives, starting with his stint as the chairman of Kesoram Industries, they said.
He is survived by his daughters Manjushree Khaitan and Jayshree Mohta, who run Kesoram Industries and Jayshree Tea and Industries respectively. His wife Sarala Birla predeceased him in 2015. His only son Aditya Vikram Birla had died in 1995.
The sources said Birla's body would be brought to his house at Birla Park in Kolkata and the cremation will take place on Thursday. His grandson Kumarmangalam Birla had taken him to Mumbai due to his failing health.
The seat of the Birla brothers in Kolkata —Birla Building —will remain closed on Thursday as a mark of respect to BK Birla.
Born in 1921, Birla was the youngest son of philanthropist Ghanshyam Das Birla. By the time he was 15, he was already actively associated with a large number of companies and eventually became the chairman of Kesoram Industries.
He focussed on the industries such as cotton, viscose, polyester and nylon yarns, refractory, paper, shipping, tyrecord, transparent paper, spun pipe, cement, tea, coffee, cardamom, chemicals, plywood and MDF Board.
The BK Birla group comprised Century Textiles, Century Enka and Jayshree Tea and Industries besides Kesoram Industries.
Birla was also the chairman of the Krishnarpan Charity Trust, which runs an engineering college named BK Birla Institute of Engineering and Technology at Pilani, Rajashthan and a patron of 25 educational institutions across the country. His death was condoled by the industry and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Sanjiv Goenka, chairman of RP Sanjiv Goenka Group, said Birla "led transformational thoughts in Indian industry". The Goenka and the Birla families have cherished very close relationships over decades, he said, adding Birla's death was a huge loss.
Harsh Vardan Neotia of Ambuja Neotia Group called Birla a "colossus", a man of integrity and discipline, a great benefactor of the arts and patron to many cultural and educational institutions across the country. "In his passing away we have lost a tall business leader and philanthropist," he added.
Sitaram Sharma, president of Bharat Chamber of Commerce, said that the country has lost an industrialist with vision, innovative ideas and pragmatism. "We, the generation of entrepreneurs have always looked upon him as one of the founding fathers of Indian industries and there is no doubt that the gap created by his sudden demise can never be filled."
Sanjay Budhia, Patton Group Managing Director said "We have lost a father figure of the Indian industry. A philanthropist, visionary, creator, doer and giver... This is a void that cannot be filled."