Industrialist BK Birla, grandfather of Kumar Mangalam Birla passed awayImage: Getty Images
Basant Kumar Birla was a great colossus in the business firmament of our country. In his passing away we have not just lost a tall business leader but also a great philanthropist.
He had nurtured and set up many institutions in the field of education and culture that are centers of excellence today. He, together with his wife late Smt. Sarala Birla, were great patron of arts and actively supported and promoted the rich artistic and cultural traditions of our country.
On a personal note, I have had the great privilege and pleasure of interacting with him on several occasions. Our families were close and I would very often accompany my late uncle Suresh Neotia when he went to visit B.K. Babu. B.K. Babu was a great disciplinarian and very punctual, and I remember that we had to be particular to be there absolutely at the appointed hour. He was very soft spoken and kind hearted and had a very curious mind. In spite of the fact that our businesses were very small compared to the vast empire that he presided over, he would often ask fairly detailed questions on the working of our business. This clearly gave me insight into a man who was always curious to know more and to learn.
I have had the privilege of receiving his affection and blessings from ever since I can remember and indeed they will remain as very cherished memories.
He was greatly fond of music and at the annual Gulab Bari concert held on the lawns of our house, he would make it a point to come, even if it was for a short while.
He maintained very high personal discipline. His diet was frugal, and he was very particular about the timing of his meals, sleep schedule and walks.
He will remain a great source of inspiration to his various well-wishers and admirers. He leaves behind a very rich legacy, which is more than ably steered by his much accomplished and celebrated grandson, Kumar Mangalam Birla, and his two enterprising daughters, Jayashree-ji and Manjushree-ji, both of whom are actively involved in the family businesses and philanthropic activities. The writer is chairman, Ambuja Neotia
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