Dec 1, 2010

Ghanshyam Das Birla (G.D. Birla) in 1946

Indian Industrialist G. D. Birla backer & benefactor to Mohandas Gandhi, posing next to bust of his father, the founder of the Birla firm, at his palacial home in 1946

Shri Ghanshyam Das "G.D." Birla (April 10, 1894 – June 11, 1983) was an Indian businessman and member of the influential Birla Family. A close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, G.D Birla was the most important pre-Independence contributor to the Indian National Congress. He also advised Gandhiji on economic policies.

Birla was a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, whom he met for the first time in 1916, and Gandhi was at Birla's home in New Delhi when he was assassinated 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 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 in Pilani among other educational institutions. The college has evolved over the years to develop into one of India's best engineering schools, BITS Pilani. Today, 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 and the local population enjoy a highly symbiotic relationship with these institutions, thereby stepping towards realizing G.D.'s dream. Moreover, G.D.Birla Memorial School, Ranikhet, a premier residential school has also been eshtablished 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's second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India. (Wikipedia)

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