G. D. Birla

Ghanshyam Das Birla (10 April 1894 – 1983) was an Indian businessman and member of the Birla Family.

G. D. Birla
G. D. Birl, posing next to a bust of his father, at his palacial home in 1946
G. D. Birla in 1946
G. D. Birla, Vallabhbhai Patel, and Manibehn Patel
G. D. Birla with Vallabhbhai Patel, and Patel's daughter in the background, at Birla's residence, 1946. The statue is of Raja Baldeo Das Birla in Rajasthani turban

Family history

Ghanshyam Das Birla was born on 10 April 1894 at Pilani village, in the Indian state then known as Rajputana, as a member of the Maheshwari Marwari community.[1] His father was Raja Baldevdas Birla. In 1884 A.D. Baldeo Das Birla went to Bombay in search of new avenues of trade. He established his firm Shiv Narian Baldeo Das in Bombay in 1884 and Baldeo Das Jugal Kishore in 1897 in Calcutta. The firms started business in silver, cotton, grain and other commodities. He was succeeded by 4 sons, Jugal Kishore, Rameshwar Das, Ghanshyam Das and Braj Mohan. Ghanshyam Das was the most successful of the four brothers.


Birla inherited the family business and moved to further diversify them into other areas. Of these, at least three contemporary family business groups existing in India today can trace their ancestry to him. Of these businesses, he wanted to turn the moneylending business into manufacturing. So he left for Calcutta in Bengal Presidency, the world's largest jute producing region. There, he began "[i]ndependently as a jute broker".[2] In 1918, he established Birla Jute Mills, much to the consternation of established European merchants, whom the biased policies of the British government favoured other than the local Bengali merchants. He had to scale a number of obstacles as the British and Scottish merchants tried to shut his business by unethical and monopolistic methods, but he was able to persevere. When World War I resulted in supply problems throughout the British Empire, Birla's business skyrocketed.

With an investment of 5 million 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.[1] He became the founding president of Harijan Sevak Sangh founded by Mahatma Gandhi in Delhi in 1932 .[3]

In the 1940s, he ventured into the territory of cars and established Hindustan Motors. After independence, 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 organising 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.


Ghanshyam Das Birla 1984 stamp of India
Birla on a 1984 stamp of India
Statue of Ghanshyamdas Birla
The statue of Ghanshyam Das Birla at Golders Green Crematorium

Envisioning infrastructural development in his hometown, Birla founded the Birla Engineering College (rechristened as Birla Institute of Technology and Science in 1964) in Pilani and the Technological Institute of Textile & Sciences in Bhiwani among other educational institutions in 1943. Both colleges have evolved over the years to develop into one of India's best engineering schools. Now Pilani also houses Birla Public School, a famous residential public school named 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 realising Birla's dream. TIT&S also evolved as the Center of Excellence in Textile based education and training. Moreover, the G D Birla Memorial School, Ranikhet, a premier residential school has also been established in his honour by Syt. B.K. Birla and is today one of the best residential schools in the nation and even The Birla School in Kalyan, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India was founded by his efforts with the collaboration of Kalyan Citizens' Education Society (KCES).

In 1957, he was awarded India's second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India.

There is a memorial to Ghanshyam Birla in Golders Green Crematorium, Hoop Lane, London. It comprises a large statue overlooking the gardens with an inscription. He died in 1983 at the age of 89.

Relationship with Gandhiji

Birla was a close associate and a steady supporter of Mahatma Gandhi, whom he met for the first time in 1916. Gandhi stayed at Birla's home in New Delhi during the last four months of his life.

Further reading

  • Birla, Ghanshyam Das, In the Shadow of the Mahatma: a personal memoir (Calcutta, 1953)
  • Jajni, R. N., G. D. Birla (New Delhi, 1985)
  • Ross, A., The Emissary: G. D. Birla, Gandhi and Independence (1986)

See also


  1. ^ a b "Birla, Ghanshyamdas (1894–1983), businessman and politician in India". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/52776. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ Purie, Aroon; Dubashi, Jay (5 March 2014). "'I am not a businessman'". India Today. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  3. ^ Ratna G. Revankar (1971). The Indian Constitution--: A Case Study of Backward Classes. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. pp. 124–. ISBN 978-0-8386-7670-7.

External links

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Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani

Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani (shortened BITS Pilani or BITS) is a private institute of higher education and a deemed university under Section 3 of the UGC Act 1956. The institute is one among the 6 Indian 'Institutes of Eminence' recognized by the Government of India in 2018. It is established across 4 campuses and has 15 academic departments. It focuses primarily on higher education in engineering and sciences and on its management programme.The institute was established in its present form in 1964. During this period, the institute's transformation from a regional engineering college to a national university was backed by G.D. Birla. BITS, since then, has expanded to campuses at Pilani, Goa, Hyderabad and Dubai.

BITS conducts the All-India computerized entrance examination, BITSAT (BITS Aptitude Test). Admission is merit-based, as assessed by the BITSAT examination. The fully residential institute is privately supported.

Birla Vidya Mandir

Birla Vidya Mandir in Nainital is a residential public school for boys in India which was founded in July 1947. The school is the product of the vision of Govind Ballabh Pant, an Indian independence activist.

It was built in the 1870s as Oak Openings High School and the naturalist and story teller Jim Corbett studied at it. In 1905, Oak Openings was amalgamated with the Philander Smith Institute of Mussoorie, resulting in the Philander Smith College. In the wake of the Second World War, Hallet War School was built on the same campus, established for the children of the British who were in India at that time due to the war.

Birla Vidya Mandir came into existence in 1947, when Shree G. D. Birla bought the estate.

Before India achieved its independence, Pant wanted to start a public school; a donation from Ghanshyam Das Birla, a philanthropist and industrialist, made this possible. Pant then used the estate of Philander Smith, which had housed the Hallet War School during India's war years, to create Birla Vidya Mandir.

The school takes admissions from Class 4 to Class 12. Though an English medium school, the ethos is totally Indian. Prayers in Sanskrit are held before every meal and students celebrate the festivals of India.

The school is affiliated to CBSE Delhi and is a member of Indian Public School's Conference (IPSC), National Progressive Schools’ Conference(NPSC), CBSE Sahodaya School Complex and International Confederation of Principals (ICP).

The school is an ISO 9002:2000(E) (Quality Management System) and ISO:14001:1996 (Environmental Management System) certified institution.

The school is 330 km to the northeast of Delhi in the Central Himalayan township of Nainital. Its campus is 65 acres (260,000 m2) in area set at the top of a ridge, called "Sher-Ka-Danda" overlooking the lake, 1,500 feet (460 m) above the town and 7,800 feet (2,400 m) above sea level. It is connected by a motorable road.


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G. D. Birla Award for Scientific Research

G.D. Birla Award for Scientific Research is an award instituted in 1991 by the K. K. Birla Foundation in honour of the Indian philanthropist Ghanshyam Das Birla. The award is given to an outstanding scientific research, mostly during the past 5 years, undertaken by an Indian scientist, who is below the age of 50, living and working in India. It carries a cash prize of ₹1.5 lakhs (0.15 million). The award is given every year and is available for all branches of science including medical science, basic and applied.

G. D. Birla Centre for Education

G.D. Birla Centre for Education is an CISCE affiliated school in Kolkata. The third-youngest school in the Ashok Hall Group Of Schools (the youngest being Ashok Hall Girls' Higher Secondary School established in 1951 and the second-youngest being Ashok Hall Girls' Residential School in Ranikhet, Uttaranchal founded in 1993), it was founded in 1973 and is named after Ghanshyam Das Birla. The school is located in Ranikuthi near Tollygunge. The school boasts computer, biotech, physics, biology and chemistry laboratories as well as a library. Activities such as western and eastern dance, music, art and craft are encouraged and provided to the junior school students through links with BILAMS. Another subject of the school, Vedic chanting helps the students know more about God and helps them feel refreshed through chanting prayers. .

G. D. Birla Memorial School

G. D. Birla Memorial School is a secondary and senior secondary school offering education to over 200 students from grades 4 through 12. It was established in 1987 in memory of the Indian industrialist Ghanshyam Das Birla by its founders Syt. B K Birla (Basant Kumar Birla) and Smt. Sarla Birla . It is situated in Ranikhet (Dist. Almora, India).

K. K. Birla Foundation

The K.K. Birla Foundation was established in 1991 by Krishna Kumar Birla in Delhi. Its mission is to promote literature (especially Hindi literature) and the arts, as well as education and social work. It regularly gets mentioned in the media for the awards it confers, including:

the Saraswati Samman ₹500,000 (US$7,000) for literary work in any Indian language(22),

the Vyas Samman ₹250,000 (US$3,500) for prose/poetry work in Hindi,

the Bihari Puraskar ₹100,000 (US$1,400) for prose/poetry work in Hindi/Rajasthani, only authors from Rajasthan are eligible,

the Shankar Puraskar ₹150,000 (US$2,100) for a work in Hindi concerning Indian philosophy, culture and/or art,

the Vachaspati Puraskar ₹150,000 (US$2,100) for any work in Sanskrit,

the G.D. Birla Award for Scientific Research ₹150,000 (US$2,100).

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Mysore Cements Limited

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The company produced its major output of 1 ton cement with the investment of about 20 million Rupees, in 1962. MCL was immediately taken over by Kaisers and G.D Birla and from then the following years company started producing more cement and it was 4 tpa by the end of year 1968.

With an investment of 23 million, MCL produced 6 tpa of cement in Ammasandra unit Based in Tumkur District of Karnataka State. After the death of G.D Birla, in 1983 MCL was totally under control of Birlas and Shri. S.K Birla, grandson of GD Birla was declared the chairman of the organisation

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Tarachand Ghanshyamdas

Tarachand Ghanshyamdas was a famous Marwari trading firm that flourished from 1791 to 1957.

It is believed to have been responsible to introducing many of now famous Marwari clans from Shekhawati to national and international business field.

The grandfathers of both G.D. Birla and Lakshmi Mittal worked for great Tarachand Ghanshyamdas while grandfather of Raja Baldeo Das Birla worked at the great Ganeriwala FirmTarachand Ghanshyamdas in 1870, had offices at Kolkata, Mumbai, Amritsar, the Malwa opium belt of Madhya Pradesh and elsewhere. Another great Marwari firm great Sevaram Ramrikhdas employed, the RPG Group patriarch, Rama Prasad Goenka’s grandfather’s great-grandfather, Ramdutt. Its division resulted in independent branches at Kanpur, Mirzapur, Farrukhabad and Kolkata, the Singhanias are descendents of the Kanpur branch.

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