Early Life

  • Ghanshyam Das Birla was born on 10 April 1894 in the village of Pilani, Jaipur.
  • Although he did not receive any formal education, G.D. Birla was a voracious reader and by reading books, newspapers, biographies and travelogues, he learnt a lot about history, economics and Sanskrit.
  • He came to Calcutta in 1910 and started trading in opium, silver and other commodities.

    Ghanshyam Das Birla
    Ghanshyam Das Birla

Forming Birla Empire

  • Soon he formed trading company called Birla Brothers in 1918. After setting up Birla Brother, Ghanshyam Das Birla set up sugar and paper mills in the 1930s.
  • He then diversified into various other goods, ranging from textiles, synthetics, engineering, and capital goods.

Public Life and Political Activity

  • He funded a large number of public and educational institutions in the country, like the one in Pilani. The Birla Education Trust has been a boon towards the emancipation of women and the betterment of the Harijans.
  • Birla’s political career started with his nomination to the Bengal Legislative Council. With his brothers, he ventured into print media by acquiring two newspapers in Calcutta.

    Ghanshyam Das Birla with Sardar Vallabhai Patel
    Ghanshyam Das Birla with Sardar Vallabhai Patel
  • He rejected being knighted, by the British Crown, in 1932. He went against the colonial domination of the Indian economy.
  • The Birla Empire flourished even in 1940s and 1960s as these were difficult years for India because of the partition. Soon became one of the largest industrial groups in the country.
  • During the 1960s, Birla was considered to be an unofficial ambassador of India to financial institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank.
  • He also contributed heavily in economic planning through the Bombay Plan initiative in the mid 1940s. G.D. Birla, Kasturbhai Lalbhai, JRD Tata and Shri Ram formulated the Bombay Plan was a plan for post-World War II industrialization of India.
  • His activities helped create a environment in which Indian enterprise could flourish. This made him industrial legend.
  • Government of India honoured Birla with the Padma Vibushan in 1957. He received the degree of Honorary Doctor of Laws from Banaras Hindu University in 1967.
  • He died on 11 June 1983. There is a memorial to Ghanshyam Das Birla in Golders Green Crematorium, Crematorium, Hoop Lane, London.

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