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Ghanshyam Das Birla: Founder of the Birla Empire

Born on 10 April 1894, Ghanshyam Das Birla was a native of Pilani village and a member of the Marwari community. He was the founder of the well known Birla Group of Companies. His grandfather Shiv Narayan Birla was a traditional Marwari moneylender.

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Birla made his debut in the business world during the First World War. He started with a cotton mill in Sabzi Mandi and went on to establish Kesoram Cotton Mills. Along with cotton mills, his interest got diverted to the jute business for which he left for Kolkata in Bengal, the world’s largest jute-producing region. He established the Birla Jute Mills in Bengal. He had to face several obstacles because the British and Scottish merchants tried very hard to shut his business, but he was resolute in his decision to run the factory. During World War I when supply problems emerged throughout the British Empire, his company became a life-saving entity.

Birla continued to work for the family business which now had diversified into other areas. Three business groups exist today, tracing back to the pioneering work of Ghanshyam.

He was also one of the close associates of Mahatma Gandhi and advised him on various economic policies. Birla was also the founder of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). He was responsible for the construction of various Birla Mandirs.

He died in 1983 at the age of 90. In his honour, the G. D. Birla Award for Scientific Research was instituted to encourage and reward scientists for their contribution to the various fields of science.

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