Doyen of Indian industry KK Birla passes away

Written by Corporate Bureau | Kolkata, Aug 30 | Updated: Aug 31 2008, 07:50am hrs
Noted industrialist Krishna Kumar Birla passed away in Kolkata on Saturday morning at 7:30 am, a month after his wifes death, leaving behind an industrial empire with a combined turnover of Rs 3,300 crore.

Sources close to KK Birla said he had no identifiable illness or disease and seemed to have internalised his depression caused by his wife Manorama Devis demise on July 29.

KK Birla, who would have turned 90 on October 18, was the eldest son of the legendary Ghanshyam Das Birla by Maha Devi, and the oldest member of the Birla clan before his death, being three years senior to brother Basant Kumar Birla.

He leaves behind three daughtersNandini Nopany, Jyotsna Poddar and Shobhana Bhartia.

KK Birla, as one of the founders of the Indian sugar industry, owned a clutch of sugar mills, Indias largest railway-wagon builder Texmaco, textiles major Sutlej Textiles & Industries, Chambal Fertilisers and the Hindustan Times media house.

Following the news of his death, a steady stream of VIPs and industrialists visited Birla Park to pay their last respects. Among them were West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi and information & broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi.

KK Birla, who had been a Rajya Sabha member for 18 years, usually shuttled between Delhi and Kolkata to manage his diverse businesses.

Sanjiv Goenka, vice-chairman of RPG Enterprises and a former president of CII, said KK Birlas passing away is a loss not only to Indian industry but to India.

He was the sort of person that legends are made of, said Goenka.

Ramesh Maheshwari, Texmacos president & CEO, said KK Birla had been a very fit and disciplined person, and never missed office for a day.

Maheshwari, who has been with

KK Birla for 50 years, said he had a very sharp memory and would not let anyone compromise on values and ethics.

Temperamentally, he was a very stoic personality and never wanted to show himself as weak, Maheshwari said. He was left us marooned but we have inherited his values, his integrity in business management. He was a great perfectionist and would catch us on small things, something that had been told to him two years ago, said Maheshwari.

ITC Ltd chairman YC Deveshwar, said in a statement, We have indeed lost a true son of India, whose tireless efforts have benefited many sections of society. His multidimensional contribution as an Industrialist, a caring Philanthropist, an astute Parliamentarian and an eminent scholar leaves a rich legacy for many to emulate. Dr Birlas passing away will leave a deep void in the industrial landscape of the nation.