BK Birla together with his wife late Sarala Birla were great patron of arts and actively supported and promoted the rich artistic and cultural traditions of our country.
Shri Basant Kumar Birla was a colossus in the business firmament of our country. In his passing away we have not just lost a tall business leader, but also a great philanthropist. He had nurtured and set up many institutions in the field of education and culture that are centres of excellence today. He together with his wife late Sarala Birla were great patron of arts and actively supported and promoted the rich artistic and cultural traditions of our country.
On a personal note, I have had the great privilege and pleasure of interacting with him on several occasions. Our families were closely known to each other and I would often accompany my late uncle Suresh Neotia when he went to visit BK babu—who was a great disciplinarian and very punctual, and I remember we had to be particular to be there absolutely at the appointed hour. BK babu was soft-spoken and kind-hearted, and had a curious bent of mind. In spite of the fact that our businesses were very small compared to the vast empire he presided over, he would often ask fairly detailed questions on the working of our business. This clearly gave me an insight into a man who was always curious to know more, and to learn.
I have had the privilege of receiving his affection and blessings from ever since I can remember, and indeed they will remain cherished memories. He was fond of music, and at the annual Gulab Bari concert in the lawns of our house, he would make it a point to come, even if it was for a short period of time.
He maintained high personal discipline. His diet was frugal and simple, and he was very particular about the timing of his eating, resting and walking. I pray to Almighty that his soul may rest in peace.
He will remain a great source of inspiration to his various well-wishers and admirers. He leaves behind a rich legacy that is more than ably steered forward by his accomplished and celebrated grandson Kumar Mangalam Birla, and his two enterprising daughters, Jayashree ji and Manjushree ji, both of whom are actively involved in family businesses and philanthropic activities.
(The author is chairman, Ambuja Neotia. Views are personal)