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Shri Ghanshyam Das Birla

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Shri Ghanshyam Das Birla
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Shri Ghanshyam Das Birla

Shri Ghanshyam Das "GD" Birla (April 10,1894 - January 11,1983) was a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi. He advised Gandhi on economic policies.

Birla's grandfather Shiv Narayan Birla wanted to diversify from the traditional marwari business of lending money against pawned items. He left Pilani, his hometown in Rajasthan with a modest capital to Bombay to establish a business in cotton dealership. The venture was successful and he came back to Pilani to build a huge mansion (or Haveli), which still stands by the name Birla Haveli.

Ghanshyam wanted to diversify his father's business, which he inherited to jute. So he left for Calcutta city in Bengal, the world's largest jute producing region. There he established a jute firm, much to the consternation of established European merchants, whom the biased policies of the British government favoured. He had to scale a number of obstacles. The British and Scottish merchants tried to shut his business out by unethical and monopolistic methods. He was able to persevere in the face of all such difficulties. Ganshyam's business sky-rocketed with the World War-I and there was no looking back for him.

Envisioning infrastructural development in his hometown, Ghanshyam founded the Birla Engineering College in Pilani among other educational institutions. The college has evolved over the years to develop into one of India's best engineering schools, BITS Pilani. Today, Pilani also houses a wing of Central Electrical and Electronics Research Institute (CEERI), a famous residential, public school christened 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 Ghanshyam's dream.

Ghanshyam's family business has diversified into many areas. At least three contemporary family business groups in India trace their ancestry to Ghanshyam.

There is a memorial to Ghanshyam Birla in Golders Green Crematorium, Hoop Lane, London. It comprises of a large statue overlooking the gardens with the following inscription. Please see http://www.yarzheit.com/Ghanshyam%20Das%20Birla.htm for full photos of Golders Green cemetery and the Statue of Ghanshyam Das Birla.sv:G.D. Birla

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