K K Birla, a man of many facets


Noted industrialist Krishna Kant Birla passed away on Saturday morning at his residence after a brief illness. He was 90.

Here is how politicians remember the man who spent 18 years as a Member of Parliament.

K K Birla was a man of many facets. He was an industrialist, former Parliamentarian, a philanthropist and a scholar.

Born in Pilani, Rajasthan, Birla was among the founder members of the Indian sugar industry. However, he ventured into industries like fertilisers, chemicals, heavy engineering, textiles, shipping and newspaper as well.

He joined the Congress party in 1984 and was elected to the upper house the same year. He remained a Rajya Sabha member for 18 years.

“It is very unfortunate that K K Birla is no more. He was an illustrious son of India. He did lots for the industry, social work and education and helped the government in every crisis,” said Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Birla was an entrepreneur with a social vision.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj, Birla’s former colleague in Rajya Sabha, recalls how Birla was a man with a personal touch.

“I recall how he would always hold my hand and ask me for coffee in the central hall. And in the onset of summer he would never forget to send me a bottle of sandalwood oil and bottles of homemade thandai with a personal note,” said Sushma.

He founded the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, which is today a top-notch educational institution. The K K Birla Foundation that he set up conducts research in subjects related to science, history and culture.

Birla, who was the chairman of Hindustan Times, is survived by three daughters, Nandini Nupani, Jyotsna Poddar and Shobhana Bhartia, who is also vice-chairperson and editorial adviser of Hindustan Times.

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