The roots of the Aditya Birla Group date back to the 19th century in the picturesque town of Pilani, set amidst the Rajasthan desert. It was here that Seth Shiv Narayan Birla started trading in cotton, laying the foundation for the House of Birlas.
Through India's arduous times of the 1850s, the Birla business expanded rapidly. In the early part of the 20th century, our Group's founding father, Ghanshyamdas Birla, set up industries in critical sectors such as textiles and fibre, aluminium, cement and chemicals. As a close confidante of Mahatma Gandhi, he played an active role in the Indian freedom struggle. He represented India at the first and second round-table conference in London, along with Gandhiji. It was at "Birla House" in Delhi that the luminaries of the Indian freedom struggle often met to plot the downfall of the British Raj.
Ghanshyamdas Birla found no contradiction in pursuing business goals with the dedication of a saint, emerging as one of the foremost industrialists of pre-independence India. The principles by which he lived were soaked up by his grandson, Aditya Vikram Birla, our Group's legendary leader.
A formidable force in Indian industry, Mr. Aditya Birla dared to dream of setting up a global business empire at the age of 24. He was the first to put Indian business on the world map, as far back as 1969, long before globalisation became a buzzword in India.
In the then vibrant and free market South East Asian countries, he ventured to set up world-class production bases. He had foreseen the winds of change and staked the future of his business on a competitive, free market driven economy order. He put Indian business on the globe, 22 years before economic liberalisation was formally introduced by the former Prime Minister, Mr. Narasimha Rao and the former Union Finance Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh. He set up 19 companies outside India, in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Egypt.
Interestingly, for Mr. Aditya Birla, globalisation meant more than just geographic reach. He believed that a business could be global even whilst being based in India. Therefore, back in his home-territory, he drove single-mindedly to put together the building blocks to make our Indian business a global force.
Under his stewardship, his companies rose to be the world's largest producer of viscose staple fibre, the largest refiner of palm oil, the third-largest producer of insulators and the sixth-largest producer of carbon black. In India, they attained the status of the largest single producer of viscose filament yarn, apart from being a producer of cement, grey cement and rayon grade pulp. The Group is also the largest producer of aluminium in the private sector, the lowest first cost producers in the world and the only producer of linen in the textile industry in India.
At the time of his untimely demise in 1995, the Group's revenues crossed Rs.8,000 crore globally, with assets of over Rs.9,000 crore, comprising of 55 benchmark quality plants, an employee strength of 75,000 and a shareholder community of 600,000.
Most importantly, his companies earned respect and admiration of the people, as one of India's finest business houses, and the first Indian international Group globally. Through this outstanding record of enterprise, he helped create enormous wealth for the nation, and respect for Indian entrepreneurship in South East Asia. In his time, his success was unmatched by any other industrialist in India.
That India attains respectable rank among the developed nations, was a dream he forever cherished. He was proud of India and took equal pride in being an India
Dr. Pragnya RamGroup Executive President, Corporate Communications & CSRAditya Birla Management Corporation Private LimitedAditya Birla Centre, 1st Floor, 'C' WingS.K. Ahire Marg, WorliMumbai 400 030.
91-22-6652 5000 /2499 5000
Fax: 91-22-6652 5741/ 42