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Krishna Kumar Birla

Krishna Kumar Birla (11 November 1918 – 30 August 2008) was a noted Indian industrialist of the Birla family. Born at Pilani in the northwestern Indian state Rajasthan on Nov. 11, 1918, He was the eldest of the three sons of Maha Devi and Ghanshyam Das Birla, who was a staunch follower of Mohandas Gandhi and a financier of his Congress Party.[1] his birth coinciding with an epochal event: the signing of the armistice that signalled the end of the First World War. He chose to celebrate his birthday on October 12: he had born on Gopashtami and the family tended to follow the lunar calendar, which meant that the date always bounced around on the western calendar.[2]

He got a Bachelor’s degree (Honours) from Lahore University in 1939 and in 1997 was conferred the degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) by Pondicherry University. He went to work in the year 1940 to build India’s sugar industry. He quickly expanded the business, acquiring interests in textiles, engineering, shipping and fertilizers.

He joined Congress Party in 1984 as a life member. He was elected as a Rajya Sabha member in the same year, under the leadership of Indira Gandhi. He was a Member of Parliament for three terms from 1984 till 2002, served on several committees of Parliament. He was appointed twice, in 1980 and 2004, as a member of the National Integration Council chaired by the prime minister.[3]

Birla was one of the industrialists who supported economic reforms in India in 1991.[4] He was the chancellor of BITS Pilani from 1983 until his death in 2008. The Goa Campus Of BITS, Pilani was renamed BITS, Pilani K.K Birla Goa Campus in his remembrance.

Dr. Birla was a Hindi Prabhakar (Honours in Hindi) and in 1997 was conferred the degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) by Pondicherry University. In 1991, Birla established the K.K. Birla Foundation to promote Hindi literature.

He was the chairman of one of India’s biggest national daily newspapers, The Hindustan Times,He was on the central board of the State Bank of India and ICICI. He headed Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FICCI), Indian Sugar Mills Association and many Sports Federations.

Birla was the group chairman of the Zuari-Chambal group of companies with a turnover of over Rs.10,000 crores. He was also the Chairman of Zuari-Chambal-Paradeep, India's largest fertilizer combine in private sector.

He died on Aug. 30 at his home in Calcutta. He was 89.The cause was age-related ailments and pneumonia. He was grief-stricken by the death on 29 July of his wife of 67 years, Manorama Devi.[5][6]

He is survived by his daughters Nandini Nopany, Jyoti Poddar and Shobhana Bhartia, who is the vice chairwoman and editorial director of The Hindustan Times, and several grandchildren[7]

He liked reading, music and playing bridge. He was president of the Bridge Federation of India for a number of years and also headed the Indian Lawn Tennis Association.[8]


  • After the demise of Birla, his son-in-law Saroj Kumar Poddar took over as the chairman of Zuari-Chambal-Paradeep fertilizer combines.
  • The textiles and sugar business is now headed by Nandini Nopany, eldest daughter of Birla and Chandra Shekhar Nopany, grandson of Birla.
  • Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman-Aditya Birla Group and grand nephew of Birla, took over as the Chancellor of BITS Pilani.
  • K. K. Birla Lane in New Delhi is named for him.

See also


  1. ^ "K K birla a leader of Indian Business". Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  2. ^ "Family came first to KK Birla". 2008-08-31. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "Krishna Kumar Birla". Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  4. ^ K.K. Birla was among the few who supported reforms in 1991: PM; The Hindu, 13 December 2007
  5. ^ Noted industrialist K K Birla dies at 90; Zee News, 31 August 2008
  6. ^ Fact file: Dr KK Birla; Hindustan Times, 30 August 2008
  7. ^ "K K Birla Indian Leader". NY Times. 02-09-2008. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  8. ^ "Family came first". Telegraph India. 31-08-08. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 

Hindu College, University of Delhi

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