History was never a favourite subject with me in school. I never understood why it was necessary to know the past. While I prepared for this essay, I stumbled on to a story, as rich and thrilling as India’s story of Independence.
The Aditya Birla Group (ABG) has its foundations in the beautiful desert town Pilani. Seth Shiv Narayan Birla started trading in cotton, laying the foundation for the House of Birla sometime in 1857, when India was raging and seething in its very first mutiny during the British Raj. Even before that S.N. Birla’s grandfather was a moneylender during WW1.
ABG’s role in India’s economic history is intertwined with India’s quest for political freedom.
The ABG’s founder Mr Ghanashyam Das Birla, grandson of S.N. Birla,set up industries in the areas of textiles, fibre, jute, aluminium, cement. G.D Birla was an ally, supporter and close confidante of Mahatma Gandhi. He had an active and important role to play in the struggle for freedom of India. He accompanied Mahatma Gandhi at the first and second round-table conferences in London, along with Gandhiji. The veterans of the Indian Freedom struggle often met at Birla House, Delhi to strategize and plan the downfall of the British Raj. Grasim Industries, the front runner of the AB Group, was formed on 25th August 1947 with Independent India just 10 days old. Gandhiji was assassinated in the Birla House.
Mr. Ghanshyam Das Birla was one of the most important people in pre-independence India. The Group's legendary leader Aditya Vikram Birla took over the baton and retained the legacy.
Mr. Aditya Birla aspired to set up global business empire at the tender age of 24. He broke records by being the first to place Indian Businesses on the world map as early as 1969.At that time, the word ‘globalization’ did exist in the economic dictionary.
He first set up world-class production bases in the free and happening markets of South East Asia. All this was 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 established 19 companies outside India, in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Egypt.
Under him, his companies rose to be the world's largest producer of viscose staple fibre, the largest refiner of palm oil, the 3rd largest producer of insulators and the 6th -largest producer of carbon black
The Aditya Birla 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.
While researching on the Aditya Birla Group, history has suddenly become a personal sojourn for me, so much more personal connect, so much relevance to the present.
If you stay in India, it is close to impossible that you have not used a product which Aditya Birla group has not contributed to.
The Aditya Birla Group is currently one of the most premier conglomerates in India which started with manufacturing jute and then grew into a leading multi-product corporation covering various business sectors. Aditya Birla group is involved in various kinds of businesses from textiles, fashion, cement, cellular network and as the world’s largest aluminium rolling company.
UltraTech cement is one of the most reputed cement brands in India. It is being used in various housing projects, UltraTech Building Solutions have a tie up with various other companies such as Berger Paints, Dr. Fixit, Tata Wiron etc, which help them provide an end to end solution for housing projects. If you have been to Mumbai recently, you should have seen the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, the cement required to build this bridge was provided by UltraTech.
Aditya Birla Group owns a company called Hindalco Industries Ltd., and it is the world’s largest aluminium rolling company and they are also the leading producer of copper.
Many of the households, hotels and restaurants around the world use aluminium foil to wrap our food, one of the most used aluminium foil Freshwrapp and Superwrapp which are brands belonging to Hindalco.
Another major company which is now partially owned by the Aditya Birla Group is India’s largest telecom operator Vodafone Idea Limited. It is the leading telecom service provider in India and second largest globally. India being a vast country Vodafone Idea Ltd. has helped various people connect to each other.
I shut my laptop for a while and got up for dinner in the hostel mess.I miss home and dinner together as a family and my thoughts drift to an article I read of the Indian family values of the Birlas where they had meals together..
Talks at dinner-time always drift from topics of college days to travel and then to food and fashion.
My parents graduated from Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra. My best friends studied in BITS Pilani. My Uncle heads Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail Ltd.
My wallet sports membership cards of Pantaloons. Most of my father’s shirts have the tags of Louis Philippe, Allen Solly, Van Heusen, Peter England. My mother shops for my sister’s clothes in People as she said they are trendy, well-designed and inexpensive. We invest in Aditya Birla Mutual Funds. My mobile phone sim card is of Vodaphone. Picnic and train journeys with food wrapped in FreshWrapp.
Now as an MBA-HR student, I am awed by the CSR activities of the ABG. The numbers buzz around my head- 5000 villages- cleft palate surgeries, cochlear implants, artificial limbs, cataract surgeries, AIDS awareness campaigns,22000 Toilets in 50 villages in J & K; e-learning hubs across India, support to 40 KGBV schools, coaching for underprivileged students, sustainable livelihood programs, 1000 biogas plants across India, 300 model villages. It gives me dreams of my own, now. If the maestro of textiles, Aluminium, foil, cement and fashion has permeated my family so deeply, it must be the epitome of integrity and trust.