Aditya Vikram Birla, grandson of the legendary G.D. Birla, was one of India's
most outstanding industrialists. His innovative ideas and ability to bring them
to fruition have left an indelible mark on the corporate landscape.
At the height of the Licence Raj, he set up a joint venture in Thailand, which
grew within a quarter-century to become the largest multinational empire set up
by a resident Indian industrialist. At the time of his untimely death (at 51),
he headed an enterprise with a global turnover of Rs.15,000 crore, cutting
across a swathe of businesses -- viscose staple fibre, cement and carbon black,
to name just a few. Creating India's first truly global corporation.
But, there was more to him, beyond business. While carrying forward his
grandfather's legacy of caring for communities, he introduced the concept of
"sustainable livelihood". He believed that corporate social responsibility must
transcend cheque book philanthropy. He would say, "Give a hungry man fish and
he will eat it, and the next day, he will be hungry again. Instead, if you
teach him to fish, he will be able to feed himself and his family for a
Aditya Vikram Birla epitomised excellence: in business and as a human being.