Group's global character, rooted in my father's entrepreneurial drive'', says Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla
A special function to present the Commemorative Stamp on the visionary Mr. Aditya Vikram Birla, honouring him as “India’s first global industrialist”, was held in Mumbai at the Raj Bhavan, graced by the Governor of Maharashtra, Mr. Shankaranarayanan and several other dignitaries.
Released earlier in the week, by the Honourable President of India, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee in Delhi, this Commemorative Stamp is a unique recognition of the late Mr. Aditya Vikram Birla’s endeavours to pioneer the globalisation of India. A torchbearer, he took the first steps forward in placing India on the map of South East Asia, long before globalisation featured in the corporate lexicon.
Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group avers, “As a freshly-minted graduate from the MIT, my father felt strapped down by the tyranny of the license Raj. He looked overseas and set his eyes upon South East Asia, where he built a substantial business enterprise over the next two decades. And in doing so, he brought immense respect and credibility to Indian industry. Even today, the Aditya Birla Group’s global character has its roots in his entrepreneurial drive beyond Indian borders, way before its time. It has given the Group the conviction and confidence to successfully run businesses across the globe. And in a world that is shrinking by the day, thanks to technology, this has been a source of great competitive advantage for us. Today, we operate in 36 countries across six continents with a little over a half of our turnover coming from our overseas operations. This truly is the outcome of his vision and exceptional clairvoyance.”
Said Mrs. Rajashree Birla, “There was a soft side to him, beyond business. He dabbled in paints. He loved to sing. He was the patron of the arts. He was also a pilot. His personality matched his versatility. Even though he was a tough taskmaster, he was an extremely warm and caring human being. He always thought beyond himself. He practiced inclusive growth, the day he entered the world of business. He was of the view that at the end of the day the success of a business was not just the bottom-line in terms of net profit, but also in how much difference the organisation made, how much happiness it created beyond the frontiers of business.”
Thanking the Governor, the Ministry of Communication & IT and the Department of Post, Mr. Birla added, “To us, this stamp is a fitting testament to Shri Aditya Vikram Birla’s innumerable contributions to his country. As a proud Indian who was passionate about contributing to the process of nation building. As an industry leader who was a pioneer in taking Indian industry to the world. As a capitalist who endorsed and practiced responsible corporate citizenship. And as a radical thinker whose views and ideas are as relevant today in the 21st century as they were two decades ago in the 20th.”
A little aside. Mr. Birla revealed that his father was a budding philatelist, whose favourite stamp had always been the third-ever stamp issued by independent India in 1947 – a 12-anna stamp depicting a Douglas DC-4 aircraft, meant for foreign airmail. He said it was one of the things that helped the late Mr. Aditya Birla imagine taking his business overseas. “Who would’ve known then that one day, he would do exactly that! Except that he didn’t literally do it on a DC-4!,” remarked Mr. Birla.