Paying tributes to the memory of KK Birla, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Friday released a commemorative stamp on the eminent industrialist-philanthrophist hailing him as one of the pillars of the Indian industry.
Birla, who also served as a member of Rajya Sabha, was hailed by Gandhi as a leading member of the group of titans who fought for the freedom of the country.
In a fitting honour, the stamp and a first day cover was released at a function at the Gandhi Smriti in New Delhi attended by admirers, colleagues and family friends.
The function was presided over by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee while Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Jyotiraditya Scindia was the guest of honour. Birla’s brother BK Birla was also among those present.
Gandhi recalled that Birla had stood by Indira Gandhi even after she lost the elections in 1977.
“His loyalty never wavered and he stood by her throughout,” she said.
Mukherjee remembered his four-decade long association with Birla, whom he remembered as a distinguished parliamentarian, prominent educationist, institution builder and a man of letters who worked tirelessly in very many diverse areas.
Son of Ghanshyam Das Birla, KK Birla was a industry doyen who had an industrial empire spawning fertilizers, chemicals, heavy engineering, textiles and sugar.
He was the chairman of a number of Birla companies, including Chambal Fertilizers, Zuari Industries, Texmaco, Oudh Sugar and Hindustan Times.
Birla was also the Chancellor of the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani, an educational institution whose standards have often been compared with that of the IITs.
He founded the KK Birla Foundation, which gives awards for excellence in arts, philosophy, literature, scientific research and sports.
Birla’s literary achievements are many including the autobiographical Brushes with History. Books penned by him include Indira Gandhi: Reminiscences and Partners in Progress - Collection of Selected Speeches and Writings.
KK Birla passed away on August 31 last year.