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Ghanshyam Das BirlaShri Ghanshyam Das "G.D." Birla (April 10, 1894 - January 11, 1983) was an Indian businessman and member of the influential Birla Family. Birla's grandfather Shiv Narayana Birla wanted to diversify from the traditional marwari business of lending money against pawned items. He left Pilani, his hometown in Rajasthan with a modest capital to Bombay to establish a business in cotton dealership. The venture was successful and he came back to Pilani to build a huge mansion (or Haveli), which still stands by the name Birla Haveli.
Birla inherited the family business and moved to further diversify them into other areas. Of these, at least three contemporary family business groups existing in India today can trace their ancestry to Ghanshyam. Of these businesses, he wanted to turn the pawned items business into manufacturing. So he left for Calcutta in Bengal, the world's largest jute producing region. There he established a jute firm, much to the consternation of established European merchants, whom the biased policies of the British government favoured. He had to scale a number of obstacles as the British and Scottish merchants tried to shut his business out by unethical and monopolistic methods. He was able to persevere, when World War I resulted in supply problems throughout the British Empire, Birla's business sky-rocketed.
<>br>Envisioning infrastructural development in his hometown, Birla founded the Birla Engineering College in Pilani among other educational institutions. The college has evolved over the years to develop into one of India's best engineering schools, BITS Pilani. Today, Pilani also houses a wing of Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute (CEERI), a famous residential, public school christened after Birla's family and a number of polytechnic colleges. The town of Pilani and the local population enjoy a highly symbiotic relationship with these institutions, thereby stepping towards realizing G.D.'s dream.
In 1957, he was awarded India's second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India. Birla was known to be a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi.
There is a memorial to Ghanshyam Birla in Golders Green Crematorium, Hoop Lane, London. It comprises a large statue overlooking the gardens with an inscription.
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