Aditya Vikram Birla (14 November 1943 – 1 October 1995), was an Indian industrialist. Born into one of the largest business families of India, he oversaw the diversification of his group into textiles, petrochemicals and telecommunications. He was one of the first Indian industrialists to expand abroad, setting up plants in South east Asia, the Philippines and Egypt. His death at the age of 52 left his young son Kumar Mangalam Birla in charge of his group of companies
Birla was born on 14 November 1943 in Kolkata to industrialist Basant Kumar and Sarala Birla. His grandfather Ghanshyam Das Birla was an associate of Mahatma Gandhi and had built his fortune on aluminium prospecting and as the manufacturer of the Ambassador car.
After attending St. Xavier's College in Kolkata, he earned a degree in chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was married to Rajashri and had a daughter Vasavadatta and a son Kumar Mangalam, who now heads the Aditya Birla Group.
After returning to India in 1965, Birla struck out on his own in textiles. His Eastern Spinning Mills in Kolkata quickly became a success, putting the group's sinking rayon and textile business back on track. He was then placed in charge of the corporation's expansion into the oil sector.
In 1969, Birla set up Indo-Thai Synthetics Company Ltd, the group's first overseas company. In 1973, he established P.T. Elegant Textiles to manufacture spun yarn. It marked the group's first venture in Indonesia. In 1974 Thai Rayon, the Group's Viscose Rayon Staple Fibre business was incorporated in Thailand. In 1975 The Indo Phil Group of companies, the first Indo-Filipino joint venture commenced production of spun yarn. In 1977 Pan Century Edible Oils was incorporated in Malaysia, going on to become the world's largest single-location palm oil refinery. In 1978 Thai Carbon Black, was incorporated in Thailand. In 1982 P.T Indo Bharat Rayon was established, the first producer of Viscose Staple Fibre in Indonesia. All these ventures not only put the Birla group on the world map as the companies became the largest producer of Viscose staple fibre and refiner of palm oil.
Ghanshyam Das Birla died in 1983, bequeathing most of his companies to his grandson Aditya. With Aditya Vikram Birla as the chairman, the Birla group of companies success expanded Hindustan Gas and rescued Indo-Gulf Fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd.
In 1993, Birla was supposedly diagnosed with prostate cancer. His wife and son took on many of the responsibilities of the group ) He was admitted to the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for treatment for prostate cancer, and died on 1 October 1995.
Former Indian Prime Minister (then Finance Minister) Manmohan Singh called Mr. Birla "among the best and brightest citizens of India."
His Group instituted the Aditya Birla Scholarships in his memory. Every year more than 40 scholars from among six Indian Institutes of Management, seven Indian Institutes of Technology, Birla Institute of Technology and Science and Faculty of Management Studies (Delhi) receive this scholarship. From the 2012–13-year onwards, this scholarship was extended to 4 law campuses as well.
Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital in Pimpri-Chinchwad has been named after him.
The Aditya Vikram Birla Kalashikhar and Kalakiran Puraskar awards for excellence in theatre and performing arts are given every year, were instituted in 1996 by the Sangeet Kala Kendra (SKK), which was founded in 1973 by Aditya Vikram Birla to encourage performing arts. A special commemorative stamp has been released by government of India in the name of Aditya Vikram Birla on 14 January 2013, honouring him as "India's first global industrialist".Aditya Vikram Birla, a biography by Minhaz Merchant.