BABUJI, as he was known among friends, was a believer in hard work and a frugal way of life

Industrialist Basant Kumar Birla, the patriarch of the Birla family, passed away in Mumbai on Wednesday. He was 98. In March this year, Rajashree Birla, mother of Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, replaced Basant Kumar as chairman of Pilani Investment, the holding company for Century Textile and Kesoram, as part of succession planning for the businesses owned by the ailing patriarch. Pilani owns 33% of Century and 19% of Kesoram. Century had demerged its cement business (13.4 MTPA cement plant and 8.5 mtpa clinker plant) in favour of Kumar Mangalam-controlled UltraTech in 2018. After the demerger, Century is left with paper and pulp, real estate, textiles and chemical businesses. Some might not be considered core by the AB group, controlled by BK Birla’s grandson Kumar Mangalam Birla.

Basant Kumar Birla, known in his close circle of friends and among peers as “babuji,” was the youngest son of Ghanshyam Das, the father of the late Aditya Vikram Birla. He was ailing for a few years. I believed in hard work and rigorous application and picked up the workings of each department by actually attending to every nitty-gritty detail,” Basant Kumar Birla had said in one of his interactions to press. To many who know him personally over the decades, he is known as a disciplinarian and a stickler to time.