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Basant Kumar Birla

Basant Kumar Birla

Chairman, Birla Group
AGE: 87

The highly spiritual Basant Kumar Birla, patriarch of the Birla Group of companies, with interests ranging from cement and textiles to education and commodities, still maintains his 9-to-5 office routine. His father, G.D. Birla, was an industrialist and friend of Mahatma Gandhi. Although many of the businesses are run by the younger generation, the octogenarian is still very much in control of several companies, which he runs from his hometown of Kolkata. Two years ago, Birla officially willed his businesses to his two daughters, Jayashree and Manjushree, and the largest chunk to grandson Kumar Mangalam Birla. B.K. Birla still pursues his passion for music, playing the harmonium (an Indian keyboard instrument) and singing with his wife Sarla Devi every evening in his majestic Birla mansion.