"K. K. Birla, the patriarch of a renowned Indian industrial empire,
died on Aug. 30 at his home in Calcutta. He was 89.
The cause was age-related ailments and pneumonia, his family said. His
close associates said he was grief-stricken by the death on July 29 of
his wife of 67 years, Manorama Devi.
Mr. Birla built on the company started by his father to establish one
of India's biggest business conglomerates, with interests in
industries like sugar, fertilizers, chemicals, heavy engineering,
textile, shipping and media, among many others.
He was the chairman of one of India's biggest national daily
newspapers, The Hindustan Times, which became a successful media
company under his stewardship.
As a leading figure in both the humanities and technology in India, he
established the K. K. Birla Foundation, which gives awards in many
fields and focuses not on the English-speaking middle class of urban
India, but on the achievements of its rural population.
The K. K. Birla Academy does scientific, historical and cultural
research and has been planning a scientific museum. He was the
chancellor of Birla Institute of Technology and Science, created by
his father in the desert of Rajasthan, expanding it from Goa and
Hyderabad to Dubai.
He was also a prominent three-term member of the upper house of the
Indian Parliament and was close to Indian political leaders like
Indira Gandhi, Rajeev Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. Loyal
to the Congress Party, which his father helped finance, he had friends
across the political spectrum."
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