Several huge ads featured on March 8 in almost all dailies including the pink papers in remembrance of the late Aditya Vikram Birla (1943-95), proclaimed the judges, juries and awardees of the 22nd Aditya Birla Scholarship Programme.
In the early years of the new millennium, this struggling publication was on the favoured list of Industry House, Mumbai and enjoyed the grace and benediction flowing from these annual ads. However in recent years despite EW having consolidated its position as the country’s premier education news magazine, this annual benediction has been withdrawn. This notwithstanding AVB’s son and heir, Kumaramangalam Birla, being the recipient of a complimentary copy of this sui generis magazine for years.
This omission is the unkindest cut because in a previous avatar as editor of Businessworld, your diarist highlighted the business legerdemain of the late AVB in several unprecedented cover features, and was the first journo to interview and write a rehabilitative cover feature on the much maligned G.D. Birla (1894-1983), who established the Birla empire, the usufruct of which K’Mangalam enjoys to the full. In this connection, it’s also pertinent to note that in the heyday of India’s neta-babu socialism, Birla-Tata and businessmen in general, were national hate figures reviled from every public platform. Until your correspondent as founding-editor of Business India and Businessworld informed the gullible public that they were actually heroes who despite every official discouragement built the industrial base of the nation.
Although few will give them credit, these pioneer business publications prepared the ground for the historic liberalisation and deregulation of the economy in 1991 from which Industry House and its ingrate presiding incumbent have benefited mightily. Hence the heartburn.