No one can forget the Ambassador Car of India, which was India's national carrier de facto for decades. Manufactured by Hindustan Motors of Calcutta, a company owned by the Birla Group of Industries, the Ambassador enjoyed near monopoly in the car market of India for about three decades. The doyen of the group was Ghanashyam Das (G.D.) Birla, (1894-2008) one of the richest industrialists of India. When the British rulers of India wished to confer the title of 'Sir' to a young industrialist from India, they found the fittest person for the honor in G.D. Birla, who was only 32 at that time. He accepted the title, but never did he attempt to please or placate them for benefits. On the other hand, he was in the forefront for the cause raised by Gandhiji and the Indian National Congress for the freedom of the motherland. In fact Birla was Gandhi's friend, advisor and admirer and an active sympathizer with the Congress Party. Where were Gandhi's last days spent? At the Birla House in Delhi
. It was there that Gandhi fell at the bullets of an assassin.
Ghanashyam Das was born in 1894, in Pilani, Rajasthan
. His father Baldev Das Birla and Grandfather Shiv Narain Birla had already established as successful industrialists. They had set up their firms in Bombay and Calcutta by that time. After taking over from them, Ghanashyam had to brave several challenges from the British and worked hard to build up a new industrial empire in India. He established and Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry in company with a couple of other industrialists, in 1927. It was in 1942, the year of Gandhi's Quit India Movement that he launched his Hindustan Motors. The ambassador that he moulded was along the model of the Morris Oxford-48.
Birla established many educational and research institutions in Pilani, his home town, and in other places. 'Bits Pilani'(Birla Institute of Technology and Science) is a famous center for high tech studies and research. And then there is the Birla Planetarium. And many others like these. India honored this great industrialist by conferring on him the Padmavibhushan, one of the highest civilian awards on him in 1957. Author of books in Hindi and English, like Rupaye ki Kahani, Bapu, Jamanlal Bajaj, Paths to Prosperity, In the Shadow of the Mahatma, G.D. Birla was the man behind the founding of the noted the newspaper Hindustan times of Delhi. He passed away in 1983.