Aditya Birla billionaire rallies Indian companies

Warning of national apathy and scepticism in the business community, Kumar Mangalam Birla (pictured), sixth-generation chairman of the $24 billion Aditya Birla Group, has urged Indian companies to reach beyond the subcontinent and make acquisitions abroad.

As a recent guest editor of India's Economic Times newspaper, Birla highlighted the potential of his homeland to outsiders and inspired his fellow countrymen to diversify their business interests, both in terms of geography and sector. "There are so many opportunities, sticking to one business would be restrictive," he said.

"It's we, those who live in this great nation, who are perpetually sceptical about its [India's] future. So was I, until a few years ago," he wrote.

"However, as the Aditya Birla Group has globalised dramatically in the last seven years, my view on this has changed. To our great advantage, we are endowed with natural resources, have been recognised as an intellectual hub of the world, and are fast becoming one of the most important manufacturing centres globally."

In a bid to rally the country's business community, Birla said that India's future greatly depended on the "quality of its imagination" of what it can achieve in the next few years. He decried the nation's scepticism, believing that it must give way to enthusiastic participation in the process of nation building.

He said: "If nothing else, we can ensure that we impart to our children a sense of pride about the future of the country. Because patriotic fervour can work like nothing else can."