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Birla & Iacocca: Two lives, two systems

Lee Lacocca and Basant Kumar Birla presented an interesting study in contrasts of the economic systems in which they operated

Kanika Datta

Two icons of the business world died within a day of each other last week: Lee Iacocca at age 94 on July 2 and Basant Kumar Birla at 98 on July 3. The dutifully respectful obituaries that followed on both offer an interesting study in contrasts not just of their personalities but of the economic systems they represented.   Birla, scion of a storied entrepreneurial family, embodied the Indian business tradition; Iacocca, maverick representative of professional C-suite talent, the Great American Dream.   Birla was the epitome of the Indian entrepreneur who built a vast empire on ...