In a poignant piece titled “Butter Chicken at Birla,” Kumar Mangalam Birla, the chairman of the Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla Group, writes about how inheriting the leadership mantle at the young age of 29, after the demise of his father, had initially meant continuing with the tradition of closely held values of a Marwari family (Birla, 2013, p. 338). Taking up the reins of business as the eldest son came as a natural progression, and so did continuing with the family traditions that had long since supplied the basis for the culture at the workplace. Birla cafeterias for instance, followed the family rules of never serving meat or alcohol, and the majority of senior managerial positions in the company were always filled from the Marwari community. Things changed, however, when the group bought a small copper mine in Australia. The new employees coming within the fold of the company were worried about functioning under an Indian ownership—were they expected to give up on meat as well? No sooner had the management allayed such apprehensions, than the Indian managers began to ask why they should to go meatless at parties if employees abroad did not. Kumar Mangalam recalls, “my lieutenants were relentless: I had never faced a situation where my own people felt so strongly about something. Yet at the same time I knew vegetarianism was a part of our values as a family and as a company.
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