Industrialist Rahul Bajaj passes away at 83

The last rites will be held on Sunday. Bajaj is survived by two sons, Rajiv Bajaj and Sanjiv Bajaj; and daughter Sunaina Kejriwal.
Bajaj Group chairman Rahul Bajaj (File | PTI)
Bajaj Group chairman Rahul Bajaj (File | PTI)

MUMBAI: Former chairman of the Bajaj Group Rahul Bajaj died in Pune on Saturday, a company official said. He was 83.

Bajaj had been admitted to the Ruby Hall Clinic hospital in Pune. He died around 2.30 pm, the official said.

The last rites will be held on Sunday. Bajaj is survived by two sons, Rajiv Bajaj and Sanjiv Bajaj; and daughter Sunaina Kejriwal.

He resigned from his position of non-executive director and chairman at Bajaj Auto on April 30 last year.

Dr Parvez Grant, chief cardiologist and managing trustee of Ruby Hall Clinic, said he was admitted to the hospital for the last month. "He died due to age-related and heart- and lung-related ailments," Grant added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he was pained by Rahul Bajaj's passing, noting that the late industrialist will be "remembered for his noteworthy contributions to the world of commerce and industry. Beyond business, he was passionate about community service and was a great conversationalist"..

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted that "Rahul Bajaj’s passing is a big loss to India. We have lost a visionary whose courage made us proud. My love and condolences to his family and loved ones."

NCP chief Sharad Pawar remembered the former chairman of the Bajaj Group as a philanthropist who was like a "lighthouse" for young entrepreneurs.

"I am deeply shocked to learn about the sad demise of Padma Bhushan Shri Rahul Bajaj! The grandson of eminent freedom fighter Jamnalal Bajaj brought transformation in society especially in poor and middle-class people with his two-wheel technology - a Bajaj Bike!," Pawar tweeted.

Pawar said he was grieved by the passing away of his very close friend. "India has lost an industrialist, a philanthropist and a lighthouse for young entrepreneurs! Hamara Bajaj," Pawar said.

Under Rahul Bajaj's stewardship, flagship firm Bajaj Auto saw its turnover growing to Rs 12,000 crore from just Rs 7.2 crore with the firm's scooters becoming the mainstay.

The company's Bajaj Chetak scooter became an aspirational symbol for the middle-class Indian families then, with the Humara Bajaj tune becoming synonymous with their hopes of a better future.

In 2005, he began passing the baton of the company to son Rajiv Bajaj, who became the managing director of Bajaj Auto and led the company to become a truly global automobile player.

One of the most successful business leaders of India, Bajaj was elected to Rajya Sabha in June 2006 and remained a member till 2010.

Known for his outspokenness, in November 2019, at an event organised by a leading business newspaper in Mumbai where Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal were present, the veteran industrialist spoke about the government's 'stifling of criticism', among other things.

"This environment of fear, it's definitely on our minds. “You (the government) are doing good work; and despite that, we don't have the confidence that you'll appreciate criticism," he had said.

Bajaj was a recipient of many awards, including the Padma Bhushan and honorary doctorates from many universities.

He also held many other positions, including the chairman of Indian Airlines and chairman of the board of governors of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.

He was also a former chairman of the International Business Council, World Economic Forum and a former member of the South Asia advisory board of Harvard Business School.

Besides, he was a former member of the International Advisory Council of the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.


The industrialist also spearheaded the CSR activities of the Bajaj Group of companies and charitable trusts including Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation.

He had done BA (Honours) in Economics from Delhi University, a law degree from Mumbai University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Other tributes

Among other prominent industrialists paying their tributes was Biocon Executive Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw. She tweeted: "Industrialist Rahul Bajaj, Former Chairman Of Bajaj Group, Dies At 83 - I am devastated - he was a dear dear friend and will miss him dearly. The country has lost a great son & nation builder."

TVS Motor Company Chairman Venu Srinivasan stated that Bajaj strode across the Indian industrial landscape like a colossus.

"He was among the few stars who created the Indian automotive industry. He was a pioneer who established a culture of quality and technology. He stood for high integrity in business and stuck to his principles. Rahul played a key role in industry bodies around the world like World Economic Forum and CII and was very well respected. He will be sorely missed," he stated.

Expressing similar feelings, Raymond Chairman and Managing Director Gautam Hari Singhania stated that the passing away of Rahul Bajaj is a terrible loss to the corporate world.

"The doyen of the Indian business world will be missed for his intellectual honesty and straightforwardness. His contribution to the auto industry and steering the group during the license raj days will always be remembered. In immeasurable manner he has contributed to the growth of Maharashtra and the country. On behalf of the Raymond Group I offer my sincere condolences to the Bajaj family," he said in a statement.

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