Rahul Bajaj: Fearless visionary who spoke truth to power irrespective of party

Known for speaking the truth to the power, Bajaj, who was the former chairman of Bajaj Auto, commanded respect for his business acumen and fearlessness.

Published: 13th February 2022 09:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th February 2022 09:01 AM   |  A+A-

Bajaj Group chairman Rahul Bajaj

Bajaj Group chairman late Rahul Bajaj (File | PTI)

NEW DELHI: As the doyen of India’s auto industry, Rahul Bajaj breathed his last on Saturday afternoon at the age of 83, people across the political spectrum, corporate world and other walks of life mourned the cracking of the ‘spine’ of Indian business.

Known for speaking the truth to the power, Bajaj, who was the former chairman of Bajaj Auto, commanded respect for his business acumen and fearlessness. The man who called himself born anti-establishment, had his fair share of brush with the might of the ruling class, irrespective of who or which party was in power.

Born in Kolkata, Bajaj’s entrepreneurship journey is as old as it gets. An alumnus of Harvard Business School, he took over as the Chief Executive Officer of Bajaj Auto in 1968 and was appointed Managing Director in 1972.

It was under his leadership that Bajaj’s scooters archived a stardom like no other product in India. In the 1970s and 1980s, the company’s Bajaj Chetak scooter became an aspirational symbol for the middle-class Indian families, with the ‘Humara Bajaj’ tune becoming synonymous with their hopes of a better future.

Bajaj Auto, under him, saw its turnover grow to Rs 12,000 crore from Rs 7.2 crore with scooters becoming the mainstay. He steered Bajaj Group’s other businesses such as general and life insurance, investment and consumer finance, home appliances, electric lamps, wind energy, special alloy and stainless steel and material handling equipmentl. 

Kushagra N Bajaj, chairman of Bajaj Group and also Rahul Bajaj’s nephew, says “He always spoke his mind with candour. That added aura to his personality. The business world will miss this rare quality.”

Harsh Goenka, the chairman of RPG Group, said, “The spine of Indian business cracks. A close family friend, he was a visionary, straight talking and very respected for his value systems.” Uday Kotak, MD of Kotak Mahindra Bank, described Bajaj as bold and fearless. “A rare businessman who spoke truth to power. A proud Indian. Built world class enterprise,” said Kotak.


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