On February 12th, 2022, India lost one of its great industrialists and a philanthropist, Mr Rahul Bajaj. His group today has interests across automobiles, finance, consumer goods, and power transmission.
About the Bajaj Group
Rahul Bajaj joined the Bajaj group in 1965 and became the CEO of Bajaj Auto in 1968. One of the oldest business groups in India, the group has 25 companies—including Bajaj Auto, Bajaj Finance, Bajaj Finserv, Bajaj Electricals, Mukand, and Bajaj Allianz—with around 36,000 employees.
Two of them, Bajaj Finserv and Bajaj Auto, made a revolution in middle-class families during the 1970s. Bajaj Finserv, and Bajaj Finance, started the revolution in the loan approval era. It made the process of taking a loan a lot easier than banks. Also, it became common for people to approve loans for TVs, washing machines, and even hair dryers. Middle-class families could then live with ease.
On the other hand, Bajaj Auto provided freedom of mobility and speed in the mid-seventies to the middle-class Indian with the Chetak scooter. Bajaj later had to compete with new players, which included the Hero Group which entered into a joint venture with Japanese giant Honda, TVS with Suzuki, and the Escorts-Yamaha combination. Unlike the Indian carmakers, Bajaj went from strength to strength. If profitability and market capitalization are used to measure his peers, Bajaj companies have done far better.
Born on June 10, 1938, in Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India. Rahul Bajaj held a Bachelor degree in economics, a law degree from Mumbai University, and an MBA from Harvard. His grandfather, Jamnalal Bajaj, who was close to Mahatma Gandhi, was treated as his fifth son. His father, Kamalnayan, was a Congress party member who later fell out with Indira Gandhi. During the independence struggle, like the Birlas, the Bajaj family too had political connections, with senior politicians paying visits to their family home.
Bajaj was elected to the Rajya Sabha, India’s Upper House of Parliament, filling the seat vacated by the death of Pramod Mahajan for the 2006–2010 period.
Last year, he resigned as the chairman of Bajaj Auto, citing his age, and took on the title of chairman emeritus, leaving his cousin Niraj at the head of the company’s board. Mr. Bajaj has always had a life of rapidity. In public gatherings, he always appeared at ease with businessmen, including Uday Kotak and Sanjiv Munjal.
He is the only person ever to be president of the Confederation of Indian Industry (Cll) twice in 1979–1980 and 1999–2000. For his outstanding work for the Indian industry, the then President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, presented him with the CII President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2017. He has been CII most generous and engaged past president.
“Rahul Bajaj died on 12th February at 2.30 pm. He died due to heart and lung problems. He was admitted for the past one month in Ruby Hall hospital in Pune,” Dr Parvej Grant, chairman of Ruby Hall hospital said.
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said, “My heartfelt tributes to Rahul Bajaj Ji, a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist, and former chairman of Bajaj. I had a personal relationship with Padma Bhushan awardee, Rahul Ji for many years. Rahul, who has led the Bajaj Group for the last five decades, has been instrumental in the industry. May God rest the departed soul and give strength to the family members. Om Shanti.”