End of an era: Noted industrialist Rahul Bajaj passes away at 83

End of an era: Noted industrialist Rahul Bajaj passes away at 83


Rahul Bajaj, the patriarch and a veteran industrialist, passed away in Pune at 2:30 pm. Bajaj, 83, wasn’t keeping well. His last rites will be performed in Pune on Sunday, according to the Bajaj Group’s communication team.

Known for his plain speak and a harsh critique of the government’s policies since the pre-liberalisation era, the Padma Bhushan awardee was a Harvard Business School alumnus. He was known in corporate circles as the man who does not mince words when it came to any matter of national interest, or echoing corporate India’s woes.

Condolences poured in on Twitter from various quarters over the noted industrialist’s death. Former Union Minister, Jairam Ramesh wrote on Twitter: “I have many fond memories of spread over 40 years of friendship. He laid the foundations for the success of Bajaj Auto. He was fearless. One of the few businessmen who spoke out against the 2002 communal riots, and against the climate of fear and intimidation since 2014.”

“I am devastated—he was a dear dear friend and will miss him dearly. The country has lost a great son and nation builder. Om Shanti,” wrote Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman, Biocon.

After several decades at the helm, the patriarch stepped down as chairman of the holding company, Bajaj Holdings & Investments, Bajaj Auto, and Bajaj Finserv on March 31, 2020.

“He was the whole-time director and chairman of the automobile making arm since April 1, 1970. He decided not to continue as a whole-time director of the company after the expiry of his term,” the company had said in a notification to the stock exchanges.

He oversaw the successful transition of Bajaj Auto from the ‘Hamara Bajaj’ days through its popular Chetak brand of scooters to the World’s Favourite Indian — Bajaj now sells its motorcycles in over 70 countries. Bajaj, who played an active role in the affairs of the company till 2005, took a backseat in group companies, passing on the baton to the elder son, Rajiv Bajaj, for the auto business, and for the financial services business to the younger son, Sanjiv Bajaj.

On November 30, 2019, at an awards event organised by the Economic Times in Mumbai, said he was “born anti-establishment”.

In the 1970s, when Italy’s Piaggio didn’t renew Bajaj’s licence, he began manufacturing his own brand of scooters with names like Chetak and Super.

India Inc pays condolences to the industry doyen

Anand Mahindra, chairman, Mahindra Group

“I stand on the shoulders of giants. Thank you Rahulbhai. For letting me clamber up onto your broad shoulders, advising me, cheering me on, encouraging me to be bold. Your footprints on the sands of Business will never be extinguished. Om Shanti.”

Venu Srinivasan, chairman, TVS Motor Co

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.”

Harsh Goenka, chairman, RPG Enterprises

“The ‘spine’ of Indian business cracks. A close family friend, he was a visionary, straight talking and very respected for his value systems. An era ends! He leaves behind the two most capable sons in Indian industry, Rajiv and Sanjiv.”

Pawan Goenka, Chairman designate of INSPACe, Dept of Space, Chairman SCALE

“With Rahul Bajaj passing away, India has lost a stalwart, an icon, a fearless leader. I was fortunate to always have his blessings. In some ways he influenced me to return to India. His contribution to the auto industry is immeasurable. Om Shanti.”

Tulsi Tanti, Chairman and Managing Director, Suzlon Group

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Rahul Bajaj. He was an icon that kept the flag of Indian Inc. flying high at all times. His contribution to India is unparalleled. His efforts to promoted local manufacturing has helped build the foundation of Atma Nirbhar Bharat for decades. For me this is a personal loss since he was one of our oldest customers who demonstrated faith in wind energy and Suzlon since its early times. At the very onset of my journey he put his faith in me which I will never forget. Mr. Bajaj will be an inspiration for generations to come. His absence and the void created thereof will be difficult to fill for a long time. My prayers are with the family.”

Uday Kotak CEO, Kotak Mahindra Bank

“Rahul Bajaj: bold and fearless. A rare businessman who spoke truth to power. A proud Indian. Built a world class enterprise. I am truly honoured to know him. Will miss him.”


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