Rahul Bajaj: The ‘spine’ of Indian industry

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Rahul Bajaj, chairman emeritus of the Bajaj Group and one of the most outspoken industrialists of India, passed away on Saturday at the age of 83.

Bajaj was one of the original champions of Make in India and one of the movers of the informal Bombay Club in the early 1990s which wanted to level the playing field for Indian companies as the influx of foreign companies started.

Bajaj is credited with the ubiquitous two wheeler in Bajaj Auto and the cult campaign of ‘Hamara Bajaj-Buland Bharat ki Buland Tasveer’ which brought slick world class advertising to Indian TV screens and a corporate brand campaign that resonated with the Indian public much before TV ads took off.

Bajaj was seen as a bold industry leader who always spoke his mind even to those in the government.

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

Bajaj is also credited with building the industry lobby, CII of which he was President for two terms.

Harsh Goenka called him the ‘spine’ of Indian industry. “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,” Goenka said in a tweet.

Rajiv is at the helm of Bajaj Auto while Sanjiv steers Bajaj Finance, two powerhouse companies in India.

Columnist Shobhaa De has raised the question — will Rahul Bajaj be given a State funeral? He certainly deserves the honour, she said.

Former Union Minister Praful Patel pointed out that Bajaj was one of the longest serving chairman in corporate India. He is credited with making brand Bajaj a household name, Patel said.

Former Finance Minister P. Chaidamabaram said Rahul Bajaj was the one who put average Indians on two motorised wheels. In his passing away, we have lost a far sighted and outspoken business leader, he said.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said Bajaj was one of the few businessmen who spoke out against the 2002 communal riots, and against the climate of fear & intimidation since 2014.

Bajaj was a former Rajya Sabha member and was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2001.

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