Bajaj had stood down from his position of non-executive director and chairman of Bajaj Auto on 30 April last year and remained as the Chairman Emeritus
Mumbai: Ministers, politicians and industry leaders paid rich tributes to eminent industrialist and former chairman of the Bajaj group Rahul Bajaj, who passed away today due to illness at his home in Pune.
Condoling the death of the veteran industrialist, prime minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter, “Rahul Bajaj Ji 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. Pained by his demise. Condolences to his family and friends. Om Shanti.”
Shri Rahul Bajaj Ji 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. Pained by his demise. Condolences to his family and friends. Om Shanti.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 12, 2022
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman also paid her homage to Bajaj, who, according to Sitharaman, had put Indian industry on the world map. “A stalwart of Indian industry passes away. Shri. #RahulBajaj was passionate about his work. He spoke for the entire industry and mentored many budding entrepreneurs. Condolences to his family and friends,” Sitharaman said in a tweet.
In a tweet, President Ram Nath Kovind said, “Saddened to learn of Shri Rahul Bajaj’s demise. A doyen of Indian industry, he was passionate about its priorities. His career reflected the rise and innate strength of the nation’s corporate sector. His death leaves a void in the world of industry. My condolences to his family.” Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu also condoled the demise. Bajaj, who stood down from his position of non-executive director and chairman of Bajaj Auto on April 30 last year and remained as the Chairman Emeritus, was not keeping well for some time and passed away at around 2:30 pm on Saturday.
His last rites will be held on Sunday, the official said. Rahul Bajaj will be accorded a state funeral, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said as he and state governor BS Koshyari condoled the demise. “The contribution of the Bajaj family in the nation’s freedom movement and its industrial and social development is very high. During his tenure as chairman of Bajaj group, Rahul Bajaj expanded the business empire of the group in India and outside,” the governor said.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also condoled the death and said the country has lost a visionary with courage. “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,” Gandhi tweeted.
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. pic.twitter.com/SnWJpYDV85 — Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) February 12, 2022
Referring to ‘Hamara Bajaj’ scooter tag line, P Chidambaram described Bajaj as the one who put average Indians on two motorised wheels. “In his passing away, we have lost a far-sighted and outspoken business leader,” Chidambaram said. Another senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said he has many fond memories of Bajaj spread over 40 years of friendship.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar remembered Rahul Bajaj, 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!
— Sharad Pawar (@PawarSpeaks) February 12, 2022
Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said Bajaj was a major contributor to the progress of the country on the economic front. “Received the very sad news of the death of the country’s famous industrialist Rahul Bajaj. He made a big contribution to the progress of the country on the economic front. ‘Buland Bharat Ki Buland Awaj’ became a part of every household. My soulful condolences to such a great personality. May God place the departed soul at his feet,” Kejriwal tweeted.
The automobile industry showered glowing tributes to the veteran industrialist. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) mourned his death. “Rahul Bajaj was a towering leader for Indian industry and his sad demise leaves a huge void in our business ecosystem and India has lost one of its tallest leaders in industry,” said T V Narendran, President, CII.
Taking to Twitter, Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra stated: 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 Indian Business will never be extinguished.”
Biocon Executive Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw 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.”
RPG Group Chairman Harsh Goenka tweeted: “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.”
Kotak Mahindra Bank CEO Uday Kotak noted: “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 survived by two sons, Rajiv Bajaj and Sanjiv Bajaj, and a daughter Sunaina Kejriwal.
Born on June 10, 1938, he headed the Bajaj group of companies which have presence across segments such as automobiles, general and life insurance, investment and consumer finance, home appliances, electric lamps, wind energy, special alloy and stainless steel, material handling equipment and travel.
After taking charge of the Bajaj group business in 1965, Rahul Bajaj led it to the growth path. He steered the diversified entity during India’s transition from a closed economy to a liberalised one and drove the company to expand its product portfolio with the Bajaj brand finding foothold in global markets while warding off emerging competition from Japanese motorcycle makers that challenged the Bajaj Auto’s scooters.
Under his 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 had started 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. Bajaj was 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.
With inputs from PTI