Industry stalwart Rahul Bajaj passes away

Former Chairman of Bajaj Auto Rahul Bajaj was awarded the third-highest civilian award, Padma Bhushan, in 2001.
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Rahul Bajaj, former Chairman of the Bajaj Group, passed away aged 83 years in Pune on Saturday, the company confirmed.

Bajaj was not keeping well for quite some time, and passed away at around 2:30 pm on Saturday, the automaker firm said. His last rites will be held on Sunday.

He is survived by two sons, Rajiv Bajaj and Sanjiv Bajaj, and a daughter Sunaina Kejriwal.

Rahul Bajaj was awarded the third-highest civilian award, Padma Bhushan, in 2001.

He took over the Bajaj Group in 1965 and ran it for the next 40 years. He stepped down in 2005 when his son Rajiv became the Group's Managing Director.

"The group carved out an enviable position in the production of scooters, for which it captured a sizeable market both in India and abroad," wrote the late Dwijendra Tripathi, business historian, in The Oxford History of Indian Business.

In 2008, Rahul Bajaj split Bajaj Auto into three units: Bajaj Auto, finance company Bajaj Finserv, and a holding company.

Rahul Bajaj was elected as the president of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) twice in 1979-80 and 1999–2000. Bajaj also served as the president of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) from 1979 to 1980.

He was honoured with the CII President's Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2017, by the erstwhile President of India Pranab Mukherjee, for his outstanding work to the Indian industry, the President of India,

In April 2021, Bajaj stepped down as Non-executive Chairman of Bajaj Auto, ceding the spot to his cousin, Niraj Bajaj. He remained with the company as Chairman Emeritus.

He wrote his farewell letter to shareholders in the financial year 2021. "Subsequent to the first and second quarters of FY2021 — when real GDP crashed by 24.4 percent followed by another 7.3 percent — we were beginning to see some green shoots of recovery. October-December 2020 showed a small but positive GDP growth of 0.4 percent. We were looking forward to another quarter of positive growth in January-March 2021," Bajaj wrote in the letter dated 29 April 2021."

"With the second wave that started in March 2021, I doubt whether we will see that growth. More worryingly, I am concerned about Q1 FY2022 and what a series of state-wide lockdowns might do to businesses and economic growth," he added.

Bajaj served as a member of Rajya Sabha, India's Upper House of Parliament, between 2006 and 2010 period.

Rahul Bajaj graduated from St Stephen's College in Delhi in 1958, and also earned a degree in law from Bombay University. He then went on to pursue an MBA from Harvard Business School in the US.

Edited by Kunal Talgeri