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Remembering the man who popularised ‘Humara Bajaj’

Rahul Bajaj was born in Kolkata on June 30, 1938. The Bajaj Group was created by Rahul’s grandfather Jamnalal Bajaj in 1926, and his father Kamalnayan Bajaj succeeded him in 1942. Kamalnayan founded the company that would later become Bajaj Auto. He moved into additional companies such as cement, electrical appliances, and scooters within three years.

Rahul Bajaj obtained a law degree from Bombay University after graduating from St Stephen’s College in Delhi in 1958. After that, he earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in the United States and went on to become the CEO of Bajaj Auto in 1968.

After becoming the CEO, Rahul Bajaj expanded its product portfolio and led the diversified company through India’s transition from a closed to a liberalised economy. He ensured that the Bajaj brand gained traction in international markets while fending off emerging competition from Japanese motorcycle makers who threatened Bajaj Auto’s scooters.

The company was heavily damaged by the 2001 recession and stock market crash, and it was projected that Bajaj Auto’s days were numbered. Bajaj Auto, on the other hand, reinvented itself, building world-class manufacturing in Chakan and investing in R&D to create the Bajaj Pulsar Motorcycle. In its segment, Bajaj Pulsar is now the market leader.

Chetak, which was based on the Italian Vespa Sprint, was an economical mode of transportation for millions of Indians for decades and is known as ‘Hamara Bajaj.

One might be astonished to learn that the well-known Bajaj Chetak scooters had a 5-year waiting list. The Bajaj Products were quite popular. All of this was accomplished during a tough period of liberalisation, which says volumes about this great business magnate’s abilities and strengths. Rahul Bajaj is responsible for the famous campaign ‘Hamara Bajaj-Buland Bharat ki Buland Tasveer,’ which introduced sophisticated international advertising to Indian television.

He divided Bajaj Auto into three entities in 2008: Bajaj Auto, Bajaj Finserv, and a holding company. His sons are now in charge of the company’s day-to-day operations. In 1986, Rahul Bajaj was named chairman of Indian Airlines, and in 2001, he was given the Padma Bhushan. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha representing Maharashtra in June 2006. He stepped down as chairman in 2005, and his son Rajiv became the Group’s managing director. The Bajaj family was named “Distinguished Family of the Year” in 2013. They were honoured for devoting their riches and effort to the greater good.

Rahul Bajaj was also a member of the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council, Harvard Business School’s Global Advisory Board, and the Brookings Institution’s International Advisory Council in Washington, DC.

Rahul Bajaj died on February 12, 2022, at the age of 83, from pneumonia. He had previously been admitted to the Ruby Hall Clinic in Pune and was receiving treatment there. Prior to his death, he also had a cardiac condition.

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