Rahul Bajaj, former chairman of Bajaj Auto, passed away at 83 on Saturday, February 12. Bajaj, veteran industrialist, was at the helm of country’s one of the most popular two-wheeler companies, for nearly five decades. Bajaj stepped down from the role of chairman of Bajaj Auto in April 2021, owing to his age.
“It is with deep sorrow that I inform you about the passing away of Shri Rahul Bajaj, husband of the late Rupa Bajaj and father of Rajiv/Deepa, Sanjiv/Shefali and Sunaina/Manish. He passed away on the afternoon of 12th February, 2022 in the presence of his closest family members,” Bajaj Group said in a statement. Bajaj had pneumonia and also a heart problem. He was admitted to the hospital for last one month, said Dr Purvez Grant, the managing trustee at Ruby Hall Clinic.
He was one of the longest serving chairmen in corporate India.
Bajaj was born on June 30, 1938 in Kolkata. He graduated with an Honours Degree in Economics from the prestigious St Stephen’s College, Delhi in 1958. He also had a degree in Law from Bombay University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
The Bajaj group of companies was founded by Rahul Bajaj’s grandfather Jamnalal Bajaj in 1926. In 1968, he took over as chief executive officer of Bajaj Auto. In 1972, he was appointed as Managing Director of Bajaj Auto.
He was the main force behind making Bajaj brand a household name in India. The blockbuster models of Bajaj Chetak and Priya became India’s favourite within few years of launch. In 1990s, two-wheelers in India synonymous with Bajaj, thanks to one and only Rahul Bajaj.
In 2001, Rahul Bajaj was awarded with Padma Bhushan the third highest civilian honour in the country. He served twice as the President of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), once at the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). Bajaj also as the chairman of the erstwhile Indian Airlines.
In 2008, he divided Bajaj Auto into three units — Bajaj Auto, finance company Bajaj Finserv and a holding company. Ending a 49-year stint as the head of the two-wheeler manufacturer, he stepped down as chairman of Bajaj Auto in April, 2021. However, he was appointed as firm’s chairman emeritus for five years.
Known for his fearless and outspoken nature, Rahul Bajaj has become the leading voice of Indian auto industry over the decades. He has never shied away from making his position clear on the policy concerning industry and others.
Bajaj will be cremated with full state honours on Sunday, said Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray. He is survived by two sons, Rajiv Bajaj and Sanjiv Bajaj, and a daughter Sunaina Kejriwal. From political leaders to India Inc, all paid tribute to Bajaj on social media.