Rahul Bajaj; Man who gave wheels to middle class Indians

Veteran industrialist Rahul Bajaj died at 83 on Saturday in Pune. The former chairperson of Bajaj Auto had been reportedly suffering from pneumonia.

“It is with deep sorrow that I inform you about the passing away of Rahul Bajaj, husband of the late Rupa Bajaj and father of Rajiv and Deepa, Sanjiv and Shefali and Sunaina and Manish. He passed away on the afternoon of February 12, 2022 in the presence of his closest family members,” said a statement from Bajaj group.

He had spent more than 50 years heading the Bajaj Auto, the second-largest motorcycle producer in India. In April 2021, Bajaj stepped down from his post as chairperson.

After he stepped down as chairperson, he was appointed as the company’s chairman emeritus for five years on May 1, 2021.

One of the oldest business groups in India, the Bajaj group has 25 companies—including Bajaj Auto, Bajaj Finance, Bajaj Finserv, Bajaj Electricals, Mukand and Bajaj Allianz—with around 36,000 employees.

A former Rajya Sabha member, Bajaj was also awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian award, in 2001.

He was also the Chairman of the industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for two terms—1979-80 and 1999-2000.

He was also the former chairman of the International Business Council, World Economic Forum, a former member of the South Asia advisory board of Harvard Business School and a former member of the International Advisory Council of the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.

Bajaj graduated from St Stephen’s College in Delhi University with an Honours Degree in Economics in 1958 and he also has a degree in Law from Bombay University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi were among the ones who took to Twitter to pay glowing tributes to Bajaj.