Veteran industrialist Rahul Bajaj, the former chairman of Bajaj Auto, died in Pune today. He was 83.
He died in the "presence of his closest family members", a Bajaj Group statement said.
Rahul Bajaj had stepped down as the Chairman of Bajaj Auto last year, ending a 49-year stint as the head of the two-wheeler manufacturer known for iconic taglines like “Hamara Bajaj” and "you just can't beat a Bajaj".
Here’s a brief look at the business tycoon’s big milestones in his life and career.
Rahul Bajaj was born on June 10, 1938 in then Calcutta (Kolkata). He graduated from St Stephen's College, Delhi University with an Honours Degree in Economics in 1958. He also has a Law degree from Mumbai University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
The Bajaj group of companies was founded by Rahul Bajaj's grandfather Jamnalal Bajaj in 1926. Rahul Bajaj took over as the Chief Executive Officer of Bajaj Auto in 1968. In 1972, he was appointed as Managing Director of Bajaj Auto.
Credited with making Bajaj a household name in the 1970s, he successfully steered the company through The Emergency, License Raj and Economic Liberalisation that began in the 1990s.
Bajaj launched the Chetak, one of the company’s earliest independent two-wheeler models, which became a massive hit especially in Indian middle class households.
Without letting the scooter go, Rahul Bajaj then steered into motorcycles, becoming one of the first to launch a locally made motorcycle in India through a tie-up with Japan’s Kawasaki.
In 2001, Rahul Bajaj received the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian honour in the country. From 2006 to 2010, he was a member of the Rajya Sabha.
In 2005, when the Chetak saw its last rollout, Rahul Bajaj stepped down as Managing Director. His son Rajiv took over the reins from his father.
Bajaj, at different points in life, also served twice as the President of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), once at the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) and also as the Chairman of the erstwhile Indian Airlines.
In 2008, he split Bajaj Auto into three units - Bajaj Auto, finance company Bajaj Finserv and a holding company.
In April last year, Rahul Bajaj stepped down as the Chairman of Bajaj Auto. Niraj Bajaj, a director on the company's board, took over after him from May 1, 2021. He was the company's Chairman Emeritus for five years.
Bajaj’s connection with the Chetak scooter was resurrected in 2020 when the company launched a fully electric version of the model, marking its entry in the electric vehicle space. Sometime later, he announced he was stepping down as MD.
Rahul Bajaj's sons Rajiv and Sanjiv are the Managing Directors of Bajaj Auto and Bajaj Finserv, respectively.