The automotive legend says goodbye!

Rahul Bajaj, Chairman of Bajaj Auto, passed away today at the age of 83. Here’s a look back at the automotive legend’s life and his accomplishments over the years.

Rahul Bajaj, Chairman of Bajaj Auto, passed away today at the age of 83. The businessman was hospitalized and contracted pneumonia while also having a heart problem. He breathed his last today (Saturday, February 12). Rahul Bajaj was Chairman of the Bajaj Group for over 40 years.

An official statement from the Bajaj Group read: “It is with deep sadness that I inform you of the passing 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 February 12, 2022 in the presence of his closest family members.”

Rahul Bajaj was born on June 10, 1938, the grandson of Indian independence fighter Jamnalal Bajaj. Rahul Bajaj’s grandfather founded the Bajaj group in 1926 and was succeeded in 1942 by Kamalnayan Bajaj, Rahul’s father. In a short time, he expanded Bajaj’s business into other industries including cement, electrical appliances, and scooters.

Rahul Bajaj began his journey at Bajaj Group as Deputy General Manager after completing his MBA from Harvard Business School in the US. Under Naval K Firodia – then CEO of Bajaj Auto – Rahul Bajaj handled marketing, accounting, purchasing and auditing while also embracing business ideologies. After Kamalnayan Bajaj passed away in 1972, Rahul took over the management of Bajaj Auto.

Under his leadership, the Bajaj group grew numerous folds and joined the billion dollar club. The Bajaj Chetak and the Super were his initiatives that had tremendous success in India. The Bajaj Chetak, based on the Vespa Sprint, became a household name to millions across the country due to its affordability.

Although the Bajaj Group experienced a slump in the late 2000s when Japanese two-wheeler manufacturers such as Yamaha, Suzuki and Honda began introducing products in India following market liberalization, Bajaj quickly regained lost ground with the launch of the Pulsar. The Bajaj Pulsar remains a popular brand to this day.

In his professional life, Rahul Bajaj is known as “straightforward” and his friends call him “fearless”. A good example to highlight its characteristics is when Italian two-wheeler manufacturer Piaggio failed to renew Bajaj’s license. Rahul Bajaj started making his own scooters in India – the Chetak and the Super.

Rahul Bajaj received numerous awards and recognitions during his lifetime and was awarded the third highest civilian honor, the Padma Bhushan, in 2001. Some notable awards and recognitions include:

  • Appointed Chairman of Indian Airlines in 1986
  • Elected Rajya Sabha by Maharashtra in 2006
  • The family was named Distinguished Family of the Year in 2013
  • CII President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2017

In 2008, Rahul Bajaj split Bajaj into three separate verticals – Bajaj Auto, Bajaj Finserv and a holding company. His sons Rajiv Bajaj and Sanjiv Bajaj run the company’s business.

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