Rahul Bajaj, the late chairman emeritus of Bajaj Auto, will be remembered by the country for his contributions to the automobile sector, Indian industry, and also our national debate on industrial policy. He ably led a business of two-wheelers on multiple tracks, not letting the habituation of monopoly-clout under the Licence Raj stall Bajaj Auto’s success once rivalry grew intense. Above all, he spoke his mind along the way in a manner valued widely, even if his critical reviews occasionally ruffled the feathers of our rule-makers.
In 2019, Bajaj voiced what he identified as inadequate confidence among corporate leaders in the government’s appreciation of frank feedback. In the early 1990s, when Bajaj would be heard airing what the media labelled “Bombay Club” views, his take on the economy’s liberalization kept us enthralled. His evaluation of that policy shift would improve, reflective of an openness to new evidence that was rather influential in shaping public opinion as well. About a decade later, he stirred up a discussion with a pithy expression of doubt over the benefits of business-friendly governance that was not equally good for broad economic growth. Bajaj’s voice will be dearly missed.
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