As the rich and famous Rahul Bajaj was awaiting election to the Rajya
Sabha as the common candidate of the Hindu communalist outfits BJP and
Shiv Sena and Sharad Pawar's National Congress Party, friends and
admirers organized a felicitation function for him in Mumbai on January
10, 2006. A group of pro-reservation youths turned up at the function to
stage a demonstration against his anti-reservation stance.
Rahul Bajaj is, of course, a person of merit. He graduated with an
honours degree in Economics from the prestigious St. Stephen's College,
Delhi, in 1958. Later he took a degree in Law from Mumbai and capped his
academic career with an MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1964. He
has the distinction of being the only Indian to have been invited to
co-chair the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.
The roots of his merit actually go back a few generations. His
grandfather Jamnalal Bajaj was a wealthy businessman, who threw in his
lot with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi early in life and courted
imprisonment during the freedom movement. Gandhi referred to him as his
fifth son. Jamnalal Bajaj was Treasurer of the Indian National Congress
from 1920 till his death in 1942. Amidst his social and political
activities, he found time to buy a steel mill and start a sugar factory.
In 1945, Jamnalal's son, Ramakrishna Bajaj, founded the Bajaj Auto,
which the grandson was to take to great heights when he took charge of
the family business two decades later.
Today it is the crown jewel of the Bajaj group, which has about 30
companies manufacturing two- and three-wheelers, electrical lamps and
tubes and fans etc., besides steel and sugar. The group's annual turn
over is about US$2.25 billion.
Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar, an economic journalist, sums up Rahul
Bajaj in these words: "Nobody who knows Rahul Bajaj will accuse him of
modesty. Brash and assertive, he thinks he created one of India's best
companies in the difficult days of the licence-permit raj."
The Harvard Business School, which features this distinguished alumnus
on its website, reveals the secret of his success. Here is the story,
from the horse's mouth. "To lower my costs while improving the price and
quality of my products, I needed economies of scale," he explained.
"Ignoring a government regulation, I increased my volume by more than
the permitted 25 percent of the licensed capacity. If I had to go to
jail for the excess production of a commodity that most Indians needed,
I didn't mind."
Needless to say Rahul Bajaj did not go to jail. When he embarked upon
his law-breaking enterprise, which his alma mater indulgently describes
it as civil disobedience, Bajaj Auto's licensed manufacturing capacity
was 20,000 units a year. By the beginning of the 1980s, Bajaj Auto had
increased its annual production to 172,000 vehicles. The end of the
license raj was still a decade away at the time.
Given Rahul Bajaj's stand on respect for law, his opposition to
reservation, which is a special provision that the state makes for
socially and economically backward classes of citizens in terms of the
Constitution, is understandable.
Those who subscribe to the Principles of Equality and Equal Opportunity
must respond to the wanton disregard of the law and the Constitution by
companies that do not respect these principles by boycotting their
products. BOYCOTT BAJAJ BRAND.
ps: in the Poona pact – "Gentlemen/elderly agreement" negotiated with
Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar, Rahul Bajaj's father is also one of the
co-signatory (in his capacity as Congress Treasurer, as were all
senior congress functionaries, including Birla) who promised to end
the caste based discrimination and untouchability against dalits in