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“Do whatever you think best, but be best at whatever you do.”
– Member of Rajya Sabha Padma Bhushan Rahul Bajaj
Like a handful of people of the 1950’s as 57er Ashok (Tony) Jaitley, 58er Dr. Peter Philip, 59ers Sujit Bhattacharaya, and myself, 54er Rahul Bajaj was a Mumbai Cathedralite and a Delhi Stephanian. (There is an earlier blog entry on both blogs listing several more who share this common heritage.)
Ashok Jaitley, Tony to most of us, wrote a book about St. Stephen’s College. Rahul released the book where Mani Shankar Aiyar, another Stephanian of our era spoke. Here is a quote from Tony’s book:
"The same spirit of striving for the best was infused in all other activities despite the cultivated air of nonchalance that Stephanians have always sought to project about themselves. But this has not deterred the real achievers from being clear about their own perspective. Rahul Bajaj, one of the most innovative and successful captains of Indian industry, recalls his days in College as the second most powerful influence after his school in Bombay: 'It was the first whiff of freedom...and as the Cat Stevens number goes, "the first cut is the deepest." The notion of a performing elite was imprinted in my mind at College. We are all here to make a difference and we should be very good at something, is the essence of Stephania."
Also like Peter and me, Rahul was a Savageite and also House Captain. There, however, the similarity ends, as Rahul is one of the topmost industrialists in India and also ranks extremely high in the world.
It is reputed that Rahul was a sportsman. He was an outstanding boxer and won his weight most years. He is remembered as being part of the School Table Tennis Team. I also remember him as an long distance athlete. As I was just a newcomer to school in 1954, the year Rahul graduated, I am not fully and personally conversant with all his accomplishments at school.
The Bajaj Enterprise started as a sugar manufacturing factory in 1931. It has now grown to become one of the country’s largest business houses.
Rahul took over the running of the Bajaj Auto company in 1965. Activities encompass the manufacture of a whole range of products.
In 2001 the Bajaj Group had a sales turnover in excess of US$ 1,300 million. The Net Assets were worth US$ 1,333 million and the Net Profit was US$ 58 million. It was ranked as the 5th largest business family in India by the Centre for Monitoring Indian economy (CMIE).
It has under its umbrella over 25 companies and a strength of over 25000 employees.
It’s core strength, however, is the unshakeable foundation based on its tradition of trust.
Rahul's most recent interview with Chris Morris from the BBC was about the small car of Bajaj Auto, in relation to the Tata Nano. It can be found at this link.
The interesting similarity between Ratan Tata and Rahul Bajaj is that when Ratan was Chairman of Air India, Rahul was Chairman of Indian Airlines. (I do not remember Ratan as a Cathedralite but younger brother, Jimmy, was a 57er and played hockey and cricket with us.)
Rahul received the Padma Bhushan in 2001.
Cathedralite 54er and Stephanian 57er, Independent Rajya Sabha member, Chairman of Bajaj Group, Rahul Bajaj will turn 70 this Tuesday.
I hope as many of you that can will wish this outstanding Cathedralite / Stephanian and wish him many many more years of service to our nation.
(Many thanks to Cathedralite 56er HS Uberoi and Cathedralite / Stephanian 57er Ashok Jaitley (and his brother Ravi, Rahul’s classmate) for their valuable contributions when writing this tribute.)