RIP Rahul Bajaj, father of the Chetak scooter

Industrialist and former chairman of the Bajaj group Rahul Bajaj passed away on Saturday 12 February 2022 at his home following to illness, according to statement by the company.
Rahul Bajaj, who stood down from his position of non-executive director and chairman of Bajaj Auto last year, was born in 1938 and took charge charge of the Bajaj group business in 1965.

A 1976 advert for the Bajaj Chetak scooter.

The Bajaj Group is an Indian multinational conglomerate company founded by Rahul’s grandfather, Jamnalal Bajaj in Mumbai in 1926. Bajaj Auto was established in 1945 and it initially imported and sold two- and three-wheelers in India. In 1959, it obtained a license from the Government of India to manufacture two-wheelers and three-wheelers and also a licence from Piaggio to manufacture Vespa scooters in India. Under his stewardship, flagship firm Bajaj Auto saw its turnover increase dramatically with the firm’s scooters becoming the mainstay. After the licence with Piaggio ended, from the 1970s Bajaj moved to produce their own scooter, the Bajaj Chetak, based upon the Piaggio technology for the VBB model they had produced under licence.

The Chetak scooter became an aspirational symbol for the middle class Indian families and even though production figures were at one stage capped by government legislation, it became the biggest selling scooter in India. It is claimed that at one time the waiting list for a brand new Chetak could be up to 10 years and that in some areas the price of a good secondhand model could be more than a new one!

(image from Bajaj Group Heritage)

Bajaj began producing motorcycles in the 1980s. As sales declined Bajaj eventually ceased scooter production, but recently relaunched the Chetak name on an electric scooter.
Throughout this time however they have continued to produce three-wheeled auto rickshaws, again based on tooling and technology they had originally licence from from Piaggio.
In 2005, Rahul had started passing the baton of the company to son Rajiv Bajaj, who became the managing director of Bajaj Auto.
Rahul Bajaj was recipient of many awards and honorary doctorates from universities. He was also twice elected as the president of the Confederation of Indian Industry.There are hundreds of thousands of people around the world who at some stage are thankful for a Bajaj scooter, something I’m sure the family are very proud of indeed.

Rahul Bajaj is survived by two sons, Rajiv Bajaj and Sanjiv Bajaj, and a daughter Sunaina Kejriwal. Our thoughts go out to his family as this sad time. RIP Rahul.


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