Kamalnayan Bajaj - page 11

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KamalnayanBajaj –Architect of theBajajGroup
being.This couldbe seen inhis views on fair and ethical
dealings in life andbusiness.What I found reallyamazing
was his abilityof independent andoriginal thinking.
Some examples of his original thinkingarementioned
on theback cover of this book.Henever accepted ideas
uncritically.He evenarguedwithGandhiji.This iswhy
he earned the sobriquet of beinga ‘Gandhian’ rebel.
As couldbe said, hewas tutored in the school of life,
unfetteredby conventional thinking.His only formal
educationwas a year atCambridge.His getting
admission toCambridge is a story in its own right which
the readerwould savour in a chapter in this book.
Kakaji, through the forceof his personality, kept the
family together. If any familymember hadanyproblems,
hewas always there tohelp.Of course, he also expected
agreat deal fromall of us in the younger generation.He
hadhis ownwayof teachingandguidingus andat the
same timehe ensured thatwe also enjoyedourselves.
Very oftenwhenhewent abroad, he took onemember
of the younger generationwithhim. In1956he took
mewithhim toEurope for amonth. It was Suman to
Europe for over twomonths in the summer of 1960,
just before shewasmarried, and it wasMadhur in the
summer of 1971, which turned out tobe the last trip
abroad ofKakaji.
When Iwas inHarvardBusiness School, during the
summer of 1963, Rupa and I travelled all over theU.S.
by car for about threemonths. Almost half of the time,
he travelled in the carwithus.
We stayed inmotels, where the cost of a roomwas $10
per night.He expectedus to live like students. But what
was noteworthywas that he also lived like us!
Once I joined the business full time, from January 1965,
wheneverwewere together inMumbai andmore often
inPune, wewould sit for a discussion after dinner,
starting around 9p.m. whichwent on till 2 a.m. Iwould
disagreewithhimquite often and at times vehemently.
But, he didnotmind at all.
Kakaji gave all of us the freedom to learn and growby
makingmistakes.
Hiswas a roundedpersonality.Hewas inbusiness,
politics, involved in the civil society, and in culture
and arts.He travelledwidelywithin and outside India.
Kakaji was also amodernman, a contemporary person.
I amnot surewhether thiswas inspite of his ‘education’
inVinoba’s andGandhiji’s ashrams, or because of it!
Unlikemany others, hiswas an agilemind andhe kept
changinghis thinking and views, based onnew facts.
Muchhas been said andwritten aboutKakaji inbooks
and articles, but hiswas not a personalitywhich couldbe
described inwords.
From 1940whenhewas 25 years old till he passed
away at the young age of 57 in 1972, theworld changed
dramatically. From the secondWorldWar, theKorean
andVietnamwars, periods of growth and recession, the
Coldwar, etc., he kept changingwith theworld.
He kept advising themanagers in our companies to keep
upwith the latest technological developments globally.
He invited the best partners, whether it was Piaggio
of Italy, Philips ofHolland,DavidBrown ofU.K. for
Mukand andmany others.
But he didnot change his principles. Because of
Gandhiji and Jamnalalji’s commitment to
khadi
, he not
onlywore
khadi
till he died, but he didnot let the group
enter the textile industry. Similarly, thoughwe had a
SugarMill from the 1930s, he saw to it that themolasses
were not used toproduce potable alcohol.
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