Kamalnayan Bajaj - page 32

28
KamalnayanBajaj –Architect of theBajajGroup
Some say that luck is predictable. If youwantmore
luck, takemore chances. Bemore active. Showup
more often. It’s unlikely thatKamalnayanwouldhave
heard of this cliché but he demonstrated it often inhis
life. Luck led to a technical partnershipbetweenEnrico
Piaggio andKamalnayanBajaj, twomenwhose lives
were sodifferent that they couldhave been living on two
different planets.
Bothwereborn into famous familieswith strongpolitical
links.Butwhile thePiaggios enjoyed
la dolce vita,
Jamnalal
taught his familyhow to liveonRs. 500amonth.He
“reducedhis standardof living to that of the lowermiddle
class,”commentedRammanoharLohia, a socialist.
ThePiaggios used tomanufacture aircrafts.Their factory
was heavilybombedduringWorldWar II.After thewar,
Enrico searched for anewopportunity.Therewere few
cars left in impoverished Italybut people still needed
cheap transport. Several entrepreneurs jumpedat the
opportunity, includingFerdinando Innocenti,whose steel
tube factory toohadbeenbombedout of existence.
Innocenti hiredCorradinoD’Ascanio, amilitary
aeronautical engineer who had led the design and
construction of the firstmodern helicopter. As he
hatedmotorbikes, D’Ascanio created a revolutionary
vehicle: the scooter. The twomen fell out, and
D’Ascanio took his design toEnrico. TheVespa
(wasp in Italian) was born.
Meanwhile Innocenti introduced theLambretta. Both
entrepreneurs began exporting their scooters.
AnEnglishman,WilliamRootes, introduced the
Lambretta in India.
Desi
Kamalnayan introduced the
Vespa. It could as easily have been the otherway round.
Luck favouredKamalnayan: theVespawas undoubtedly
the better lookingmodel. Bothbeganby importing
the scooters. Assembly followed. Finally sales volumes
justifiedmanufacturing. Awaiting list emerged for the
Vespa, none for theLambretta.
Throughout themany vicissitudes that doggedBajaj
Auto in the 1960s, Enrico andhismanagement team
proved tobe patient and loyal partners. India’s foreign
exchange situationwas precarious. The government
couldbarely scrape enough to release some for critical
capitalmachinery. Awkwardly theBajajs couldnot
always pay their partners on time for royalties nor for
components they hadnot yet learnt tomake. Piaggio
continued their support. They recognised the sincerity of
Kamalnayan andhismanagement team: theywere not
trying to get out ofmeeting their dues.
Enricodied onOctober 16, 1965, age 60.His business
passed on tohis son-in-law,UmbertoAgnelli. A special
business relationship ended. The newly inherited one
would turn into a legal nightmare.
The luckystingof awasp
1...,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31 33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,...124
Powered by FlippingBook