Kamalnayan Bajaj - page 8

KamalnayanBajaj –Architect of theBajajGroup
value that continues into the fourth generation. They
wouldnot stopdigging until they haduncovered every
discoverable fact surrounding a specific event.Gradually
a treasure trove of information emerged.Knowledge
that had lainhidden for decades emerged fromdarkness
into the light.
the verbplayed its role.
Iwas given knowledge.Without strings, caveats or
restrictions. This ismost unusual. I had complete
freedom. The only other occasion of suchdelight was
when Iwas grantedunlimited access to theKasturbhai
Lalbhai letters.When a researcher is trying tofigure
out whatmakes an extraordinary person tick, such
transparency is invaluable.
Andby any yardstickKamalnayanwas an extraordinary
man.Hismany detractors –while hewas alive and later
–point tohis impatiencewithdetail, his dependence
onmanagers, his sharp speech. In this biography, I
believe youwill find thatKamalnayanwas able tobuild
an impressive business groupduring one of themost
tumultuous periods in Indianhistory, precisely because
of these traits.
Hadhe boggedhimself downwithdetail,Kamalnayan
couldnot have dreamt big. In 1942, the family bank
account heldbarelyRs. 3.5 lakh, group saleswere
less thanRs. 1 crore, and about 200peopleworked in
ginning andpressingmills. By 1972whenhe died, sales
wereRs. 76.24 crore andprofitsRs. 8.41 crore.
HadKamalnayannot depended onmanagers, he could
not have built sixteen factories and acquiredfivemore.
Was it sharp speech or didhe prefer to say the truth as
is?Even thosewho advisedhim touse softer language do
not deny hiswell-meaningnature andwillingness to go
out of hisway tohelp those inneed.
For a business historian, few experiences canmatch
the excitement of workingwithprimary data in an
unfettered environment. That tooprimary datanever
usedby anyone else. Iwas in virgin territory. Raw
primary data, however, carrieswith it the responsibility
of capturinghistory responsibly, accurately and
truthfully.One discovers somany interesting facts
and insights. Inevitably Iwanted to share everything I
discovered. But a reader doesn’t want aPhD. Biography
is asmuch as helping a reader discover himself or herself
as about the subject of the biography. I have to admit,
curbingmyself was difficult.
Writing this bookwas an amazing ride. Thank you
Rahul for providingmewith this opportunity.
Mumbai andOxford
December 25, 2014
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