Bajaj Chetak

Rahul Bajaj

by Guruprasad

Young Rahul Bajaj’s photo from 1980s.

Rahul was the king of the automobile empire from 1960s to early 90s.

Bajaj Chetak had become a symbol of Indian auto industry and was in heavy demand due to the fact that there was no competition for it.

It had an average waiting period of 10 years. And in some cases the waiting period went upto 15 years. It was the most sought after dowry during marriages.

So there were funny stories behind it (they maybe true also) which said that an expecting father waits outside the delivery room. As soon as the baby is born, the first question he will ask is “boy or girl?” and depending on the answer, he will either rush to a sweet stall or the nearest Bajaj showroom. If its a boy, sweet stall. If girl, then he will book a Chetak in Bajaj showroom so that by the time he gets the scooter, his daughter will be around 16-18 years old and ready for marriage so that he can give away this Chetak as dowry. )

But why were there such long waiting periods?

wasnt it all manufactured in India? Yes.

Was there shortage of labour in India? No.

Then why?

Bajaj Chetak

Because of our socialistic policies of those days which was popularly called license raj. From 1950 to 1990, anyone who had to do business had to run around bureaucrats to get approvals and licenses for everything. One of the approvals was related to the quantity of products/goods manufactured per month(quota).

So, Mr.Bajaj had a very tough time because he was never given the permission to increase his monthly quota (God knows why). Inspite of showing how people are waiting for decades for a scooter, and saying that he will give employment to thousands of villagers as workers in his factory, the govt never bothered to permit him to make more scooters.

Finally, a frustrated Rahul Bajaj went the non-cooperative way and started increasing his quota. As expected, the govt threatened him with imprisonment and filed MRTP (Monopololies and Restrictive Trade Practice) case against him. During the trial, the judge asked Bajaj if he is ready to go to jail for his “mistake”.

For which, Bajaj replied “My grandfather went to jail for my country’s freedom. I stand ready to do the same for producing on behalf of my motherland”. Nothing happened after that.

The case was dropped.

The last part of this story (about Rahul Bajaj’s trial) is taken from Gurcharan Das’ book “India Unbound” and I have managed to take a photo of that text and uploaded here:

Gurcharan Das is an Indian author and his book “India Unbound” is one of the best selling books and translated into many languages. In this book, u can read about India’s economic ride since Independence, the license raj, Hindu rate of economy growth and how India was pushed into dark ages for almost 35 years due to some of the “visionary” policies of our “glorified” past leaders.

Bajaj Chetak
Bajaj Chetak

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