I was listening to an interview of Rahul Bajaj (head of Bajaj Auto) on the Times Now News channel this weekend. Some views expressed by Mr. Bajaj shook me slightly and the hence the reason for writing this blog.
On the onset, let me say that I have always admired Mr. Bajaj as an industrialist. Mr. Bajaj mentioned in the same interview that he is keen in seeing Bajaj Auto to be the next Honda. I hope his dreams come true and full power to him and his organization. My respect for Rahul Bajaj also increased when he joined Rajya Sabha – the Upper House of Indian Parliament. To see a successful industrialist also contributing in the running of the nation was/is a momentous thing for Indian Democracy, IMHO.
Now to this interview! To explain the context of conversation in this interview, Rahul Bajaj was responding to the popular talk-of-the-town nowadays – Tata’s Nano. While Mr. Bajaj had his opinion on the economic viability of Nano, what flipped me was when he took a shot at the environmentalists (especially the ones who have had reservations against Nano). What he said next shook me! It was along the lines –
“If environmentalists have issues against Nano, they should go back to the Stone Age. That is where they would probably find the perfect environment and the ozone layer. Progress and Environment cannot happen at the same time.”
(Mr. Bajaj – if you are reading this and you think I mis-heard you, please correct me right now!)
With all due respect, Mr. Bajaj, I know that you have good opinions on almost everything (Cricket Down Under, Gujarat, etc.), but here you were way off. While I cannot claim myself to be an environmentalist, I can understand where they are coming from. I do not think they are expecting people to shy away from the pleasures and benefits associated with modern technology; however they are expecting organizations to value social and environmental responsibilities. Rahul Bajaj’s statement for me is equivalent to the Law & Enforcement Head’s message to the citizens – if they don’t like the crime in the city they should stay in their homes.
Since Mr. Bajaj opened the lid on his views on environment – let me also say that IMO one of the worst polluting vehicle in India is the Bajaj three-wheeler. I am saying this from the way I see them getting used on the roads by the end consumers (typically auto drivers, etc. for public transport). You may argue here that Bajaj Automobiles may not be responsible for the use once it goes off their showroom. I am not trying to hold Bajaj Auto responsible for how it is getting used by the common masses. However, I think we all should certainly hold them responsible, atleast partially, for not using technology enough to prevent such usage.
Remarks made by Mr. Bajaj were really unfortunate. For the sake of environment in India, I really hope that there is more to it then what I understood from those remarks. India is at a verge where it needs to decide as to how it wants to handle the Environment issue staring at its face. My feeling is that Governments/Politicians will take substantial time to take any actions on this. This is where respectable Indian organizations like Bajaj Auto will have to play a key role for the sake of society.
Comments/Feedbacks/Fires are most welcome!