Rajiv Envisions ‘Bajaj Beyond’ To Put A World’s Favourite Indian In Every Home

T Murrali
26 Mar 2024
07:00 AM
3 Min Read

Bajaj Beyond encapsulates a unique vision that goes beyond the conventional realms of CSR, fostering initiatives that empower individuals to explore, cultivate, and thrive in their talents.

Rajiv Bajaj

Last week, the Bajaj Group launched a comprehensive skill development initiative called 'Bajaj Beyond,' committing INR 5,000 crore to be invested over the next five years. The impetus behind this initiative stems from India's developmental challenges, particularly the scarcity of skilled workers. Studies indicate that only 5% of India's workforce undergo formal skill training, highlighting a critical gap in the country's labour force.

With the objective of addressing this disparity, Bajaj Beyond endeavours to empower more than two crore young individuals by providing them with essential skills necessary to capitalise on the burgeoning employment and entrepreneurial opportunities within India's rapidly expanding economy.

Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director of Bajaj Auto, said, ultimately the qualitative goal of this initiative is to put a world’s favourite Indian in every home, like Microsoft had a goal to put a computer in every home. 'We aspire to cultivate at least one skilled individual who can contribute to India's progress,' he said. Therefore, a substantial 90% of the company's CSR budget will be allocated towards skilling initiatives.

Rajiv’s rationale behind this decision is rooted in the belief that true impact is achieved not through grandiose announcements but through tangible action driven by skills. He stressed the imperative of equipping individuals with practical skills, asserting that without them, transformative action remains elusive.

Trailblazing Transitions

Reflecting on his three-decade tenure at Bajaj Auto, the Managing Director highlighted three significant transitions the company underwent: from a scooter manufacturer to a motorcycle giant, from a domestic player to a global contender, and presently, towards a focus on new energy vehicles. Embracing change, he cited Darwin's theory, emphasising the importance of adaptability in survival.

In his perspective, successful adaptation hinges on two essential attributes: a sound strategy guided by innovative ideas and the requisite skills for execution. Without the latter, strategies and ideas remain dormant, mere aspirations confined to paper. Skills, he asserted, empower individuals to translate vision into reality, enabling effective execution on the ground.

Why Prioritise Skills?

Illustrating the significance of skills, Rajiv shared his admiration for Honda Motor Corporation, citing founder Soichiro Honda's vision of creating a workplace where employees' dreams could flourish. Much like Honda's call to engineers, he stressed the importance of skills in realising one's aspirations. Bajaj Auto has been following this mantra inviting individuals to join the company to unleash their full potential and make the most of their lives.

Referencing Mahatma Gandhi's famous dictum, 'Be the change you want to see in the world,' Rajiv underscored the essential role of skills in personal transformation. He argued that without the ability to develop oneself, instigating broader societal change becomes an uphill task.


Deeds Speak Louder

Rajiv cautioned against the misconception that mere words or promises of investment alone could bring about significant change. Instead, he urged stakeholders to assess how much of these initiatives translate into tangible outcomes on the ground. From this perspective, he redefined CSR as 'Constructive Social Reform' or 'Create Skilled Resources,' underscoring the need for accountability and progress monitoring.

Drawing from correspondence between Mahatma Gandhi and his great-grandfather, Jamnalal Kaniram Bajaj who founded Bajaj Group of companies in 1920s, Rajiv highlighted the concept of constructive programmes in Gandhi's philosophy of Satyagraha and Non-violence. Gandhi's advocacy for activities like spinning cloth and salt mining underscored the practical skills required for self-reliance and community empowerment, he mentioned.

In contrast to traditional forms of activism, constructive programmes focus on building equitable, self-sufficient communities through initiatives promoting education, economic independence, and environmental stewardship. This approach aligns with Gandhi's vision of creating a more than just an equal society through constructive action.

Rajiv also expressed admiration for the insights of Fabrizio Petri, former First Secretary at the Embassy of Italy in New Delhi.

Initiatives By Bajaj Auto

Speaking on the topic of skill initiatives, he highlighted the introduction of BEST - Bajaj Engineering Skills Training, which gels well with Bajaj Auto as a manufacturing company. This programme is designed to train engineers and diploma holders, bridging the skill gap prevalent in the manufacturing industry. Additionally, it endeavours to support disadvantaged youth from socially and economically weaker backgrounds through scholarships, providing them with opportunities for sustainable livelihoods. The strategy is centred around leveraging the company’s existing skills to positively impact people's lives in the marketplace.

Furthermore, under the banner of 'Empowering Youth Through Skill Development,' Bajaj Auto, in collaboration with Lighthouse Communities, adopts a comprehensive approach to skill enhancement, with a focus on marginalised youth to uplift their livelihood prospects. By empowering these individuals and harnessing their potential, the programme offers modules aimed at fostering self-discovery and personal growth.

Through initiatives like the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme, conducted in partnership with Bhartiya Yuva Shakti Trust (BYST), the company aims to empower underprivileged youth aged 18-35 to pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations, transitioning them from being job seekers to becoming job creators.

Key For Success

Highlighting the importance of effective management for the success of these initiatives, he shared insights from his mentor, Dr John Wallace, who instilled in him the significance of adhering to the 5Rs when embarking on new endeavours: Realism, Responsibility, Resources, Record, and Recognition. Rajiv urged the stakeholders of Bajaj Beyond to embrace these guiding principles, which he himself has followed diligently ever since he met with Dr Wallace over three decades ago.

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