Who doesn’t remember the old trusty Bajaj Chetak that served as a workhorse for many Indian families? How about the flashy Bajaj Pulsars that turned every head with their sleek designs and frames? Or the sturdy auto-rickshaws that populate our roads? It would only be right to assume that Bajaj is deeply entrenched within Indian hearts and minds.
Bajaj has not only managed to weave itself into the very fabric of the Indian family through its products. It has also been quietly carrying out a mission to better the lives of many underprivileged Indians.
Carrying on the legacy of its founder Jamnalal Bajaj, who was a beloved humanitarian, Bajaj Auto has been actively pursuing welfare activities. Well before Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was a thing, it was already involved in community service programmes with the group spending at least Rs. 100 crore annually on its CSR activities. For the year 2019-20, it spent Rs. 116.23 crores on its CSR initiatives.
Jamnalal Bajaj was an avid proponent of education and Bajaj Auto has followed his track, establishing 2 education projects – Bajaj Education Initiative (BEI) and the e-Learning Project. Run by the Jankidevi Bajaj Gram Vikas Sanstha (JBGVS) NGO with the aim of providing ‘quality education’ and ‘infrastructure’, the projects target low-income households and urban slum children. Recognising that early childhood education is a necessity and that learning disabilities do exist, JBGVS is working tirelessly to ensure that no child is denied access to education. This is also in line with the government policies like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the Right to Education Act.
Bajaj Auto is also involved with the NGO – Room to Read. The NGO’s goal is to improve literacy by promoting reading habits and setting up libraries. Bajaj Auto has also partnered with Aasra Trust to implement education programmes for children on the streets.
Livelihood and skill development programmes are also hosted as a part of the Bajaj Auto CSR initiatives. BAIF Institute for Sustainable Livelihood Department (BISLD) is another institute associated with Bajaj Auto. Through its 50 Cattle Development Centres, livestock management and correct feeding practices are taught to the local populace. Bajaj also started a Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme with BYST with the aim to empower disadvantaged individuals and shaping them into go-getters. So far, the programme has supported 1,066 entrepreneurs, who have all contributed to a total income of Rs. 5.75 lakhs the last financial year.
Rural development is also another sector of focus for the Bajaj Auto CSR activities. Understanding that the majority of India still lives in villages and rural development is the key to progress, Bajaj Auto has collaborated with Chinmaya Organization for Rural Development (CORD). Holistic growth while empowering women and persons with disabilities are some goals set by the organization. Bajaj Auto is also involved in environmental conservation in Himalayan regions through its engagement with Himal Prakriti, setting up smoke-less chulhas, poly houses and lending a hand in the conservation of traditional yak breeds.
Bajaj Auto’s CSR activities are not founded upon some base desire to be recognised and adored. Rather, the ethos of social responsibility and the desire to effect positive changes are the reasons behind it. One could also say that Jamnalal’s unwavering moral compass and beliefs have been inherited by his creation.
From the humble Cheetak to its latest Pulsar, Bajaj Auto has never forgotten the masses that have been responsible for its climb to the top. It may be the 4th largest manufacturer of two and three wheelers but for us, it will always be “Hamara Bajaj”. After all, Bajaj has time and again emphasized that it has always been about the greater good.