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The Foundation

Kamalnayan Bajaj

Kamalnayan Bajaj

Kamalnayan Bajaj had the privilege of being raised under the shadow of three great souls - his father Jamnalal Bajaj, mentor Mahatma Gandhi and teacher Vinoba Bhave. And he did them proud. He assigned Jamnlalji's personal assets including his share in the joint family property to a public charitable trust, staying true to Gandhiji's theory of trusteeship.

Kamalnayanji was an original thinker and a person of contrasting traits. He was a capitalist with a social outlook and a politician with a conscience. He fought against the shackles of the British Raj while simultaneously consolidating his business enterprises. He fuelled the industrialisation of free India and was the spirit behind her quest for self reliance.

In spite of his preoccupation with business and politics, Kamalnayanji did his substantial bit for life-altering causes like education, medical care and famine and flood relief. He even found time to promote art, literature, culture and Ayurveda.

Kamalnayan Bajaj is remembered not only as a philanthropist and sharp businessman, but also as a multi-faceted human being.

 

Some Tributes to Kamalnayan Bajaj on his Birth Centenary in 2015

Grieved to learn of the demise of Kamalnayan Bajaj, a nationalist to the core and an eminent son of an illustrious father, know how you and Mrs. Shriman Narayan will be feeling about this calamity. My respectful condolences to you both and other members of the family.
- V.V. Giri, President of India


Deeply grieved to learn of the sudden passing away of Shri Kamalnayan Bajaj.
- G.S. Pathak, Vie-President of India


To say that I was shocked and grieved to hear on the radio today that Kamalnayan was found dead lying on the ground, does not express my grief in real and adequate terms. I feel that Jamnalaji has died a second death, plunging us all, who enjoyed his affection, in utmost grief.
India has lost a very good and worthy son in the most pre-mature demise of Kamalnayan.
What words can express Janki Devi’s great grief? She knows my identification with her family.
- C. Rajagopalachari


This is a personal blow to me and Prabhavati and a great loss to the public and business life of the country. May the ideals that he and his family upheld guide others in the field of politics, national service, education and business.
- Prabhavati and Jayaprakash Narayan


He was a fearless freedom fighter, great patriot and progressive industrialist.
- Khandubhai Desai, Governor, Andhra Pradesh


India has lost one of the best Gandhian industrialists.
- Premlila Thackersey


I deeply sympathize with you in your bereavement both because of his participation in public life and because of his being Jamnalalji’s son. I am greatly upset by his death. He was a staunch follower, like his father, of Gandhiji and was well-known for his public activities among educated people in the country.
- H.N. Kunzru


I am extremely shocked and grieved to learn about the sad and sudden demise of Kamalnayanji. He was a fearless freedom fighter, a great patriot and a progressive industrialist.
- Morarji Desai


My heart is full of sorrow and in my mind there are so many memories of happy times spent in your house. Kamalnayan, of all your family, was specially close to me and I grieve with you at his untimely end. The country has lost a real patriot and devoted worker.
- Vijayalakshmi Pandit


Country has lost a veteran fighter for high principles and your organizations a devoted guide.
- C. B. Gupta,


In the sudden death of Shri Kamalnayan Bajaj we have lost an uncommon man with rare qualities. Those who had the good fortune of being closely associated with him will bear testimony to what a gem of a man he was. His death is a great national loss. With all his wealth and big name, Shri Kamalnayan always lived an exemplary life of simplicity and dedication. He stuck to his principles and under no circumstances would make a compromise with them no matter what happened to his business and industry. He was fearless champion of the poor and the down-trodden.
- S.K. Patil


The country has lost a courageous, philanthropic, patriotic lovable soul.
- U.N. Dhebar


Kamalnayanji’s unexpected death creates a void in many sectors of activity which it will be difficult to fill.
- Jagjiwan Ram, Minister of Defence, Government of India


Shocked to learn of sad and untimely death of Kamalnayanji. May God give you courage and fortitude to bear this irreparable loss. Please accept my heartfelt sympathies and condolences.
- Umashankar Dikshit, Minister of Health, Government of India


He was a man of robust common sense and considerable courage, who did not shirk from stating his views and opinions clearly and positively even if they did not suit the inclination of the particular person or persons to whom he was talking. There can be no doubt that it was a result of his dedication to work that the industries in which the family was interested during the last twenty years came up quickly and command such a reputation in our country.
I shall miss him greatly. It is always good to have friends like Kamalnayan who can talk their mind so frankly and bluntly because they have the confidence that such frankness and bluntness, however critical it may be, will not impair the long friendship of many decades.
India is poorer in his passing away and I mourn, along with all members of his family, the departure of a good, honest and upright soul who put before himself all his life the object of service to our country and to our people.
- S. Mohan Kumaramangalam, Minister of Steel & Mines, Government of India


While his illustrious father’s contribution to the country’s freedom struggle was great and glorious, Kamalnayanji’s contribution after Independence, particularly in the field of industry, was also great. In his death, the country has lost a loyal Gandhian and a progressive industrialist.
- V. P. Naik, Chief Minister, Maharashtra


In the death of Kamalnayan Bajaj, the country has lost not only a prominent leader in the field of industry and commerce, but also a sincere worker. He had rendered significant services in the political, social, cultural and educational fields.
- Ghanshyam Oza, Chief Minister, Gujarat


He came from a family of patriots and participated in the freedom movement from his very boyhood. He acquitted himself well in the post-independence era, as a politician, businessman and industrialist. His death is a great loss to the country.
- Kedar Pandey, Chief Minister, Bihar


The country loses a fine man and a patriot.
- Sadiq Ali


Great loss to Gandhi family.
- Lakshmi Gandhi


I know him for many years and was well aware of his devoted adherence to Gandhian ideals in his business as well as personal life. In him the country has lost a courageous patriot and a man of character and integrity.
- J.R.D. Tata


I will not forget all your dear husband has done in building up the light business in India and our ties of friendship during so many years. God will take care of him.
- Frits Philips, Eindhovan (Holland)


He was one of the finest men I have known and was universally respected and loved.
- A.K. Sen


We had known each other for a long time and had considerable affection for each other. His passing away will leave a void which it would not be possible to fill.
- Dharma Vira


His premature death has been a great loss to the nation and much greater loss to your family and his innumerable friends and admirers like me. To me he was a brother, friend, philosopher and guide, all in one. Along with him something valuable in me has died and I am left forlorn forever.
- B. B. Borkar


A distinguished son of an illustrious father, Seth Jamnalal Bajaj his early period was spent under the guidance and inspiration of Gandhiji and other freedom-fighters. Those of us who sat with him in this House know how quiet, gentle and affable he was. An able parliamentarian, he used to take active part in the proceedings of the House, particularly on educational, cultural and industrial problems.
- G. S. Dhillon, Speaker, Lok Sabha


My family came in close contact with his father, Seth Jamnalal Bajaj, through Mahatma Gandhi in the early twenties. Since then I have known Kamalnayanji as well as the other members of his family. For some time, we were at the same school in Bombay.
He took a prominent part in the nationalist movement even in his student years and his interest in politics was deep.
He was connected with many organizations and had a large number of friends all over India and also abroad.
A familiar figure has departed from our public life and we shall miss him greatly.
- Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister


I have always enjoyed the banter we used to constantly indulge in, never agreeing on any subject at all. I must admit that in all the moments we have had together, there was always considerable laughter and give and take.
- Piloo Mody


The name of Bajaj has an honoured place in the political and commercial worlds of India, and, to his many friends, the sudden death of Kamalnayan Bajaj last week was grievous news.
He was a son of the late Jamnalal Bajaj who was close to the Mahatma and who might fittingly be described as his purse keeper.
More cosmopolitan than his distinguished father, Kamalnayan was devoted to the family’s high social traditions and their sense of service.
Apart from his business activities, he was greatly interested in social welfare to which he lent the stimulus of his knowledge, concern and support. For some years he was a member of the Lok Sabha.
Urbane in manner, Kamalnayan was unselfish, devoted friend who did much good to many people in his quiet, unostentatious way.
- ‘Aerial’ in Sunday Standard


Scion of a wealthy family, a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, an industrial leader who thought big and thrice a Member of Parliament – any one of these positions earned for Mr. Kamalnayan Bajaj the right to a public image and all the frills that went with it. The greatness of Kamalnayan Bajaj was that he leaned on none of these aspects of his life’s work to project himself into the lime-light. Instead, he preferred to live as he died, unobtrusively.
A Cambridge tripos with economics as his major, Mr. Bajaj had early insight into the impracticability of a throwback to the village economy of an earlier age. He deferred to the ideals of Gandhiji, but it was a deference tempered with the logic of reality. When the Bajaj family expanded its industrial activity by going in for collaboration for some sophisticated manufacturers, Mr. Kamalnayan Bajaj was effectively associated with the move. But he drew a line in any compromise with his Gandhian thought. It was largely under his influence that the family never entered the cotton textiles sector which threatened to undermine Khadi, or produced alcohol for consumption at their Hindusthan Sugar factory. The same “this far, no further” spirit informed his other activities also. He was an active politician, a freedom fighter who participated in the famed Dandi march but not an aggressive one, which was necessary to earn high offices. In charity, he was a quiet giver.
Mr. Kamalnayan Bajaj was a deeply religious man. What he forbade was the fanfare of rituals. Is that why death snatched him in the quiet of the small hours of the morning with none to grieve over his last moments of life? It may look cruel to those who love or admire him, but in this event seems to lie the seal of recognition of a wholesome way of life.
- Financial Express, Bombay


Shri Kamalnayan Bajaj was in many ways an unusual and extraordinary person. He was the scion of a rich family, not a newly rich one but a rich one for generations because even his grandfather was in commerce. He had all the wealth that a man could desire at his feet, but he chose to lead a humble and austere life. His living room was a model of simplicity and had no gadgets or frills to advertise that he had been abroad many times.
Though Shri Bajaj did not get any academic degrees, like Ph.D or D.Sc., he had a razor-shop financial mind and uncanny financial wizardry. Those who watched his interventions in the Parliament in debates on finance or in discussions in the Finance Consultative Committees knew that he was no demagogue and that he knew his subject as well as the experts of the Finance Ministry. He had developed a deliberate and incisive manner of speaking and was a forceful intervener in Parliamentary debates.
It is to his credit that not a word of disrespect to anybody fell from his lips either in private conversation or in public speaking. He had a great sense of humanity about him and we have seen him ask a humble worker to sit next to him in a chair and talk to him about the former’s woes. Though he was a Gandhian in his outlook and had a Sewagram mind, he believed in modern technology and western methods of industrialization.
He had a good deal of drive and intuitive sense of financial operations and it is a pity that the numerous restrictions which have been imposed by the Acts of Parliament on the growth of enterprise prevented him from doing more for his country than what he could. As a farseeing industrialist he could compete with the captains of industries not only in India but also those in foreign countries with this difference that he did not have their arrogance, love of luxuries and an attachment to the benefits of an affluent society.
Shri Bajaj was Chairman of the Hitavada Trust and its Managing Trustee. He had declared to the workers of the “Hitavada” in October 1970 that the journal would continue its independent policy, and he kept the assurance that he gave to the Editor that he would never interfere with his discretion or editorial independence. He never did even once, and kept his word.
- A. D. Mani, Editor, Hitavada


In the sad and sudden demise of Mr. Kamalnayan Bajaj, the country has lost a leading businessman and industrialist, a parliamentarian of considerable standing, an active social worker, an ardent nationalist and, above all, a true Gandhian. He was the worthy son of a worthy father, Mr. Jamnalal Bajaj, and the various phases of his public life were but a legacy of his father. While Mr. Kamalnayan Bajaj took active part in various spheres of service to the people and the country like his father, he was also successful in contributing his share to the industrial development of the country in his own way.
Mr. Kamalnayan Bajaj dedicated himself to the Congress Party and, as one given to ideological stand, he stayed with Old Congress till his end.
He was one of the freedom fighters, having begun at the early age of 16 in the famous Dandi March – Salt Satyagraha. It is a matter of memorable significance that his mortal remains have been cremated near Gandhiji’s Sabarmati Ashram.
- Nagpur Times