BAJAJ AUTO Managing Director Rajiv Bajaj on Thursday criticised the withdrawal of high value notes in November last year, saying the idea itself was “wrong” and it was incorrect to blame only the execution.
“If the solution or the idea is right, it will go like a hot knife through butter. If the idea is not working, for example demonetisation, don’t blame execution. I think your idea itself is wrong,” Bajaj said at the annual Nasscom Leadership Forum, in a rare public criticism of the move by a corporate chief.
WATCH VIDEO | Bajaj Auto MD Rajiv Bajaj Criticises Modi Government’s Demonetisation Move
Bajaj also took potshots at the government’s ‘Made in India’ initiative, saying regulatory agencies and government approvals would turn ‘Made in India’ into ‘Mad in India’. “If your innovation in the country depends on government approval or judicial process, it will not be a case of ‘Made in India’, but ‘Mad in India’. After five years, we are still waiting for permission to sell our four-wheeler in the country,” he said.
While the quadricycle is being sold across countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America, Bajaj wondered why a vehicle which is cleaner, fuel-efficient, safer and whose benefits are as “obvious as daylight”, is facing problems in India. “This is the only country that has not given us permission to sell this vehicle. Because, for some reason, it thinks if four-wheeler is worse, let people continue on three-wheeler,” he said.
On November 8, the government announced the withdrawal of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes in what it said was an attempt to check black money and corruption. The ban on total currency worth Rs 15.55 lakh crore in circulation impacted economic activity across sectors.
The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) recently said its impact can still be felt in the two-wheeler segment. “We expect a big revival in commercial segment in the next two months. The rural markets are deeply impacted by note ban and will take more time to recover,” it said. In January, two-wheeler sales registered a decline of 7.39 per cent compared to January last year, SIAM said.
During the period of demonetisation, sales of two-wheelers slid 22 per cent in December 2016, marking the highest monthly contraction after SIAM started recording the data since 1997. Bajaj Auto’s total domestic sales, including those of two-wheelers as well as three-wheelers, were down 16 per cent to 1,35,188 units in January from 1,61,870 units sold during the period last year.
Bajaj Qute, a four-wheeler, comes under a whole new category — the quadricycle. A quadricycle is a four-wheeled microcar seen mostly in Europe, with limitations in terms of weight, power and speed. It has the features of a three-wheeler as well as a car, with carbon emission of 66 g/km, which, when compared to other four-wheelers, is on the lower side. It can attain a speed of up to 70 kmph and a fuel consumption level of one litre for 36 kms.
Bajaj said his company is “anti-car”. “We feel people should either walk, cycle or use a two-wheeler. Cars are too big, too fast. they pollute, they congest and kill all of us on two-wheelers. People say two-wheelers are dangerous, My submission is two-wheelers are dangerous only when hit by a car,” he said.
— With PTI inputs