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Family Incorporated

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In India, as well as the world, few business families manage to stay together after the third generation. Differences in ideas, visions and ambitions as well as abilities see the families splitting — sometimes amicably and sometimes bitterly — and different siblings going their separate ways. In that sense, the family business that Jamnalal Bajaj founded can be considered quite unique. It has survived largely intact till the third generation, and now hopes to continue in the same way in the fourth generation as well.

Largely intact because while the majority of the family — Rahul Bajaj and his three cousins, Shekhar, Madhur and Niraj — have stayed united with Rahul being considered the head of the family, Shishir Bajaj (Rahul's brother) and his son Kushagra moved out with two erstwhile Bajaj group companies after a well-publicised seven-year spat.

The third generation of the Bajaj family — Rahul and his cousins — is a great believer in family values and joint celebrations. They believe this has been the key to their remaining united. The fact that all the cousins had no issues accepting Rahul as the head of the family helped in no small measure. Also, with every family member having at least one company or business to run, conflicts were kept at the minimum.

Will this state of affairs continue as the next generation takes charge? Rahul and his cousins would like it to. But the fourth generation has several strong personalities with very distinct views, and it might be too much to expect all of them to accept one person as the undisputed leader of the family. Rahul was the head of the family in the third generation, but can Rajiv play that role in the fourth?

All the members of the Bajaj family met senior assistant editor Nevin John to share their views on how they have stayed together so far,  and why they think they can manage to do so for the next couple of years even without a formal legal family constitution.

Meanwhile, the annual exercise conducted by the Institute For Competitiveness, MDI, Gurgaon, to see how India's premier cities compare with each other in terms of various parameters has been completed. Read our special report on the City Competitiveness study on page 46.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 13-12-2010)