Bajaj Auto has, like most others in the auto industry, has closed its production operations. But Managing Director Rajiv Bajaj, in an email interview to Surajeet Das Gupta, gives his contrarian views on the complete lockdown the government has imposed. Edited excerpts:
What do you think are the best- and the worst-case scenarios for two-wheelers? What is your view on the lockdown?
The best-case scenario is eight weeks of disruption. Nobody knows what the worst is. When 99.9 per cent of the most vulnerable are above 65, I see no logic in this sweeping lockdown in a country in which 94 per cent are below 65. We should have kept the seniors home, closed public spaces, and allowed the rest of us to keep life moving forward.
Do you see demand returning after the lockdown is lifted? How do you see growth for this year, and how much will it be affected?
It is bound to be a slow and strained recovery.
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Does the industry have to reduce its workforce? What are the other ways of trimming its sails?
The smaller ones, which employ the majority of the workers, will not be able to sustain this onslaught. The bigger ones can hold out for a while. The most sensible thing to do would be to recalibrate this unnecessary lockdown as soon as possible.
How are you planning to support your dealers, component suppliers, and the distribution system, which are going through severe crises?
We can do little other than support, to the best of our ability, dealers with interest-free credit and suppliers with payments. That is our plan.
How are you addressing the export market because a large percentage of your sales comes from abroad and that those markets are also impacted?
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All exports have come to a standstill owing to this arbitrary lockdown.
What are the lessons from this on the way one should do business after this?
The same, timeless wisdom: Stay focused. Conserve your resources and ignore the herd mentality. Keep building herd immunity in your business and in yourselves.