Looking to cash in on the patriotic fervour on Republic Day, Bajaj Motorcycles teased its new bike Bajaj V, which will reportedly be “forged from the invincible metal of the 1971 Indo-Pak war hero INS Vikrant”.
INS Vikrant was India’s first aircraft carrier commissioned in 1961. Though originally constructed as HMS Hercules for the British Royal Navy for participation in the World War II, the construction of the ship could not be completed before the end of the war. Eventually, the Indian government bought the ship in 1957 and the then Prime Minister inducted it into naval services on November 3, 1961.
The aircraft carrier had a coloured life and participated in the 1961 liberation of Goa from the Portuguese and also changed the course of the 1971 war by enforcing a naval blockade of East Pakistan, which later led to the formation of Bangladesh. The warship guarded the seas around India for 36 years before it was finally decommissioned in 1997.
After the Navy expressed its inability to maintain INS Vikrant as a museum, as originally planned, it was sold as scrap to the highest bidder — Abdul Zaka of ship-breaking company IB Commercial for Rs 60 crore. It was bittersweet for many naval servicemen to see their beloved warrior ship reduced to a heap of metal.
Vice-admiral (retd) IC Rao, who served onboard INS Vikrant as a chief engineer in 1975-76, had said after the auction: “I will keep complaining about the lack of public spiritedness, value of history and misgovernance. We sold our nation’s pride for a mere Rs 60 crore.”
Striking a chord with millions of Indians on the 67th Republic Day, Bajaj launched a spirited video campaign with a few hints and flashes of the upcoming Bajaj V.
“We at Bajaj were determined to not allow history to fade away into oblivion. So we took INS Vikrant’s metal, melted it and gave it a new face,” the voiceover says, stirring patriotic feelings in the viewer.
From the silhouette, the bike looks like a classic motorcycle with alloy wheels and a short saddle, and a special INS Vikrant logo will be engraved on the tank. Bajaj hopes national pride will push consumers to not miss the unique opportunity to own a piece of Indian naval history.
Bajaj Motorcycles will launch Bajaj V on February 1, ahead of the Delhi Auto Expo 2016, alongside three other bikes.