With a net worth of $5.8 billion, among India’s richest men; India’s Warren Buffett, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala passed away recently at the age of 62. He was popular as the ‘Big Bull of Dalal Street’, but he preferred to call himself a middle-class billionaire. His success story has already inspired millions and will continue to do so for a long time. Remembering him, PM Modi tweeted, “Rakesh Jhunjhunwala was indomitable. Full of life, witty and insightful, he leaves behind an indelible contribution to the financial world.
He was also very passionate about India’s progress. His passing away is saddening. My condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti.” Born to an Income Tax officer, his interest in stocks began at a young age when his father would be discussing the subject with his friends. Being an avid learner, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala quickly grasped the art and the technical skills needed for succeeding in the field. However, his father, who gave him a free hand in choosing a career, asked him to secure a professional degree before embarking on stock trading full time.
Thus, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala secured a professional qualification of a Chartered Accountant. Thereafter, there was no going back. His father shared his advice with him but not his money. He asked him to make investments with his own savings and earnings. With a meagre amount of Rs. 5,000, Jhunjhunwala started his eponymous journey into the stock markets. What began with thousands transformed into billions! Rakesh Jhunjhunwala was both a trader and an investor. Early on, his strategy was simple: earn through trading and invest the gains in promising longer term stocks. He had an appetite for action as also the patience of a sage. His investments in Titan have lasted years.
Together with Crisil, as per an estimate, the two stocks make for 77 per cent of his net worth. His love for Tata group is seen from his holdings in Titan and Tata Motors. No wonder, these bets have paid off. Titan shares have climbed 655 per cent since August 2015 while Tata Motors have climbed 217 per cent since 2020 when those were acquired. But behind his successes were some failures too. And Jhunjhunwala never shied away from accepting those. He was never afraid of taking a loss, but wouldn’t allow it to get erased from his memory without learning valuable lessons.
Rakesh Jhujhunwala was bullish on India’s growth story and its future potential. “We have $1 trillion in savings and only 8 crore demat accounts.
Where will the money from the remaining 90 crore go?” said he in one of the interviews. Forbes called him “an incorrigible India optimist”. He believed India’s time had come, primarily because of the skillset of its population and the country’s favourable demographics with 66 percent of the total population below the age of 35 years.
Rakesh Jhujhunwala was a Modi fan and believed that the current Prime Minister’s continuation in the job was necessary for the high growth rate of the country because the latter understood business and was emphatic on reforms.
Despite earning billions, Rakesh never forgot his roots. He was always approachable, polite and one who answered his phone calls by himself.
He was a family man too, who loved spending time with his children and wife. Among the major influences in his life, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala would acknowledge that of his father and of Radhakishan Damani, the founder of DMart who is known to have given him the success mantra, “Be a tortoise, not a hare.” When Rakesh became a billionaire in 2008, his father was more keen on what he would give away than what he had accumulated. Therefore, Rakesh Jhujhunwala always wanted to share his vast fortune with the poor and the needy.
In an interview last year, he had exhibited a desire to allocate Rs. 5,000 crore towards charity through his RARE Family Foundation and to continue to build this fund to Rs. 25,000 crore. His desire was to work in the fields of nutrition, healthcare of children and even in the domain of sports, setting up academies for the underprivileged. Last year alone, he donated 25 percent of his income with an average of nearly Rs. 14 lakh per day.
Rakesh Jhujhunwala was a genius, a strategist in true sense and a man with a golden heart. India will miss him forever!