Rakesh Jhunjhunwala was a legendary Indian businessman, investor, and philanthropist who died in 2022. For his extraordinary success in the stock market, he was dubbed the "Big Bull of India" and the "Warren Buffett of India." He began his journey in 1985 with a modest capital of $5,000 and grew it to a staggering net worth of $5.8 billion by 2022. He served as chairman of Aptech and Hungama Digital Media Entertainment, as well as on the boards of several other companies. He also founded Akasa Air, a low-cost carrier. In 2023, he was awarded the Padma Shri, one of India's highest civilian honors, for his contributions to trade and industry.
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala had a humble childhood in a middle-class family. He was born in Hyderabad, but moved to Mumbai when he was two years old. His father was an income tax officer, and his mother was a housewife. He had an elder brother and two sisters. Rakesh developed an interest in the stock market from a young age, as he listened to his father and his friends discussing stocks. He started investing in stocks when he was in college, with his own savings. He completed his bachelor of commerce from Sydenham College and became a chartered accountant in 1985.
Jhunjhunwala's career can be divided into two phases: trading and investing.
Jhunjhunwala was an experienced trader who recognized opportunities and took calculated risks in a volatile market. In 1986, he made his first big profit of 5 lakh by buying and selling Tata Tea shares in three months. He then made multi-fold returns on investments in Sesa Goa, Reliance Industries, Hindustan Lever, BPL, and Hero Honda. He also traded derivatives and futures, and he used leverage to increase his profits. He was known for taking a contrarian approach, buying when others sold and selling when others bought. He had the fortitude to go against market sentiment and stake his claim on his beliefs. "I have no regrets about any decision I have ever taken." he once said.
Jhunjhunwala was also a long-term investor who believed in India's and its companies' growth potential. He applied value investing principles in his search for undervalued stocks with strong fundamentals and growth prospects. He held his positions for years or decades and profited from compounding. He once said, "I don't buy stocks for six months or one year. I buy them forever." Titan Company, Crisil, Lupin, Escorts, Rallis India, NCC, Delta Corp, MCX, Firstsource Solutions, Aptech, Geojit Financial Services, and Nazara Technologies were among his most successful investments. His portfolio included consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, information technology, education, gaming, financial services, infrastructure, hospitality, and aviation. He was also an active shareholder, engaging with the management of the companies in which he invested and providing strategic advice. He once said, "I don't invest in companies. I invest in people."
Jhunjhunwala was not only a successful investor, but also a generous philanthropist, donating a large portion of his fortune to various social causes. His philanthropic portfolio included health care and education-related initiatives, such as St Jude India ChildCare Centres (which provides free accommodation to children undergoing cancer treatment), Agastya International Foundation (which promotes science education among rural children), Ashoka University (which offers liberal arts education), Friends of Tribals Society (which runs schools for tribal children), and Olympic Gold Quest (which supports athletes undergoing cancer treatment), Pratham (which promotes universal primary education), GiveIndia (which connects donors with non-governmental organizations), Teach For India (which recruits young professionals to teach in low-income schools), and R J Sankara Eye Hospital (which provides free eye care to the poor) are some of the organizations involved. He also kept track of government spending on social welfare programs like MNREGA and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, and lobbied for better water management policies. He once said, "I want to give back to society what I have earned from it."
"I don't buy stocks for six months or one year. I buy them forever." ~ Rakesh Jhunjhunwala
"The markets are my passion, my obsession, and my love." ~ Rakesh Jhunjhunwala
"The biggest quest to learn anything is curiosity. If you are curious about something, you will go and dig." ~ Rakesh Jhunjhunwala
"Success should not make you think you are God's gift to mankind. You should never forget that you are what you are because God chose you to be there." ~ Rakesh Jhunjhunwala
"You cannot artificially curb gold imports beyond a point. But I am hopeful it will happen because the rupee depreciation should by itself lead to a large growth in exports and some compression of imports." ~ Rakesh Jhunjhunwala
"The biggest thing that limits India's growth is democracy, but it is needed. We cannot overrule it." ~ Rakesh Jhunjhunwala
"I want to give back to society what I have earned from it." ~ Rakesh Jhunjhunwala
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala was a foresighted investor, astute trader, and generous philanthropist who left an indelible mark on the Indian stock market and society. His rags-to-riches story, optimism, and generosity inspired millions of people. He was a role model for aspiring investors and entrepreneurs who wanted to make a difference while creating wealth. He once declared, "The markets are my passion, obsession, and love." He will go down in history as one of the greatest investors of all time.
"I have no regrets about any decision I have ever taken." ~ Rakesh Jhunjhunwala
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