Life and times of Rakesh Jhunjhunwala — the man behind the trader

Life and times of Rakesh Jhunjhunwala — the man behind the trader
  • With the passing away of Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, India has lost its biggest champion.
  • He had been widely known for his investment strategies, but he was also one of the biggest philanthropists in the country.
  • Even while battling illness, he opened an eye hospital where 80% of surgeries would be carried out free of cost.
“When I became a billionaire in 2008, my father wasn’t interested in my net worth but in how much I was going to give away,” Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, India’s best known stock investor, had said nearly a decade ago. This is probably one of the reasons why Jhunjhunwala constantly endeavoured to strike the right balance between earning and giving back to the society.

The man, dubbed as India’s Warren Buffett, was so much more than an Indian stock market mogul. He has been among the country’s most notable philanthropists – he wanted to give away a fourth of his wealth within his lifetime. He did achieve the target last year as he donated 25% of his annual income towards charitable work focused on the education sector, according to Edelgive Hurun India Philanthropy list.

He donated approximately ₹13.69 lakh per day last year.

Jhunjhunwala passed away on Sunday morning, leaving a deep void. His stock picks had earned him a cult following, and his humble nature was praised by many. It was not long ago that Jhunjhunwala’s simple dressing sense became a source for many memes after his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Son of an income-tax officer, Jhunjhunwala never forgot his roots no matter how much wealth he had accumulated over the years. “I would be driving the same car and having the same food even with 85% less wealth than now. At heart, I’m pure middle-class. If I don’t go to the office for a few days, my wife starts asking why you are home,” India’s 36th richest man had said.


Jhunjhunwala stepped into philanthropy with St Jude, a free-of-cost shelter for underprivileged children battling cancer, which has helped over 31,262 children since its inception in 2006. His biggest charity was Agastya, which aims to impart knowledge of science to young students. Other than these, he also backed Ashoka University.

Friends and the beneficiaries of these organisations have also highlighted that Jhunjhunwala didn’t just believe in only signing a cheque, but was also actively involved in these causes.

The philanthropy didn’t end here. Even when he was battling health problems last year, Jhunjhunwala opened an eye hospital named after his father near Mumbai last June. The R Jhunjhunwala Sankara Eye Hospital follows a 20:80 model, where two in ten surgeries are subsidised for those who can afford it and the remaining eight are totally free of cost. The hospital is primarily built for patients from rural Maharashtra.

Jhunjhunwala was born on July 5, 1960, and grew up in a Rajasthani family in Bombay. He entered the stock market with just ₹5,000 in 1985. He amassed a fortune worth an estimated $5.8 billion (roughly ₹46,042 crore) in his life span.

His portfolio included 47 companies like Star Health, Titan, Canara Bank, Indian Hotels Company, Nazara Technologies and Tata Motors at the end of June. He also had holdings in Tata Communications, Bilcare, Federal Bank and Aptech.

His latest venture was an airline – Akasa Air, which took its maiden flight exactly a week before his death on August 7. A Chartered Accountant by qualification and training, he was 62 and is survived by his wife Rekha and three children.

“Rakesh Jhunjhunwala was indomitable. Full of life, witty and insightful, he leaves behind an indelible contribution to the financial world,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday.

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