Lock, Stock & Legend: From Rs 5,000 to 46,000 Cr, Story of India's Biggest Bull

In 1985, the Sensex was at around 150 points. A man in his twenties entered the stock market with a sum of Rs 5,000.

3 min read

It was 1985. The Sensex was at around 150 points. A young man in his mid-twenties entered the stock market with a sum of Rs 5,000.

It is now 2022. The Sensex is over 59,000 points. And there is a net worth of over Rs 46,000 crore next to that man's name. He is a legend in the stock market, known the world over as India's Big Bull.

Yet, it is 2022 that would see his final foray into India's economic growth story. Because on the eve of the country completing 75 years of independence, and exactly a week after his airlines venture Akasa Air took to the skies, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, one of the country's most famed and fabled investors, has passed away.

Jhunjhunwala had been suffering from multiple health issues including kidney ailments. In the early hours of 14 August, he was brought to the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai and at 6:45 am, the 62-year-old was declared dead.


37 Years on Dalal Street To Become the 36th Richest Indian

On 7 August 2022, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala made the headlines because his airlines company Akasa Air had launched its first flight. That flight had taken off from Mumbai. As had Jhunjhunwala's meteoric rise to the stuff of stock market folklore.

Jhunjhunwala was born on 5 July 1960 in a Rajasthani family in what was then known as Bombay. His father worked as a Commissioner of Income Tax. Young Rakesh graduated from Sydenham College and then got himself enrolled at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.

But Jhunjhunwala would go on to choose Dalal Street over auditing accounts.

He earned his first big profit in 1986 when he bought 5,000 shares of Tata Tea at Rs 43 and the stock rose to Rs 143 within three months. In three years, he earned Rs 20-25 lakh.

In the decades that followed, over an investment career spanning 37 years, his bullish outlook would grant him the moniker of Big Bull, and his shrewd choices would make observers of the stock market refer to him as India's Warren Buffett.

With a net worth of around $5.8 billion, Jhunjhunwala was India's 36th richest individual, according to Forbes.

That White Shirt

"White shirt hai, woh toh crumple hoegi na, kya karenge? (It's a white shirt, it will get crumpled, what can I do?) I had got it ironed for 600 rupees, still it got crumpled. I toh go to office in my shorts, kya hai usmein? Koi customer nahi hai, koi client nahi hai, apne ko kya karna hai? (I don't have customers or clients, what else should I do?)"

That was Jhunjhunwala's response at the India Today Conclave, when he was asked about the crumpled state of his shirt in a photograph of him with PM Narendra Modi, which the prime minister had tweeted out.

Crumpled shirt or not, it was Jhunjhunwala's ace investorship that got him those plaudits from the prime minister. And those plaudits continued, even after his demise.

Delivering his condolences, Modi remarked that "Rakesh Jhunjhunwala was indomitable", that he was "full of life, witty and insightful", and that "he leaves behind an indelible contribution to the financial world."


The Man With the Midas Stock Choices

Jhunjhunwala's privately-owned stock trading firm Rare Enterprises derived its name from the first two letters of his name and that of his wife Rekha, who is also a stock market investor.

He was the chairman of Hungama Media and Aptech and sat on the board of directors of firms such as Viceroy Hotels, Concord Biotech, Provogue India and Geojit Financial Services.

But it was in the stock market where his contribution and role was larger than life. Millions of investors would look at his choices and investments, and listen to his advice on the business bulletins and news channels of the day to gauge where they should buy and what they should sell.

His recent portfolio included companies like Star Health, Titan, Rallis India, Escorts, Canara Bank, Indian Hotels Company, Agro Tech Foods, Nazara Technologies and Tata Motors.

At the end of the June 2022 quarter, he had a stake in 47 companies. Titan, Star Health, Tata Motors and Metro Brands were some of his largest holdings.

(With inputs from PTI)

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