Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Indian stock market giant and Akasa Air founder, dies

The stock market darling died merely a week after Akasa Air's first fight took off.
The bold "risk-taker."
The bold "risk-taker."
Image: Reuters (Reuters)
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Veteran Indian stock market investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala passed away in Mumbai today (Aug. 14). He was 62.

The founder of the country’s newest airline, Akasa Air, was often also known as India’s Warren Buffett and “big bull of Dalal Street.” He had reportedly been unwell for some time and had been discharged from Mumbai’s Breach Candy Hospital only a few weeks ago. He was treated there for kidney-related issues, NDTV reported.

This morning, his health deteriorated and he was taken back to the same hospital. He was, however, declared “brought dead” by doctors there. Hospital officials told CNBC TV-18 that the billionaire had suffered a cardiac arrest.

Political leaders like prime minister Narendra Modi and top businessmen like Gautam Adani and Uday Kotak expressed sorrow on Jhunjhunwala’s demise.

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.

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 14, 2022

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala: my school and college mate. One year my junior. Believed stock India was undervalued. He is right. Amazingly sharp in understanding financial markets. We spoke regularly, more so during Covid. Will miss you Rakesh!

— Uday Kotak (@udaykotak) August 14, 2022

At a meeting with Modi in New Delhi in October 2021, Jhunjhunwala had suggested that, by 2030, the country’s per capita income could exceed $6,000 per annum (It is around $1,150 today). “India ka time aa gaya (India’s time has come),” he had reportedly told the prime minister.

Who is Rakesh Jhunjhunwala?

Son of a tax officer, Jhunjhunwala flagged- off his legendary investing run with a mere $100 in 1985 in the Bombay Stock Exchange, now BSE. The exchange’s benchmark index Sensex was at 150 then; it now trades at over 59,000.

By August 2022, his net worth was estimated at $5.8 billion. In 2021, he was ranked 36th in Forbes’ richest Indians list.

Image for article titled Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Indian stock market giant and Akasa Air founder, dies
Illustration: Datawrapper

Jhunjhunwala was also the chairman of Aptech and Hungama Digital Media Entertainment and was on the boards of Prime Focus, Geojit Financial Services, Bilcare Limited, among other companies.

He last appeared in public—in a wheelchair—at the launch of Akasa Air on Aug. 7 in Mumbai. His foray into Indian aviation came at a time of deep crisis in the industry.

On being asked why he had taken the risk, the investor reportedly said, “It’s better to have tried and failed than not tried at all.”

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala at the launch of Akasa Air.
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala at the launch of Akasa Air.
Image: Akasa Air

Jhunjhunwala is survived by his wife and three children.