He had an estimated net worth of $5.8 billion at the time of his death, according to Forbes, who called Jhunjhunwala an “investor with a Midas touch.” His latest venture, a low-cost airline called Akasa Air, started in India last week.
“We are deeply saddened by the untimely passing of Rakesh Jhunjhunwala this morning,” Akasa Air said in a statement on Sunday, praising the businessman’s “invincible spirit” and passion for “all things Indian”.
A cause of death was not immediately known. A member of Jhunjhunwala’s family told Reuters that the investor “has passed away surrounded by his family and close associates.” He is survived by his wife, Rekha Jhunjhunwala, and three children.
Local media reported that Jhunjhunwala was in poor health and appeared in a wheelchair at a launch event for Akasa Air last Sunday.
Indian politicians and business leaders expressed their condolences on the death of Jhunjhunwala. Many praised his efforts to educate people about stock trading, as well as his optimistic attitude about India and its economy.
“Rakesh Jhunjhunwala was indomitable”, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modic said. Full of life, witty and insightful, he leaves an indelible contribution to the financial world. He was also very passionate about India’s progress.”
“Investor, daring risk taker, masterful understanding of the stock market, clear in communication – a leader in his own right,” Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman wrote on Twitter.
In a 2021 interview with India’s Economic Times, Jhunjhunwala expressed confidence in India’s ability to surpass the world’s second largest economy, China. “You can call me a fool, you can call me anything, I may not live to see it, but I can tell you one thing: India will overtake China in the next 25 years,” he said.
Jhunjhunwala “believed India was undervalued. He’s right,” wrote Uday Kotak, a billionaire banker from India, who said he… went to school with Jhunjhunwala and described him as someone “amazingly keen in understanding financial markets.”
Jhunjhunwala was born in July 1960 and grew up in Mumbai. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Mumbai and later graduated from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.
His father was the Indian government’s income tax commissioner and advised Jhunjhunwala on investing, according to the Financial Express. Jhunjhunwala invested just $100 in the stock market as a 25-year-old college student, according to Forbes — eventually growing into a multi-billion dollar portfolio.
He was also a lover of Indian films and produced three Bollywood films between 2012 and 2016.
Indian market commentator Ajay Bagga told the BBC that Jhunjhunwala “personified the story of India” – “a young middle-class boy who stood up to build such a huge fortune.”