'I AM A STRONG BELIEVER IN CASH FLOWS'
Business Today|October 31, 2021
THE BIG BULL OF the Indian markets, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, has had a mixed year. Even as the billionaire investor battled significant health issues including a debilitating bout of Covid-19, the performance of his stock portfolio has been nothing short of stellar.
Udayan Mukherjee

And while he scoffs at new-age trading favorites such as Bitcoin and Zomato, it hasn’t stopped him from a daring foray into the skies with his upcoming budget airline, Akasa Air. In a freewheeling chat with BT’s Global Business Editor Udayan Mukherjee, Jhunjhunwala explains why he remains the staunchest bull on Dalal Street. Edited excerpts:

UM: With 60,000 done and dusted on the Sensex, do you think there are even greater summits ahead for us in the months to come before this bull market tires out?

RJ: Well, my personal opinion is that 60,000 is just a figure. ‘Dil hai ki manta nahi, bazaar hai ki rukta nahi [The heart never agrees and the market never stops]’. We are seeing the largest ever bull run in India. India is changing and very few people are recognizing this change. I believe the market is reading the future better than we are. Despite all the skepticism, the Nifty has moved from 7,500 to nearly 18,000, so corrections will come and go. It’s all part of the journey. The day I came to the market, the Sensex was 159.99, today it is 60,000.

So, I think tens of thousands will be added, many zeros will be added—but it is going to take time.

UM: You have seen so many bull runs in the past and the biggest one that I remember is 2003-08—the one that just kept on going and the index multiplied several times. Could we be in for that kind of a run or do you see this one being somewhat different?

RJ: I feel we will see that kind of a bull run but it is going to take more time. It may not happen in the same time period, it may take five or even 10 years. We also had this kind of a bull run in 1989, when the Sensex went from 400 to 4,000. Of course, the last 1,000 points were Mr [Harshad] Mehta’s contribution and it didn’t last.

I believe India is progressively changing and the change gets more accentuated with time. Also, remember that in the last 10 years, we have really not gone anywhere. The Nifty did 12,000 in between 2012 and 2020, but always fell back and there was no breadth that time. Now we are seeing tremendous breadth in the market.

India has changed—in terms of the corporate sector, GST, and farm laws. For me, the farm law means that potatoes that are not saleable in West Bengal at ₹3 per kg, are available in Mumbai at ₹40 a kg! I guess nobody has read the Electricity Bill [Electricity Amendment Bill 2021 to delicense power distribution] and when that law passes, it is going to be bigger than even the 1991 reforms. Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi is pushing these economic reforms through because he knows if India does not change, his legacy cannot be changed.

What I find most appealing in India is that this change is coming with social needs being fulfilled. People do not appreciate what ‘Nal Se Jal’ means. Every household in India will have clean water. People walk six kilometers to get a bucket of water. The aim is that every Indian should get water in their house.

My domestic help is able to get a passport because of Jan Dhan. People can now send money to their hometown and do video calls with their children. I think we must be the most digitised society in the world.

With the help of Aadhaar, my help was able to get a passport.

Rajiv Gandhi [former Prime Minister] said only 15 paisa (out of a rupee) of social welfare funds actually reaches the poor, but now it is closer to 85 paisa.

People are not recognising the change that is underway.

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