“You should look for virtues in others and try to emulate them. Observe their vices and have the determination not to have them.”
Speaking of a lawyer who is in the topnotch bracket but has still not lost the common touch leads us to Ram Niranjan Jhunjhunwala. He is a man who enjoys confidence with everybody- big or small, rich or poor. As per him “humility is something with which you can win the world.”
“Listen to what others have to say, give them importance. It is not always about you,” are his mantras for life. Perhaps it is for this reason that his alma mater St. Xavier’s School and College are still home to him. “I wish I can keep coming back here,” are his words as he talks of his memories. Even the school faculty recognizes his love for the institution. In fact, he is always happy to handle cases for the school pro bono.
Jhunjhunwala’s lineage can be traced back to Rajasthan. It was his great grandfather who moved to Deogarh in Jharkhand from Rajasthan in 1942. It was only in 1960 that he came to Kolkata and undertook a Bachelors Degree in Commerce at St.Xaviers. By then, his brother Sita Ram Jhunjhunwala was already well established, an eminent solicitor and partner of Khaitan & Co.
Talking of his brother, Jhunjhunwala says, “My brother was a man of vision and ambition. He was an authority on company law and a roaring lawyer.”
To learn the nuances of the firm’s dealings, he started going to the firm after his college got over at 9.30 in the morning.
Initially, Jhunjhunwala had no inclination towards law. In fact when he was in high school he was keen to do medicine. “Those days I used to see lawyers go around in bicycles chewing paan – only the rejected lot took up law,” says he, sharing his reasons for his apathy. It was at the insistence of his eldest brother and Jhunjhunwala family’s godfather, legendary solicitor B.P.
Khaitan, that he took up law. His brilliance in law was apparent right since the onset of his career, as he topped all the three Attorney-at-Law Examinations of the Calcutta High Court, securing the highest ever marks in the final Attorney-ship examination in the High Court’s 125 year history, a record which stands till date.
Having started practice in 1966, he is a Senior Partner of Khaitan & Co., Advocates, Solicitors, Notaries, Patent & Trademark Attorneys. Talking of the firm he says, “At Khaitan & Co. we don’t believe in mass production but in class production.”
Jhunjhunwala himself is considered to be an expert in the legal world in the matters pertaining to arbitration, intellectual property, commercial laws, constitution, industrial relations, court litigations, environment, and education.
He attributes his success to the 8 Ds. As per him, “These are determination, discipline, dedication, devotion, disciplined determination, determined discipline, dedicated devotion, devoted dedication!” He is also one who wants to share this wealth of knowledge. Hence, he has instituted several endownment scholarships in NLSIU Bangalore, NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, NUJS Kolkata and two in Ramkrishna Mission Vidyapeeth, Deoghar, among other institutions. In addition to these he also runs four charitable trusts wherein help is provided to patients requiring pacemakers and dialysis as also to accident victims.
Married to Chanda from Birbhum, Purulia, he has a daughter named Jayshree, who studied law from South Calcutta Law College, and son Rabindra, who studied in NLSIU Bangalore and is now a partner in Khaitan & Co.’s Mumbai office.
A man who enjoys his independence, JhunJhunwala says he loves to drive. His reason is simple: “I believe driving is an art as it requires good assessment and quality judgment to be a good driver.”
Quite a swimming enthusiast, there is not a single day in a year when he does does not swim in his favourite club. Yoga is also very much part of his daily activities.
Jhunjhunwala is a man who gives no importance to ego and says, “You should look for virtues in others and try to emulate them. Observe their vices and have the determination not to have them.” It is belief in thoughts like these that have led him to the top. Hopefully they will be emulated by others.
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