Rakesh Jhunjhunwala: “How Can We Be Lower Than the Lady? We Have To Beat Her”
Maya M 25 June 2021
In an example of how deeply ingrained misogyny is in the Indian system, billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala asked the management of Jubilant Pharmova: “How can we be lower than the lady? We have to beat her,” in a slighting reference to well-known entrepreneur and industrialist Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and her company Syngene.
 
This happened during a public interaction on an analyst conference call held on 18th June when ace stock picker Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, whose 6.3% investment valued at Rs745 crore makes him one of the key shareholders in Jubilant Pharmova, was interacting with the company management. 
 
Referring to the contract manufacturing business, which gives Jubliant Pharmova a 35% margin on its Rs 306 crore turnover, Mr Jhunjhunwala asked, “Am I right in assuming that this business is some part of what Syngene is doing…is it similar?” The management  responded affirmatively. 
 
Mr Jhunjhunwala pointed out that it was highly scalable and Syngene had a good turnover and profitability because of this. 
 
The management explained how they are different from Syngene, to which Jhunjhunwala asked how many people are employed in that business (850 people going up to 1,000 in the coming fiscal said the management) and Mr Jhunjhunwala sought a comparison with Syngene (around 3,000 to 4,000 he was told).
 
It is at this point that Mr Jhunjhunwala said, “How can we be lower than the lady sir? We have to beat her.” 
 
This was immediately followed by loud laughter on the conference call – which is largely a men’s club. Yet another of those back-slapping boys’ locker room moments in the Indian financial world. 
 
This is not the first time Jhunjhunwala has made a sexist comment. A few months back, Mr Jhunjhunwala, who admittedly loves to gamble dished out advice to his followers in politically incorrect terms. He compared share trading to a mistress and longer-term investing to a wife, and recommended that investors should keep both happy.
 
A few people later on called out the misogyny; many termed it as 'lighthearted banter' or actively applauded him saying 'his comments are a class apart'. But what is dismissed as ‘banter’ is exactly at the core of gender stereotyping and is reflected in the negative, abusive comments and dismissive attitude towards women in business and finance. It is metaphorical and continues to create barriers for all women and even the successful ones who have stormed past the glass ceiling constantly have their achievements derided and coloured with suspicion and abuse. The impact is best seen on the boards of companies where there is a drought of truly independent women directors.
 
Of the top-100 BSE companies in India, 91 have only one woman as a director. Most often, these are drawn from a fixed pool or related to the promoter group. 
 
The Biocon chief Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is no stranger to misogynous comments. Last November, in a free wheeling interview, she shared how, over the years she took on sexism head-on and fought gender bias. She once said that women should forget all about criticism because it is always going to be there. 
 
Last September when the parliament opened to begin the monsoon session, finance minister (FM) Nirmala Sitharaman became the target of Indian men’s ingrained misogyny when a member attacked her appearance while trying to take a potshot at the state of India’s economy.
 
While male politicians have to protect against criticism for their statements and their actions — but someone like Sitharaman has to defend their ‘domestic’ roles of ‘mother’,‘sister’ or ‘aunty’ because these are the positions India’s patriarchal society has designated for them. While the economy might be an issue, the personal barbs and venom directed at the FM were below the belt.
 
Another form of misogyny is ‘mansplaining’ – where men assume that women who are experts in their respective fields don’t know what they are talking about and feel the need to explain their comments.
 
In 2008, author Rebecca Solnit’s now famous essay, Men Explain Things to Me, had set off a firestorm. Countless women had their own stories to recount about how something would have been condescendingly explained to them in their own field of expertise.
 
Closer home, we have seen plenty of such stories and many women rant about  such experiences on social media too.
 
Aditi Puthran summed it succinctly on Twitter, “on a deep level there is this tendency to mirror behaviours at home even in the corporate world. It sounds very primitive, but most men who haven't grown up around assertive female role models tend to be shocked by and resist women who are more qualified than them”.
 
 
Wall Street veteran Sallie Krawcheck, a former CEO of wealth management at Citibank and former CEO of Smith Barney investment advisers, also revealed that venture capitalists interested in her new financial investment venture Ellevest mansplained financial advising to her.  She admitted that she faced decades of finance mansplaining.
 
Research shows that women only speak for 25% of the time in meetings, while men speak for the remaining 75%. Men not only share ideas more, they interrupt women more often than they do other men. 
 
Mr Jhunjhunwala’s comment in the context of a self-made, successful entrepreneur like Ms Mazumdar-Shaw, only goes on to show that the more things appear to change, the more they remain the same. 
 
Comments
naveen.binu
4 months ago
Another article written just for the heck of it. Clearly there is only one woman in reference here. What's she problem with saying "the lady". Had he said "a lady" then that would have been a problem.
cerebralcrus
4 months ago
Instead of educated illiterate please read qualified illiterate*
cerebralcrus
4 months ago
Writer's bruised ego and poisonous mentality toward gentlemen is clearly reflected in this blog.

Such type of educated illiterate writers do not respect even their father just because he is a male

Shame on such so called western minded mental slaves
deshmukharu67
4 months ago
Attitudes towards women can be changed only by behaviour at home and in school.Money and success does not educate the mind.
silloomarker
4 months ago
All the money in the world will not be enough to change some men's attitude towards smarter women.
Light yagami
4 months ago
Why does this sound sooo much like its written by a pseudo feminist? Why hasn't he filed a defamation case against u?
huzeff44
4 months ago
He things he is very intelligent.He shouldn't have said this.His followers might pick up the same .
naveenk8000
4 months ago
Another of those low brow articles who find controversy in every way.seems the people who object to his remarks flunked in English in school ????????????
Urchinsa
4 months ago
i found the comment to be in poor taste. let's face it, if raju koibhi had said the same thing, wld it have been so acceptable? and wld so many ppl hv tried to explain it away? if u need to use gender to drive in the msg abt poor performance then u need a soft skills course! mind you, a few weeks back, high court judges (exact words may vary) said the old had lived their lives, keep med treatment for the young and there wasn't a peep abt it in the media. so let's not fool ourselves abt being a civilised socy
joana1999d
4 months ago
Sorry, but aren't you 'womansplaining' things here? He was just egging on the management to do better - he recognises her as competitor. Sorry to get into grammar but there is a difference between beaten by 'a lady' and 'the lady'. Maybe you should notice it instead of ranting.
vivekg2894
4 months ago
It can also be looked in a way that he is acknowledging the fact that he is being beaten by a lady
aditya2025
4 months ago
Is it lower than 'a' lady or lower than 'the' lady? Why are there both in your article? You have to report
such things clearly.
pgodbole
4 months ago
I am not sure but in a room full of women, I guess such 'lighthearted banter' against men would be normal. Take for example recent television ads where two women are discussing features of 'Cars24' promos!
jayaramnagamangala
Replied to pgodbole comment 4 months ago
You are right.I have been watching this ad and really feel there is deliberate attempt to insult men recently un many ads.Why men are keeping quite?A strong protest should be made against car24 company.
punitsjain
4 months ago
Note that 1) the woman in question was not in the room, so it was not an attempt to insult or belittle her 2) it was an effort to egg this management on to do better, by a shareholder, using all means at his disposal 3) the other examples of RJ while being crude, are well intentioned, he was trying to explain an important point. Which you perhaps missed.
There is bias against women, you may have to look elsewhere for it .....
pramodkjoshi
Replied to punitsjain comment 4 months ago
This is a classic example of mansplaining away an attitude at worst, and errors of judgment at best! Just saying. :p
tyagiprakrit
Replied to pramodkjoshi comment 4 months ago
Just noticing that this is an example of gender stereotyping ...You said mansplaining what if i said womensplanning in some other context.
rpb27.rajat
4 months ago
In any case, the editor of MoneyLife has a penchant for playing a spoilsport when it comes to the Stock Markets...since 1993.

This is another example of how a comment has been blown out of proportion by a Financial Magazine that is just a Leftist Femninazi to the core. I don't think such comments in closed rooms deserved to be blown up in such a manner.

Madam, please focus on the Scams rather than writing such articles.
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