When the Hindujas-run IndusInd Bank launched its ‘Choose Your Account Number’ scheme earlier this month, it had factored in the high demand for traditionally “lucky” sequences, but the rush for accounts adding up to Number 9 has the bank scrambling for ideas – and numbers.
Ritesh Raj Saxena, head of personal accounts at IndusInd Bank, says while its customer base rose 50%, about a quarter of the newbies demanded account numbers that added up to nine.
No. 9 rules, not just Mars but also Planet India Inc, says Pramod Chaudhari, founder chairman of Praj Industries, which supplies equipments to bio-ethanol producers. The 64-year-old has been partial to No. 9 ever since he found that his 11th standard examination hall ticket added to nine – his seat number was No. 9. And that was just the beginning.
A few years later, he scored Rank No. 117 at the IIT-JEE. “I noticed my luck during this exam,” says Chaudhari who completed his engineering degree from IIT Mumbai. When he began his own business with investments from blue-blooded investors such as Vinod Khosla and later from Tata group, No. 9 continued to be his lucky mascot – he even rewarded his shareholders with dividend payout that added to nine.
For the past three decades, Praj Industries announced dividend payout with percentage adding to No. 9, which is decided by its nine-member board.
It turns out, astrologically, No. 9 is quite a force to reckon with: apart from symbolising completeness, it is said to contain the energy of the previous eight numbers.
“Nine is a symbol of energy represented by Mars (Mangal), the red fiery planet human beings can see with their naked eyes,” says Sanjay B Jumaani, a Mumbai-based numerologist. whose clientele includes Bollywood stars, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar, and cricketers Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble.
“Khan and Kumar made bumper hit movies at age 45. Khan, born on December 27, and Kumar on December 9, broke collection records of Rs 300 crore,” says Jumaani. Man Infra MD Parag K Shah, 44, keeps count of all the ways in which his business has benefited from No. 9. His public issue was oversubscribed by 63 times at an issue price of Rs 252 a piece, with both numbers adding to nine. “It was a coincidence. The number of investors who applied to the offer added up to 9. In the past 20 years, I found nine lucky for me,” says Shah.
Well, Shah’s crush with No. 9 doesn’t end there. “I like to have my board meetings and shareholder meetings on dates which add up to 9. But sometimes the lack of availability of independent directors may push us to other dates,” he says.
And as if his point was not evident by now, he adds for good measure: “Right now, I am speaking to you from the 72nd floor of a tower in Dubai.” Shah is in fact a leading member of Club Nine whose other luminaries include leading corporate lawyer Berjis Desai, managing partner at JSA.
“The plot where my building is constructed is 9.” Staying true to his belief, he lives in flat number 81. Desai doesn’t mind driving the extra mile in the gridlock of Mumbai traffic – it appears that Mumbai has a geographical connect with his lucky number. “In Mumbai, the latitudinal and longitudinal axis comes to nine, which exerts a strong psychological and cosmic influence on human beings,” he says.
Such theories of cosmology find a ready audience among India’s realty mavens, who can’t seem get enough out of No. 9. “In the past seven years, we have won projects where we negotiated with a price adding to nine,” says Vinod Goenka, CMD of real estate-to-hotels group DB Realty.
‘”My fascination for nine started with my marriage in 1986 to Aseela, whose date of birth added to nine. Later, I got my car number 621 without asking for it.”
Now every price bid for his business adds to nine. He recalls an incident when he built a hotel near the Sahar International Airport in Mumbai. “I never planned to have the number of rooms adding to 9, but the keys added to 171,” says Goenka.
No surprise then that the likes of Chaudhari, Shah, Desai and Goenka share the same number plates for their luxury sedans. Chaudhari owns an Audi 8 series with 909 and a Skoda Superb with 1800, while Shah’s four cars – a BMW 7 series, Range Rover, Land Rover and Mercedes Mini Coupe have their registration numbers – 9800. Desai drives a grey BMW whose registration number adds to nine and Goenka’s trio of his Aston Martin Rapid series, BMW 7 series and Range Rover, all have registration numbers adding to 9.
While No. 9 has spelt success for so many entrepreneurs, here is a word of caution: “Nine is like a nuclear energy and overuse of the number can make one impulsive, rash, stubborn, obstinate and accident prone,” says Jumaani.
Hope Club Nine is listening.