Star Power: India Inc seeks divine help
From lucky numbers to Tirupati visits, superstition & business go hand-in-hand
YES, India Inc is desperate. And Anil Ambani’s salary proves it. He took home Rs 43.43 crore as remuneration this year. Last year it was Rs 30.03 crore from RCOM. And if you are wondering about the generous helpings of the number 3, celebrity numerologist Sanjay B Jumaani subtley points out that 3 is a lucky number that brings wealth and prosperity. Now, is this the reason why the younger Ambani is all set to become the richest man in India?
Sceptics might shake their heads vehemently, but try explaining it to liquor baron Vijay Mallya who takes all his new Kingfisher Airlines jets for a spin over Tirupati before putting them to commercial use.
And what about telecom tycoon Sunil Bharti Mittal who becomes a vegetarian before any major business move? He breaks this vow only after the closure of the deal, followed by a visit to a temple. And if that’s not being superstitious enough, Mittal also loves the number 23. He has the number on his car as well. Incidentally, it’s the date on which he was born and married.
But in this religion-soaked country, superstition and business go back a long way. Famous astrologer and consultant Bejan Daruwalla says, “There are many corporate giants not only from India but also globally who ask for my consultation. I have met Dhirubhai Ambani twice officially at his residence. I had suggested to him how he should loosen his hands on the rein of power and take life more peacefully.”
No one actually knows whether the great Dhirubhai followed his advice. But by the look of things this 78-year-old astrologer has perhaps witnessed many a corporate battle being played out in the minds of business tycoons. “It’s not insecurity that dogs business leaders,” says Daruwalla. “A temporary nervousness haunts them when they are about to launch a major project, product or wind up a business. Then they seek advice. We all have our prejudices, superstitions, likes, dislikes and weaknesses…be it a corporate giant or any other person…we are all human beings first.”
A philosophical Daruwalla refused to divulge any more names as he maintained that it was a matter of integrity. But a glance at Mumbai’s skyline four years down the line might establish superstition’s greatest and grandest triumph in India. Antilla, the 27-storey $2b skyscraper being built in Mumbai by Mukesh Ambani, is being shaped on Vaastu principles. And if you thought that’s the end of the story, wait!
Noted corporate historian and chairman, BP Ergo Group, Dr Gita Piramal points out: “Have you ever seen the Ambani brothers before an important meeting? They would always invariably turn out in red ties.” Well, nothing wrong in wearing red, but Piramal claims that the colour of the ties is of a specific shade of red almost always! It’s a numbers game
PIRAMAL who has spent a significant part of her life hobnobbing with this country’s corporate glitterati also reveals another facet of business honchos. “You would almost find everyone wearing precious and semi-precious coloured stones. It could be a blue stone this month, for the next three it could be a topaz and a diamond. Sometimes they would call their family astrologers or gemmologists and ask about the lucky colour for that particular month,” she says.
So, much for colour! But then there are spellings as well. Numerologist Sanjay B Jumaani says, “1, 3, 5 and 6 are quite fortunate; perhaps these numbers could be used when choosing to name a new born baby, company or a brand name.” And Jumaani has changed quite a few names. The changes have been in the form of prefixes added or additional alphabets. “Raymond’s was rechristened Raymond to bring it on Number 24 or 6. Provogue has had the R put in, which in a way also suggests ‘Registered’; Topsgroup is Topsgrup, Reliance Money Ltd is Reliance Money Limited, and many of Cox and Kings co names are spelt by us,” he says. According to him, even Provogue owner Salil Chaturvedi got his spelling changed, as did Cox and Kings’ Urshila Kerkar, and Top Securities’ Rahul Nanda who has had a signature change.
Quite an impressive list! But Dr Lalit Khaitan, chairman, Radico Khaitan has one more up his sleeve. “Let me tell you a little secret,” he says. “Most businessmen avoid buying a Rolls Royce and Toyota Lexus in this country.” Is there a superstition surrounding Lexus and what might that be? “Harshad Mehta also had a Lexus,” he replies with a smile.