Curiosity about one’s future is nothing new. But when predictions are available at your fingertips for less than Rs 10 a minute on your cellphone it is almost irresistible. And while consulting an astrologer is just a call away, astrologers find themselves with growing opportunity and job security.
World Phone International, a key provider of these services to companies like Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Virgin, MTNL and BSNL, pegs astrology as its biggest segment.
Founder Vivek Dhir said: “We started with two astrologers in 2000 and now have 700, working from 14 offices in India. The service is available in 10 languages.” The company handles 2,000 to 3,000 calls per day.
Acharya Tripathi (27) works with a website in Delhi that provides astrology services on a popular telephone company’s landline. He’s among the 25 astrologers who work three to four hours a day — astrology on landlines is yet to catch up and continues to study at Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute.
Caller profiles vary from city to city. In Mumbai and Gujarat, it’s generally stockbrokers who dial in. Afternoons see a large number of housewives calling, while late evenings are a convenient time for businessmen.
Exam times see a boom. “While 10 to 12-year-olds call and ask specific questions about their papers, after the exams, it’s their mothers call in,” said Alok, an astrologer.
“Astrology is ingrained in the Indian psyche. If you have a problem, it’s almost a stigma to go to a psychiatrist but visiting an astrologer is a given,” said Dhir.