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Boomtime for the kings of bad times

india Updated: Jan 07, 2009 02:07 IST
Lalatendu Mishra
Lalatendu Mishra
Hindustan Times
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If pink slips challenge your salary slips, try clutching a lottery ticket in one hand and a horoscope in the other.

Lottery sellers and astrologers are seeing a mini-boom while an economic slowdown threatens jobs or makes workers feel insecure in industries like aviation, retail, financial services and software. Many worry about paying back loans.

Ramesh Pillai, 42, pulls out a ticket from a bundle, shuts his eyes and prays to God. The financial analyst fears he will lose his job, and hopes superior powers will bless him.

“I have been disappointed many times. Only recently I won Rs 500 on a Rs 10 ticket,” said Pillai, a Mumbai resident who spends Rs. 300 on lotteries every week.

“I don’t know whether I will be retained in this cost cutting exercise. What will happen to my family? How will I pay my EMIs (equated monthly instalments)?”

he said.

Kurla resident Sanjay Bhatia consults an astrologer before buying a lottery ticket. “There is no work and income is down significantly. I have to meet financial commitments. Lottery is the only option,” said Bhatia, a middle-aged IT consultant.

“More than 1,000 people have approached me to know whether their jobs would be secure and to know when they could win a lottery. We give them hope and guide them according to their stars,” said Pandit R.K. Sharma, a finance specialist astrologer.

“We sell dreams and that is why people pay for the tickets,” said Usman Fayaz, whose firm GI Terminal I Tech is India’s largest lottery operator.

(Surnames have been changed on request)