MUMBAI: Businessmen may blame global troubles or inept governance, but a Hindu guru has an alternative theory for the historic weakness of India's rupee: the newly adopted symbol for the currency is inauspicious.
Rajkumar Jhanjhari, an expert in the ancient Hindu doctrine of vastu shastra, has called for a new design, arguing that a line on the symbol has “slit the throat” of the rupee and sparked the country's financial gloom.
The rupee symbol, unveiled in 2010 during happier times for the Indian economy, is inspired by the letter “R” in the Roman alphabet and “Ra” from the ancient Devanagari script used in Hindi.
“India managed to withstand a severe global slump in 2009, before the symbol came up. One must ask why our growth rate is taking a beating now before rubbishing pleas for changing the symbol,” Jhanjhari told the Hindustan Times.
Data on Thursday showed India's economy grew just 5.3 per cent in January-March, its slowest pace in almost a decade, pushing the rupee to its lowest ever rate against the dollar.
It has shed about a fifth of its value against the US currency in the last 12 months.
Jhanjhari, based in the northeastern city of Guwahati, has offered tweaks to the rupee design that he believes would boost the troubled economy, the newspaper reported.
The 50-year-old said he wrote to the prime minister with his suggestions late last year and copies of the letter were also sent to the finance minister and the central bank.
Similar to Chinese feng shui, vastu shastra is a Hindu system of space design that aims to promote well-being, by auspiciously making buildings or other constructions align with natural forces.
The designer of the rupee's current symbol, student Udaya Kumar, said a change would be up to the government.
“Frankly, I don't know what to say,” he told the paper.
At the time of the launch of the rupee symbol, Information Minister Ambika Soni said it would establish the arrival of the Indian currency “as a robust currency.”