By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Jan 9 : Exactly 13 years after the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) erected a massive bronze sculpture of a ‘charging bull outside its headquarters, the iconic Pheroze J. Jeejeebhoy Towers on Dalal Street on Saturday got another big bull.
This time, the image is of a ready-to-charge ‘Zebu Bull’, with a pair of long, piercing horns pointing to the sky, which has come up at the Rajni Patel Chowk in the financial hub of Worli.
It’s a joint collaboration of the IndusInd Bank, the Hinduja Foundation and the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), and becomes the fourth bovine gracing the country’s commercial capital.
Designed by Arzan Khambatta, the Zebu Bull is placed opposite the headquarters of the Hinduja group, which also runs the IndusInd Bank, and the initiative is part of the MCGM’s efforts to beautify the city through public-private art initiatives.
Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray cut the ribbon on the Zebu Bull in the presence of Hinduja Foundation Managing Trustee Ashok P. Hinduja and IndusInd Bank Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Sumant Kathpalia.
Inspired by the Wall Street Bull near the New York Stock Exchange building, Mumbai’s first bull was showcased at the BSE on January 11, 2008, but the market crashed barely a fortnight later and after that painful kick, it was promptly labelled as a ‘panauti’ (ill-omen).
“The BSE brokers’ lexicon comprising terms like ‘Bulls’ and ‘Bears’ first seeped into mass usage after the late Harshad Mehta’s mega-scams in the stock markets in 1992,” Rajesh Shah, a financial consultant, told IANS.
Subsequently, the rotund broker himself earned the sobriquet of ‘Big Bull’ but it was only seven years after his death in 2001 that the BSE thought of propping up one outside its building in south Mumbai, Shah pointed out.
Designed by Bhagwan Rampure, it is 1.5-metre tall, 2.4-metre long and packs a tonne of darkly gleaming bronze. It turned into a mini-landmark by itself outside the BSE tower – which was targeted during the March 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts.
Not surprisingly, it became instantly popular with locals and tourists alike with hordes clicking selfies with the bull, prompting the BSE to order a replica which was kept on a mobile platform on the road outside.
However, the MCGM saw it as a “red flag” and ordered the BSE authorities to forthwith remove the bronze bovine or face confiscation of its identity – symbolising the universal dream of financial prosperity or Big Bucks.
Quietly complying, in 2017, the BSE removed the mobile bull and gifted it to the GIFT City, Gandhinagar (Gujarat), which is now taking baby steps to achieve its dream of hitting the bull’s eye as an international financial centre.
Later, a listed big brokerage firm, Motilal Oswal Securities Ltd, also installed its own, a bit smaller statue of a bull outside its offices in Prabhadevi, Dadar.
“The ‘Zebu Bull’ embodies the rich heritage of the ancient Indus Valley civilisation that represents a vibrant and progressive community which is synonymous with the city of Mumbai, resonating the sense of positivity and the undaunted spirit of its people,” said an IndusInd Bank official.
Hinduja said that the Hinduja Foundation is committed to the welfare of the country and the Zebu Bull initiative is one step to realise Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s vision of beautifying Mumbai.
Kathpalia said the Zebu Bull celebrates the dynamism, ambition and the aspirations of the country’s financial capital and also exemplifies the bank’s determination and confidence in the future as a strong brand.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: email@example.com)