It appears there will soon be a new “most expensive house in the world.” The fifth richest man in the word and head of Mumbai-based petrochemical giant Reliance Industries, Mukesh Ambani is building a new home which will cost nearly $2 billion. How do you know when you have too much money? How about when you are having a $2 billion house built for you. Considering Ambani is worth some $43 billion according to Forbes, this $2 billion home is in no way a stretch for him, but maybe it is just a tad extravagant.
According to an article in Forbes, the Ambanis will leave their extensively remodeled 22-story tower home in downtown Mumbai for their new 27-story 400,000 square foot skyscraper (visit Forbes for more details), also located in Mumbai and equipped with nearly every extravagance imaginable. A building of this size wouldn’t ordinarily cost $2 billion, but because of the material being used and the fact that the designs of each floor are very different, the costs are much higher. I’m not typically one to go bashing wealthy people for their extravagant spending habits, but this was a little disturbing to me. They already have one of the most expensive houses in the world and are simply one-upping themselves, flaunting their wealth in the face of poverty and deprivation being experienced in their country. Here is an excerpt from the World Food Programme’s website:
Nearly 50 percent of the world's hungry live in India, a low-income, food-deficit country. Around 35 percent of India's population - 350 million - are considered food-insecure, consuming less than 80 percent of minimum energy requirements.
Nutritional and health indicators are extremely low. Nearly nine out of ten pregnant women aged between 15 and 49 years suffer from malnutrition and anemia. Anemia in pregnant women causes 20 percent of infant mortality. More than half of the children under five are moderately or severely malnourished, or suffer from stunting.
How can you possibly justify a $2 billion expense when half of the starving people in this world come from your country? For most wealthy Americans, it is hard to understand and relate to such dire problems half a world away. Once you witness with your own eyes a person dying of starvation, you get a new perspective on life, or at least anyone with a heart would. Unfortunately—or fortunately depending on your perspective—many Americans never see such things first hand and such problems seem as unreal as they are remote. But Mr. Ambani, I must imagine, has witnessed these problems first hand, as it would be hard to avoid them while living in a country facing such a crisis.
Ambani is pouring money back into the economy with the construction of his residence, along with the 600 or so staff he is expected to keep in order to maintain his home. Those people are probably thankful to Mr. Ambani, but I can think of a thousand ways in which just a fraction of this $2 billion could be used to better help his countrymen.
I’m not a frequent reader of Indian media, but I imagine that this fellow is not looked upon too highly by the poor in India. If I were Ambani, I don’t think I could sleep at night in my overly extravagant palace while elsewhere in my city thousands of people are dying of starvation and malnutrition. Personally, all I would be able to think about is that I could have saved every one of them, but instead I chose to have that custom solid gold toilet. Sounds like a nightmare to me...but hey...as long as he can live with himself.*Photos used were from Forbes.com