Is the brouhaha over ‘Antila’, Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani's billion-dollar-plus new home in Mumbai, justified?
Numerous bloggers and commentators have been amazed at the amount of money spent on the huge 44-storey structure, which is now known as the world's most expensive individual family home.
Many find such lavish expenditure somewhat vulgar considering the home (which has three helipads and parking for over 160 cars) is so close to some of the sprawling slums that are dotted around Mumbai. People have questioned whether Ambani, one of India's–and indeed the world's–richest men should spend so lavishly on a private home in a country in which hundreds of millions of people can barely eke out a living at the margins of society.
Similar questions were asked during the Commonwealth Games–could India afford to spend an alleged $6.8 billion (according to a Business Today estimate) on an event when it’s difficult to see any lasting benefits?
Of course, working out whether something is really worth the money is an extremely subjective undertaking. Having the debate on value when the money being spent is taxpayers’ cash is perhaps justified. But even in a poor country, is it right to fault an individual for the way he chooses to spend his wealth? I just don’t know. One thing I do know though–with that kind of money at his disposal, Ambani had no business creating a visual monstrosity like Antila.