I read this article about Mukesh Ambani‘s new house, which has been built at a cost of 1 billion USD. The post goes into 4 pages and a bit to say ‘it’s his money, and he can spend it how he wants’. I’ve said in the past that this is in stark contrast to what Bill Gates or Warren Buffet do with their money.
The author makes up straw men about how commenters on TOI’s website have no business complaining about Mukesh Ambani’s aesthetic taste or his right to spend his own money, and not surprisingly, knocks them out cold. The article says, for example:
This mansion – the subjective question of its aesthetics apart – is not some hidden away villa in some godforsaken part of the world; it’s right there, in front of you – it’s not pretentious austerity at least. […] Mukesh Ambani is not a minister putting all this together from fleeced or ill-gotten funds, to the best of my knowledge.
On the other hand, the author seems to accept on faith the statement that Reliance Industries provides employment to millions (because “A reader commented that Mukesh is not responsible for the poverty of the nation, and Reliance provides employment to millions, so he has absolutely no reason to be apologetic about it. “). Even the most preliminary of checks will tell you that Reliance Industries employs – wait for it – 25,000 people. So perhaps we shouldn’t be taking the best knowledge of the author to be worth anything at all.
The article goes on to say, in response to suggestions that maybe Ambani should be a bit more chartiable:
But do we take lessons from people in our respective income brackets, or do we spend our money as we please, most of the time? If Reliance – or any other company – were to crash tomorrow, would any of us take it as our social responsibility to buy shares above their market price to help Mukesh – or anyone else? When companies go bankrupt, we don’t go around collecting donations for their proprietors. So when they make money, and then spend the money the way they feel – so long as it is legal and legit – why do we get angst-filled? Assuming Mukesh is not interested in going down in history as Bill Gates-II, it’s his choice, entirely.
Let’s get that straight. If Reliance Industries, with its 25,000 employees and 3 million stockholders goes bankrupt tomorrow, it is our social responsibility to buy stock at higher than market price. You know, because that’s what people in our income bracket do.
Having thus pontificated about the virtues of the free-market and having resorted to the cliche that we should be going after politicians and not businessmen, the author congratulates himself for not being envious of Mukesh Ambani, and for writing an article that is worth nothing more than some space in a dustbin.
And just so I don’t leave this unsaid: the problem isn’t with money, or with people spending money, even extravagantly; the problem is especially not with Mukesh Ambani personally, or his house – eyesorish or not. The problem is that this country’s economic growth has given some people enough money to build houses that tower over cities, while hundreds of millions of others have to worry about their next meal. That this hideously disproportionate distribution of wealth is considered ‘legit’ is perhaps only a slightly smaller tragedy.
This is to say nothing, of course, of how morally bankrupt it is that corporations plunder forests, hills and rivers in this country with no regard for the people who will be affected, and with the connivance of the elected representatives of the people. Well, I guess as long as we (the top 0.5% of the country that is; the others can eat cake if they don’t have bread) aren’t also monetarily bankrupt…[hr]
The test I created is still open. I want enough votes for a statistically significant result. Do take the test!
[End. Fini. Kaputski. Ambani]