Billion-dollar home in the slums of India in shockingly poor taste

November 23, 2010 — by Roy Bisht

What could one buy with $1 billion? Maybe a few dozen cars, a mansion, a beach house, a professional sports team like the Warriors (which recently sold for $450 million) and the luxury of early retirement. Or how about a 27-story house complete with 600 servants?

That’s what Mukesh Ambani had in mind when the 53-year-old, who is the richest man in India, decided to spend $1 billion on a 60,000-square-foot behemoth in the slums of Mumbai named “Antilia.” Even though Ambani has the money and time to build such a structure, such a purchase is both useless to him and totally unnecessary.

The average American lives in a house of 2,400 square feet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which is roughly one-30th of Ambani’s house. Most Americans don’t have a pool; Ambani has several. And the dance floor, health club and three helipads? Those frivolous amenities speak for themselves.

As Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh said, “Business leaders should be role models of moderation.” A $1 billion house is the antithesis of moderation. Not only is India beset with economic problems—42 percent of India’s population is below the poverty line and the country accounts for one-third of world poverty—but Ambani’s house is also nestled in the slums of Mumbai, one of the poorest areas in all of India.

As an economic role model, Ambami should have not spent such a ridiculous amount of money on the house—with India is such a poor economic state at the moment, he should have put some effort into making it better, especially as the country’s richest man. Instead, Ambani spent $1 billion on the construction on the monster of a house, even before furnishing all 27 floors of it.

Ambani makes roughly $10 million a year as the chairman of Reliance Industries, while the average Indian income is about $440 a year according to NationMaster.

What makes his house, or perhaps “skyscraper,” so ethically questionable is the practicality of his purchase. For example, why a 53-year-old business tycoon need a dance studio in his house? It’s purchases like these that question the ethics of Ambani, as millions of Indians struggle to survive on a daily basis while he nonchalantly lounges in his in-home health spa.

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