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“The person who lives in there should be concerned about what he sees around him and [asking] can he make a difference. If he is not, then it’s sad because this country needs people to allocate some of their enormous wealth to finding ways of mitigating the hardship that people have.”

The remark was made by reputed Indian industrialist, Ratan Tata, scion of Tata Industries, about Mukesh Ambani, managing director of Reliance Industries, living in a billion dollar mansion, Antilla, in Mumbai.  Ratan Tata made these  remarks (and other like : “In my experience, in both Corus and JLR, nobody is willing to go the extra mile, nobody. “) in  interview “Ratan Tata – The Mumbai tycoon collecting British brands”, by Damian Whitworth, that appeared on May 21 2011 ,in  the British newspaper Times. This remark about Mukesh Ambani has sparked off a controversy. Let us find out about Mukesh Ambani and his house, Antilla.

Mukesh Ambani is the second richest Indian in the world, with a wealth of $29 billion (as per Forbes March 2011). He is 53 years old and is based in Mumbai. He is managing director of Reliance Industries, India’s largest private sector enterprise. He is the son of Dhirubhai H. Ambani, Founder Chairman of the Company. He is married to Nita Ambani and has 3 children, Aakash, Anant and Isha.

Antilia or Antillia is World’s First Billion Dollar Home and belongs to Mukesh Ambani. It is named after the mythical island in Atlantic ocean.  Myth is that these islands were at the edge of the world marking the boundaries beyond which sailors cannot navigate and pillars were set up by Hercules. Mukesh Ambani’s residence is on Mumbai’s Altamount Road on an acre site. The architects are  Perkins, Will and Hirsch Bedner Associates. It is built according to principles of Vaastu Shastra , designed to survive an 8-richter scale earthquake.

House of Mukesh Ambani

Antilla has 27 floors and is 173m (570 ft) high(as tall as a typical 60-storey building). It has health centre, yoga studio, a ballroom, a dance floor, and an ice room to escape Mumbai’s heat. The building has a 50-seat mini theatre and hanging garden.  The first six floors are reserved for parking cars of Mukesh’s family and has space for 168 cars.  Top floors offer panoramic views of the Arabian Sea. It houses 600 full-time staff. It is the world’s largest and costliest home with a price- tag more than a billion dollar.

Since it’s construction, the Antilla and Mukesh Ambani have been mired in controversies :
-Maharastra Govt declaring it illegal till Mukesh got No objection certificate from Waqf  Board, seller of the land.
-Construction of helipads as they  violate noise laws
-People reactions that in-spite of huge costs, building is not beautiful. It is an eysesore in the skyline of Mumbai.
-It’s electricity bill. Antilla consumes approximately 6,37,240 power units with a monthly electricity bill of Rs. 70 lakh , equivalent of the monthly bill of 7,000 homes in Mumbai.
-It’s water consumption. Anil Galgali had filed RTI  seeking information on Ambani’s water usage It’s monthly water consumption is said to be five lakh litres against  450 liters a day.

The most loud has been the anti-poverty campaigners highlighting the contrast between the house and Mumbai, home of the Asia’s worst slums, or India where millions of people don’t have adequate shelter and starve. “It’s a stupendous show of wealth, it’s kind of positioning business tycoons as the new maharajah of India”  says Hamish McDonald, author of “Ambani & Sons: A History of the Business.” Columnist Shobha De(who was invited for the house warming party) commented “Rich-poor gap is overdone. The world is trying to send India on a guilt trip,” she said. “Every country has its super-rich and super-poor. We’re proud of our billionaires. They’re our jewels.

Mukesh Ambani is known as a  private man(haven’t reacted to Ratan Tata’s or any other comment) . People are surprised that Ambani has made such a lavish statement of his wealth.  Unlike other industrialists who have villas in exotic destinations in world, It is his one and only residence. The house is a fraction of his net worth. Isn’t he allowed to live in a house  he wants just because he is super-rich? Is he the only super rich  Indian flaunting his wealth? What about richest Indian, steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, who threw a six-day, $60-million wedding for his daughter in 2004 or Vijay Mallya, a liquor and airline baron with 250 vintage cars. What about Cabins, at Colaba, the house in which Ratan Tata is planning to move?

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