TWITTER NEEDS JUST any excuse to break into a public debate on any issue, with the users of this social media platform ‘tweeting’ views both far and against the issue.
A Twitter tweet on the American singer-dancer Beyonce dancing at the wedding, in Jodhpur, of Isha, daughter of India’s richest man, Mukhesh Dheerubhai Ambani touched off one such debate. Thousand tweeted – some expressing resentment at Ambani spending 100 million dollars (Rs.7.2 crore), others supporting Ambani and still others admiring the dresses worn by Beyoncé or Isha or saying how cute they looked.
In the good old days when there were no social media like Twitter. such expressions of
opinion was done by those who gossiped. And the rulers (yes, dynastic kings) kept track of what was being said and acted to satisfy the majority (yes, they were democratic).
Thus it was that Lord Rama of Indian mythology, told that a washerman expressed doubts about Sita’s chastity after she was kidnapped and held hostage by Ravana, asked her to prove it in an agnipareeksha (trial by fire) though he himself had no doubts.
Some tweets on the Isha Ambani marriage were outraged at such extravagant spending in a country where several hundred thousand still lived under the poverty line, where millions were homeless, many villages had dilapidated schools or none at all and where a campaign had to be launched to build toilets in rural homes.
Still others said the show-off of wealth by the Ambanis (whose house in Mumbai cost several million dollars) meant the money went to thousands who provided the services for the occasion and was, therefore, better than being hoarded.
Many calculated how many rural or slum houses for the homeless or rural schools or toilets could have been built with that money. Those used to mentally converting all dollar figures into rupees pointed out that the $100 million meant Rs.726,3300,000 at today’s exchange rate. Some felt it was nothing compare to India’s needs, but others saw it as a huge amount given per capita income in India is Rs.120979.78 per year (average Indian family is of 5 persons, that is almost Rs. 603986 a year per family).
This average included families which earn in millions per month, which means others earn below subsistence income. There can be much said on both sides. For a country of India’s proportions 726.33 million rupees is a paltry sub; for those earning as little as Rs. 10081 it is a huge amount.
It is obvious that ostentatious lifestyles are not for a developing country and that money should be spent productively. Extravagant spending on weddings in India, especially by people who cannot afford it, is a social problem.
The virtues of voluntary poverty or giving away things not really needed (though wanted) as advocated by Mahatma Gandhi are being realised all over the world, including the rich countries.
After all, you come into the world with nothing and take nothing with you when going.