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Wage Slave News


Who Needs It?

20 December 2010

On November 28th. in Mumbai, India’s richest person, Mr. Mukesh Ambani, and his family entertained two hundred guests at a house-warming party. Their new home, a tower called Antila, is a building that some might consider appropriate for a man whose personal fortune is $27 billion. The building itself is valued at $1billion and it contains nine elevators, a spa, a fifty-seat theatre, a grand ballroom, a six-level parking garage, and three helipads. Literally hundreds of servants will be employed in the 37 000 square metre home.

Such expense and expanse might be understandable if Mr. And Mrs. Ambani had a large, extended family, but only three children will be living with them. Perhaps each member of the family will be able to enjoy some privacy. According to Mumbai actor, Alyque Padamjee, “I think some people will see it as a bit show-offy.” (New York Times, Nov 14/2010). An understatement if ever there was one!

Ambani inherited his company, Reliance Industries, from his father, Dhirubhani Ambani, who came from the slums and became the world’s biggest producer of polyester fibres and yarns. Reliance accounts for fifteen per cent of India’s exports. Living in a 27-storey tower is not exactly the norm for Mumbai’s twenty million residents, sixty-two per cent of whom live in the city’s vast slum areas. Real estate prices are the highest in the world, which forces many working class folks into the slums. This delights real estate developers who can then clear land for high-rise homes for the wealthy.

Sushala Pawan lives (if one can call it that) on the same street as Ambani. She cooks for a family, makes 4 000 rupees ($90) a month, and sleeps on the floor in the hallway. The summit of her ambition is to be employed by the Ambanis. To anybody capable of rational thought, it must surely seem strange that such fantastic disparities of wealth exist. Some may argue that if the Ambanis have what it takes to make a fortune, don’t begrudge them. This ignores the fact that the fortune was made by the ferocious exploitation of workers in their manufacturing plants. Nobody needs such fantastic wealth, but millions need more than they have now, especially those in the Mumbai slums. Some may ask what chance do these millions have of improving their lives - within the current capitalist system, very little. However, a change to a socialist society would be able to fulfill everyone’s needs through free access to all goods and services produced by society.

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