As if to underline the adage that you should never believe something until it is officially denied, Ratan Tata, the chairman of the eponymous corporate behemoth, has officially denied that he objected to Mukesh Ambani‘s opulence in building a 27-storey home in an interview with The Times, London.
Most newspapers have dutifully carried Tata’s denial largely because Tata has developed a strange sensitivity toward criticism in the post-2G scam phase*. Alone among the lot, Business Standard has had the gumption to ask the simple question: why deny something that most people will wholeheartedly agree with?
“Ratan Tata’s non-statement on Mukesh Ambani’s opulent lifestyle will get a lot of heads nodding in agreement. Ambani makes a lot of money from his business and he is entitled to spend it as he sees fit. Even so, there is something curiously insensitive to splurging on an over-the-top, 27-storey home that has no redeeming architectural qualities, in a country in which many Indians are homeless— even in Mumbai.
“To be sure, Ambani is unlikely to have solved India’s poverty problem if he hadn’t built the tower on land once used to run an orphanage. Still, as Tata suggested, he could well have spent it to mitigate the hardship of the poor. Two billion dollars, the reported construction cost for Antilla, could build several decent apartments for slum-dwellers being relocated from Dharavi, for instance.
“Tata is much less wealthy and lives a life that is luxurious by most Indian standards. But he practises a dignified restraint and is backed by a level of welfare spending that his fellow industrialists would do well to follow. Tata, in sum, should own up to what he did not say.”
* Disclosures apply
Read the full editorial: Quote, unquote
Also read: Madness, megalomania or hard-earned fruits?