Some days ago I saw a news report about Mukesh Ambani's 27 floor house with, among other amenities, a 50 seat theatre where, I suppose he will enjoy watching Slumdog Millionaire. What makes a person build a house so far in excess of his needs?
One of the interesting questions in biology is: Why does a peacock have such a heavy, gaudy tail? It costs energy to make - energy that can be used elsewhere, attracts predators and makes it difficult to escape from them. William Hamilton proposed a theory that is widely accepted: the peacock's tail is a signal of genetic fitness.
So is "Antilla" the name of Mukesh Ambani's version of the peacock's tail, a potlatch-style display of "I can"? Another peacock's tail (this one not belonging to any particular individual but was the brainchild of a group of of movers and shakers) was the recent Commonwealth Games.
In a podcast, P.Sainath, the rural affairs editor of The Hindu newspaper, talked about a grand party thrown by Emperor Nero for the creme de la creme of Rome, as narrated by Tacitus. A problem was that the light was not enough. Nero solved it in typical fashion: he had criminals brought from the dungeons and burned at the stake to provide the lighting. What bothered Sainath was not the cruelty involved but the question: who were Nero's guests? What sort of mindset is required to silently eat the best foods and quaff the finest wines in the midst of all that cruelty? I also have a similar thought: what sort of mindset is required in order to build a billion dollar house at spitting distance from some of the largest slums in Asia?