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10 Ridiculous Things The Richest 1% Indians Can Buy, That Millions Can’t Even Dream Of

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NFI logoEditor’s Note: With #GoalPeBol, Youth Ki Awaaz has joined hands with the National Foundation for India to start a conversation around the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals that the Indian government has undertaken to accomplish by 2030. Let’s collectively advocate for successful and timely fulfilment of the SDGs to ensure a brighter future for our nation.

India is a country of pretty obvious inequalities. It accounts for the largest number of people living below the poverty line – but at the same time, it also has the fourth highest number of billionaires in the world. This bizarre dichotomy manifests itself when we see people struggling to afford three square meals a day, while the richest of Indians buy ridiculously expensive things.

In fact, according to a study by rights group Oxfam, the inequality is so bad that 57 Indian billionaires own 70% of  the nation’s wealth! As a signatory to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, it is the responsibility of the Indian government to not only address this alarming gap, but also do something to bridge it. Because the truth is, the gap is too wide for India to realistically meet its development goals.

Don’t believe us? Have a look at these 10 ridiculously expensive things that the top 1% of Indians can easily afford, but which millions in the country can’t even dream of:

1. iPhone 5 Black Diamond

What do you get when you take a brand known for elite and expensive products and put diamonds on it? Something priced at £10 million or a ridiculous ₹83 crores! “Ahahahaha,” thinks the average Indian.

(Image credit: Stuart Hughes)

2. Gold encrusted donuts

Hey, do you like donuts and also want to feel rich while eating one? Chuck the ol’ sugary donuts and why not add gold flakes to yours? Yes, actual legit gold flakes. And, just a note – each donut costs $100 (over ₹6,000)!

(Image credit: Manila Social Club)

3. Reinast Luxury Toothbrush

Rich people gotta feel rich while doing anything, even when it’s something as basic as brushing teeth. Clocking in at a cool $4000, it’s not money till you got titanium in your teeth. While the rest of us ordinary Indians are here busy, plugging ordinary stuff like Colgate – or, more probably, neem ka dantun.

(Image credit: Toothbrush Tech)

4. A shirt made of gold

Most of us would settle for good ol’ cotton but Dattatray Phuge, an Indian businessman, made headlines when he ordered a shirt made of pure gold for himself. This earned him the nickname the ‘gold man’ of Pune. And he isn’t the only one either. Maharashtra’s businessman-politician Pankaj Parekh became the second person in India to own a gold shirt.

5. An apartment in Beverley Hills

At a time when almost every sky-rise in India seems to be surrounded by slums, very few people can think of buying houses outside India, let alone in premier locations. Not that this is a concern for the super-rich of course – such as when Aamir Khan spent ₹75 crore to buy an apartment for his wife, Kiran Rao. Love is worth more than money, sure – but wow!

6. A yacht

Not many people in India have even seen a yacht up close – I certainly haven’t. The first thing most people think of when they hear ‘yacht’ is ‘a big boat that’s too expensive for me’. And you know what? They’re totally right. Case in point: Vijay Mallya’s yacht, the ‘Indian Empress’, which cost a ridiculous $150 million. Good for running away from all the debt, I suppose.

(Image credit: Wikimedia)

7. A private jet

It’s boring, since it’s something many rich persons have. And yet, it’s not something most of us can even think of owning. From Mallya to the Ambanis to half the Bollywood superstars out there, a private plane is a must. At the same time, the rest of the country is either struggling to get the cheapest flight tickets or has probably never been on a plane at all.

8. A whole cricket team

People usually dream of being cricketers – but owning your own cricket team? Yeah, way out of most people’s leagues. The Mumbai Indians’ market value is estimated to be more than $50 million, and is owned by none other than Mukesh Ambani. Obviously.

(Image credit: Wikipedia)

9. A trip to outer space

Everyone loves to travel, but rich people like to travel to some wild locations. Most of us are grateful if we get away to a hill station for a weekend – but that’s just us. Enter Virgin Galactic, which is working on making commercial space travel a thing. It won’t probably be affordable for most of humanity, though – because each ticket costs $200,000. But hey, at least you’ll miss the crowd in space!

Ambani’s house in Mumbai

10. Antilla

What does it take to own the most expensive private residential building in the world? Oodles of money, of course. Most families in India would probably save for years before managing to buy their own residence, but not Mukesh Ambani (again, obviously). Antilla has 27 floors and needs a staff of 600 to maintain it – and a single family resides in it.

Ironically, Antilla is located in Mumbai, which is also home to Dharavi, one of the largest slums in the world. More than being a symbol of ‘development’, it should be regarded as a symbol of inequality that’s festering modern Indian society.

So, the big question: Why should you care? Because rising inequality affects the development of the country you live in, as a whole. It is a concern so big that leaders around the world have made it a point in their campaign promises  – and for good reason. According to The Economist, inequality can “impair growth if those with low incomes suffer poor health and low productivity as a result” as well as “threaten public confidence in growth-boosting policies like free trade.”

When nearly 200 million people in India are malnourished and 96% of the adult population has wealth ‘below $10,000 (₹ 6.84 lakhs)’, the government has a responsibility to work towards eradicating all forms of inequality, especially since it is one of India’s most crucial problems.

If India aims to meet its sustainable development goals (SDG) by 2030, the government needs to start working and put forth systems to ensure that people are protected from the growing inequality. This includes social protection systems for those who are especially vulnerable – such as people with disabilities, the elderly and children.

And we need to hold the government accountable until it does this. That starts now.

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Image Source: Yogen Shah/India Today Group/Getty Images
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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