A mining baron is drawing the ire of millions of Indians who are struggling hard just to survive while the the baron threw an extravagant five-day wedding.
As ordinary cope with the impact of a drastic “black money” crackdown led by PM Narendra Modi, politician G Janardhana Reddy celebrated the wedding of his daughter in the city of Bangalore.
He spared no expense. The invitation cards fitted with LCD screens, cost about 10 million rupees (almost $148,000) alone.
Other expenses included the bride's wedding sari worth 170 million rupees ($2.5 million) and her jewelry costing 900 million rupees ($13 million).
Reddy also hired around 3,000 bouncers and 300 special security personnel complete with sniffer dogs and bomb squads to be deployed outside the location of the wedding, which is essentially a palace that the wealthy politician built especially for his daughter.
All in all, the entire affair cost 5 billion rupees, which amounts to nearly $74 million. (To put things into perspective, Kate Middleton and Prince William's wedding cost close to $34 million.)
Reddy, one of the richest men in India, is a former member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Karnataka state. He spent three years in jail on corruption charges and was freed on conditional bail last year.
Now, in order to understand why millions of Indians are angry over the wedding, it’s important to know that the nuptials took place just a few days after Modi banned the 500 and 1,000 rupee banknotes, which is apparently a crackdown on corruption and illegal cash holdings.
The drastic and, for many, sudden measure has caused a crippling cashflow crisis in the country. ATMs are running out of cash and people have to stand in long queues to exchange old bills.
The so-called crackdown against corruption has heavily impacted the working and rural class not only economically but personally.
For instance, a premature baby died in Mumbai after a local hospital refused to provide life-saving treatment to the parents because they only had 500 rupee notes.
Another tragedy occurred in Jalaun District, a district of Uttar Pradesh state of India, where a retired school teacher, 70-year-old Raghunath Verma, died of a cardiac arrest, after waiting outside a bank for eight hours. He needed money for his daughter’s wedding. However, the bank manager reportedly refused to help him with the exchange process.
“We needed Rs 2 lakh ($2,948) for the marriage expenses. My father went to the bank for three days. He had spoken to the bank manager many times asking him to help with the withdrawal and exchange. The manager did not listen to him,” Verma’s son Ravi Verma said, according to Hindustan Times. “He even fell on the manager’s feet on Saturday.”
Since a vast majority of Indians is struggling financially and even paying with their lives — thanks to the government’s glaringly ill-planned decision — it is somewhat understandable why so many Indian are furious over the lavish Reddy wedding.