Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The big fat Indian paradox

As India’s masses grapple with the mayhem of losing big bank notes, Janardhana Reddy spends US$80 million on his daughter's nuptials at Bangalore Palace

As India’s masses grapple with the mayhem of demonetization, an extravagant wedding ceremony in the south this week appears to be ignoring Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement that shook India on Nov. 8. 

Gali Janardhana Reddy, a mining magnate with connections to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has reportedly spent more than US$80 million on the wedding ceremony for his daughter Brahmani today.

Modi made the announcement on Nov. 8 that 500 and 1,000 rupee banknotes would be withdrawn from circulation at midnight, saying it was part of a crackdown on rampant corruption and counterfeit currency. Chaos spread across the country over limited cash availability.

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In 1999 to 2009, the Reddy brothers – Janardhana, Karunakara and Somashekara – were instrumental in bringing the BJP to power in Karnataka. The Union Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj was among the top BJP leaders who were their close associates.

But the BJP distanced itself from the Reddy brothers when Janardhana was arrested over illegal mining. Janardhana Reddy is the owner of the Obulapuram Mining Corporation and a former minister in Karnataka state. Now, he is out on bail.

His daughter Brahmani’s wedding is taking place at the Bangalore Palace grounds, with about 50,000 guests expected to attend.

The LCD wedding invite hit headlines in the Indian media. It was sent in a blue box that had an embedded LCD screen, which played a musical video invite. The invitation alone is said to have cost an estimated US$738,057. It was reported that chartered planes are ferrying in guests from various parts of the country.

Such overt displays of extravagant spending comes at a time when the common man is running from pillar to post to exchange the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, and withdraw money within the 2,000 rupee a day limit to manage daily expenses.

An entourage of politicians and film stars, among other celebrities, are attending the event, which boasts of extravagant sets that resemble a rural paradise and the recreation of monuments, as  well as dancers from various parts of the world and various other entertainment.

Latest reports said Karnataka’s BJP president Yeddyurappa and the state’s former chief minister Jagadish Shettar among others had arrived to bless the couple.

Reddy has rented about 36 acres of land at the sprawling palace for this week’s extravaganza. Among the sets erected at the palace was a replica of the groom’s house in Hyderabad, a temple and a village-like setting of Bellary. 

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