SINGAPORE, July 10 — The lavish wedding of Anant Ambani, son of Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, has sparked a passionate debate online about the gulf between rich and poor in India.

Anant Ambani, 29, is set to marry his longtime girlfriend Radhika Merchant, also 29, who also hails from a wealthy family, in a wedding ceremony this week.The opulence of the wedding has drawn the ire of some netizens who view the Ambanis’ wealth as a result of the unequal wealth redistribution system in India.

Critics have also argued the Ambanis’ vast wealth has grown as a result of political connections.

Netizens are divided between those who view the festivities as a classless show of wealth and those who believe the wedding will boost the hospitality industry with its months-long celebrations.

The upcoming wedding made headlines in March when the Ambanis reportedly paid American pop star Rihanna US$7 millionto perform at the pre-wedding celebrations.

The three-day festivities saw 1,200 guests including billionaires, tech giants, former world leaders and international celebrities flying down to the family’s hometown of Jamnagar in Gujarat state.

Its high-profile attendees included Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Meta chief and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and former United States president Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

The town’s small airport was temporarily upgraded to international airport status for the event, with a total of 600 flights in and out of the usually quiet facility.

This was only the beginning. In May, the Ambanis held a three-day cruise which included a DJ set from David Guetta and a performance from American pop star Katy Perry.

Now the family is shelling out an estimated US$10 million for a performance by Canadian pop star Justin Bieber in Mumbai, as part of the wedding celebrations, to be split between that city and the family’s hometown.

Too much for a wedding?

The extravagance of the wedding celebrations has drawn some flak from online users.

In a Reddit post, user “beautifullifede”, called the celebrations “an obscene and naked display of wealth”.

“72 crores for Rihanna, this just feels so sad for a country where people can go with as much as 500 rupees a week”.

In Indian currency, one crore is equivalent to 10,000,000 rupees (S$162,000).

Another Reddit user wrote: “I have no issues with rich people spending money, but don’t justify that anyone can rightfully acquire that kind of wealth. He makes that money exploiting the human resources, forest resources, land and politics of the country.”

In response to an Instagram post by Justin Bieber, one comment read: “Too bad that someone like you didn’t think to refuse this money, these gentlemen with one marriage could feed millions of Indians starving! What a shame!”

Another user disagreed and wrote: “Their money their choice.”

This sentiment was echoed by others.

One Reddit user wrote: “Isn’t this how most weddings are in India? An obscene expression of wealth.”

“Why should he (the Ambanis) alone be expected to show sensitivity to the condition of others in the society and spend the money in a more beneficial way?,” the user added.

Some netizens saw the lavish wedding as a way to help redistribute wealth.

A Reddit user wrote: “It’s more helpful for the rich to spend their money, than to hoard it. That’s the only way to get a little bit of wealth redistribution under the current system.”

“One thing for sure, it will generate a lot of business for vendors and those in the wedding business. Lots of people depend on this craze for lavish weddings to earn their living,” another said.

According to The Financial Express, the wedding is expected to be lucrative for the hospitality sector, generate jobs across various other sectors and even improve infrastructure.

A report by the Business Standard stated that the Jamnagar airport had been rebuilt in preparation for the pre-wedding celebrations in February and had its status changed from a military airfield to a civilian terminal to accommodate a surge in the number of flights.

Who are the Ambani's

According to Forbes’s real time data Mukesh Ambani, 66, is currently the world’s 11th richest man and has a net worth of US$123.2 billion as of Tuesday afternoon.

He owns Reliance Industries, a multinational conglomerate that is involved in petrochemicals, oil and gas, telecoms and retail. It was founded by his father.

The family assets include a 27-storey private apartment building, named Antila, worth US$1 billion in Mumbai, featuring three helipads and a 160-car garage.

The oldest son, Akash Ambani, is chairperson of Reliance Jio, their telecoms business; his daughter, Isha, oversees retail, while the groom Anant, the youngest, is involved in the new energy business.

According to Vogue, the bride Radhika Merchant, is the daughter of pharmaceutical tycoon Viren Merchant and currently works as the marketing director for his company Encore Healthcare.

The wedding is scheduled to take place this Friday (July 12) with a grand reception on Sunday. The festivities are expected to be split between Ambani’s Jio World Convention Centre in Mumbai and their family home. — TODAY