Why prospect of staying in ‘Trump Tower’ appeals to India’s billionaires in times of Nirav Modi scam
New Delhi, Feb 22: The visit of American President Donald Trump's eldest child, Donald John Trump Jr, to India has come at a time when the country has been hit hard by a massive banking fraud. Thanks to billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi, the hard-earned money of India's honest taxpayers are being transferred to an unknown location with the help of India's second largest PSU bank, Punjab National Bank (PNB). The Nirav Modi-PNB scam is estimated to be about Rs 11,400 crore.
The worst part is that the high-flying jewellery designer whose creations have been flaunted by Hollywood and Bollywood divas like Kate Winslet and Priyanka Chopra has fled the country forever. So like liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who has left the country after looting banks in India, Nirav Modi is unlikely to be brought back to the country for a free and fair trial.
Amid all these reports of the astronomical amount of money being stolen by billionaire swindlers, when Trump Jr decides to visit India to wine, dine and promote a series of luxury apartments being marketed under his father's name among the country's rich and powerful, it tells something is systematically wrong with India.
The prices for the luxury apartments housed inside "Trump Tower" range from $780,000 to $1.6 million say reports. Such multi-crore housing projects--licensing agreements done between local real estate giants and the Trump Organization--are being developed in Pune, Mumbai, Gurgaon and Kolkata.
Imagine, in a nation where 60 per cent of the people are poor (if we believe the latest World Economic Forum (WEF) report), a small group of super-wealthy can afford to stay in multi-crore houses boasting of floor-to-ceiling windows, state of the art amenities and a "lifestyle concierge".
Over the years, successive governments--be it the present Narendra Modi regime or the previous Manmohan Singh regime--have given an impression that rich can freely steal India's money and enjoy all the comforts. Law can't touch the rich thugs, but a poor, drought-hit farmer who can't pay back his loan will be forced to commit suicide.
In 2017, the Centre told the Supreme Court that at least 12,000 farmers have committed suicide every year since 2013.
Next time, when India's billionaires' list is being featured in a glossy magazine, we should not celebrate, but cry for the poor and marginalised. Because we never know who has looted whom to amass such unimaginable bounty.
If liberalisation in the 90s has opened the market and given birth to a new class of billionaire capitalists in India, the United States (US) too is struggling with its own troubles.
Since Trump has become the President of US, every day it is becoming clearer that the former business tycoon and his family members are "misusing" the US administration to promote their own business interests around the globe.
That is why the India visit of Trump Jr has been widely followed by the American media too. Trump Jr is on an unofficial visit to India, but still, he is going to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Trump Jr will address a business conference on Friday on the subject of Indo-Pacific ties where he is going to talk about America's foreign policy. Modi is the keynote speaker at the event.
Along with meeting the top politicians and businessmen of the country, on Friday Trump Jr will also have dinner with dozens of people who have bought apartments in Trump Tower in Gurgaon, the destination for upwardly mobile in India.
The 47-storey towers (under constriction) will comprise 250 homes and are expected to be completed by 2023, with price ranging from 55-110 million rupees ($850,000-$1.7 million), reported the AFP.
In order to lure prospective buyers, several Indian newspapers have already published an advertisement of these luxury apartments along with an invitation to "join Mr Donald Trump Jr for a conversation and dinner" on Friday.
Of course, it is hard to understand why the son of American President is openly selling apartments in India. It is true that President Trump, a super-rich businessman from the US, already has several business interests in India even before becoming America's premier. It is also true that the US president has ceded control of the Trump Organization to his adult sons. However, he is yet to divest his assets raising concerns about a conflict of interest.
"When these sons go around all over the world talking about, one, Trump business deals and, two, ... apparently giving speeches on some United States government foreign policy, they are strongly suggesting a linkage between the two," Richard Painter, President George W Bush's chief ethics lawyer who is a professor of law at the University of Minnesota, was quoted as saying by The Atlanta. "Somebody, somewhere is going to cross the line into suggesting a quid pro quo."
Trump Jr rubbished all the allegations against his father of misusing power to push his family's business interests.
Speaking to CNBC-TV18, Trump Jr said that the criticism against the Trump Organization profiting from the presidency was "nonsense." "It's sort of a shame," he said. "Because we put on all these impositions on ourselves and essentially got no credit for actually doing that. ... for doing the right thing."
While President Trump and his family vehemently deny any wrongdoings, the latest address of India's rich people is at the state-of-the-art apartments developed under the name of American President. Hopefully, from such great heights of 'ivory tower' wealthy people could get a glimpse of poor and dying India.