Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in India, donated $66 million to coronavirus aid after being slammed for ringing a bell from the balcony of his 27-story mansion to thank healthcare workers

mukesh ambani

REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

Mukesh Ambani lives in a 27-story skyscraper in Mumbai rumored to have cost $1 billion to build, making it one of the most expensive homes anywhere in the world.

India's richest man pledged to help fund humanitarian aid amid his country's growing coronavirus crisis, after a video of him taking part in a nationwide moment of celebration in honor of medical workers Sunday provoked criticism.

Mukesh Ambani plans to donate ₹500 crore ($66.7 million) to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's coronavirus emergency fund, Ambani's nonprofit Reliance Foundation announced on Twitter. The gift is in addition to the foundation's previously announced work to build a hospital exclusively for coronavirus patients in Mumbai.Advertisement

Ambani faced widespread criticism for his initial response to the virus, when his wife Nita Ambani shared a video of the billionaire ringing a bell from a glass-enclosed terrace of his mansion in Mumbai to thank front line workers for battling the virus on the streets below on Sunday evening. At Modi's request, people across India spent five minutes clapping and clanging household objects Sunday night to express their gratitude for those working on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak, The Hindustan Times reported.

Ambani's personal 27-story Mumbai skyscraper is rumored to have cost $1 billion to build, making it one of the most expensive homes anywhere in the world.

A representative of Ambani at Reliance Foundation did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment on the video or the donation.
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On Twitter, Ambani's bell-ringing was quickly called out and contrasted with what some other members of the three-comma club are doing to combat the virus. Billionaires including Bill Gates, Jack Ma, and George Soros have donated millions of dollars and supplies to coronavirus relief efforts around the world. Ambani's foundation had already contributed to the construction of a 100-bed hospital and a separate isolation center for people who tested positive for the virus before the video was posted, but observers said the donations were not enough.

 At the same time, Ambani saw his fortune sliced nearly in half over coronavirus fears. His net worth fell by 41% to $34.4 billion on March 19 alone as the virus' spread across the globe sent markets into turmoil. Ambani is now worth an estimated $39.3 billion, according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index. His fortune comes primarily from his 42% stake in energy and telecommunications conglomerate Reliance Industries, according to Bloomberg.Advertisement

The novel coronavirus has infected nearly 1 million worldwide and killed more than 50,000, including 68 Indians, since being identified in Wuhan, China, in December. Europe is now regarded as the epicenter of the outbreak, but the United States has reported more cases than any other country. And experts have said that India could become the site of one of the next large outbreaks of the virus, prompting Modi to initiate a 21-day lockdown of the country's 1.3 billion people on March 24.

 

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