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The most widely quoted currency amount in India these days seems to be 1.76 Lakh Crore Indian Rupees (0r 40 Billion US Dollars). The reasons for this is to known to everyone and has been discussed more than required. However, most people can't wrap their heads around this sum, because monetary amounts seem to lose meaning when quoted in large sums. So the easiest way to understand this is to put it in perspective against valued material stuff. Here is an attempt to understand what these large amounts mean:
To start with, an illustrative list of what you could buy with all that money:
1. Sri Lanka. Or mix and match from among 121 Countries - There are 121 countries in the world worth equal to or less than $40 Billion individually, and 33 countries on the bottom of the heap whose GDP add up to $40 Billion. So you can (mix and match) choose and buy till the worth of countries your shopping cart of nations add up to $40 Billion. This includes Sri Lanka, the island nation's GDP just exceeds $40 Billion..
2. 111 Airbus A380s - The sticker price for the world's largest passenger Aircraft is $350 million (INR 158o Crores). Imagine 111 of these beasts lined up! The largest single order for A380s is only 90, by Emirates, and the total is 243 orders. So far, only 56 have been constructed (All this as of 2011 January). Imagine, what Air India could have done with all that funding. No, wait. Better not. We all know where money invested in that waste of a white elephant would end up finally.
3. 23 NASA Space Shuttles - NASA has stated that the price for one of their a space shuttles is $1.7 billion (INR 7670 Crores). But what is to be done with these are best left to imagination, I guess. Maybe we can start some outer space tourism campaign with the tagline: "God's Own Space" or something like that? Anyway, with the repeated failure of the GSLV, ISRO could use some well placed funding. Maybe, we can land on the moon also in one of them!
4. 5 GRF Class Supercarriers - US Navy's next generation of ultimate aircraft carriers, the Gerald.R.Ford Class Supercarrier, costs $8.1 billion (INR 36,500 Crore) each. However, the 75 aircraft to be carried on it would cost extra. Well, we can park all those MiGs on them. At least our pilots will be safe.
5. 51 Acres of land in Monaco - The tiny Principality of Monaco, the country where the world's über-rich live and splurge, has the the higest real estate prices in the world at $17,750 (INR 8 Lakh) per square foot or $773 Million (INR 3,528 Crores) per acre. That is quite a lot of land! Should be enough to show these Mumbai/Bangalore real estate developers their right place.
6. 40 Antillas - Mukesh Ambani's ridiculous house which looks like a game of Tetris gone horribly wrong costs somewhere around a Billion. Not that why anyone would want one house like that, let alone 40. Also, the electricity bills.
7. 22 Virginia Class Nuclear Attack Submarines - Second military example here and for a reason. There is nothing better than to demonstrate what uncountably huge amounts of cash are worth than comparing it to military equipment, as they are easily the most expensive anything in the World. In addition got large number of fighter jets and aircraft carriers, the Indian Navy is woefully bereft of submarines as well, and 22 of these babies would make us almost invincible! Also, this would have been an awesome opportunity to teach those Somalian pirates a lesson or 22.
8. 70000 (approx) 400 oz (12.5 kg) Gold Bars - Yes, the kind of those glittering, heavy gold bars we have seen (only) in movies (Goldfinger, The Italian Job) and rumored to be the mainstay of the world economy. This amount would buy enough of those to fill a 20 foot shipping container. (Not that any container would support the weight of so much Gold!) Enough said.
Next, have a look at the net worth of the worlds richest people (as per Forbes)
1. Carlos Slim Helu (Mexican telecom tycoon): $53.5 Billion
2. William 'Bill' Gates III: $53 Billion
3. Warren Buffet: $47 Billion
4. Mukesh Ambani: $29 Billion
5. Lakshmi Mittal: $28.7 Billion
6. Lawrence Ellison (Oracle): $28 Billion
7. Bernard Arnault (Louis Vuitton): $27.5 Billion
Some of the most expensive (percieved) stuff in the world:
1. Most Expensive Diamond: The Cullinan I - Star of Africa is considered the most valued diamond in the world today, valued at just a 'measly' $400 Million (1797 Crore). Now if you are wondering why, there has been no value put on the Koh-i-noor, as it is considered truly priceless.
2. Most Expensive Cars: The most expensive car ever sold was a 1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe, which someone bought for $8.7 million in 1987. However, the costliest car available today on the road is the Koenigsegg Trevita, at $2.3 million apiece. You can't get one though, there will be only three of this Swedish ultra-supercar ever made. The second and currently the most expensive continuous production model is the Bugatti Veyron 6.4 Grand Sport and costs $2 million. Contrary to popular Indian belief, cars DO NOT cost much, it is another of those socialist hangovers of ours, when we could not think of anything more expensive than a car.
3. Most Expensive Yacht: The Eclipse, owned by Roman Abramovich, billionaire Russian businessman and owner of English Premier League football club Chelsea, is the most epensive private yacht in the world. It is more ship than yacht and is rumored to have cost $1.2 billion or INR 5930 crore, which includes mind-bloggling features like missile defense systems. But still, it is a pittance compared to, you know.
1. The Palm Jumeriah: Owning a piece of land in Dubai's famous project consisting of off shore man made islands is considered to be a 'status issue' among the world's celebrities. Today, the value of the entire project is supposed to be around $12.3 billion (INR 55,000 crore).
2. F1 Car: The true exact cost of an F1 car is never officially revealed, but it is assumed that the cost for building one (sum of all parts) is 2.1 million UK Pounds, or $3 million. Throw in another million for design, development and testing, and you can have one for 4 million US Dollars (18 crore). But you would have to build your own roads to drive it around, what with all our speedbreakers and potholes. But hey, there are plenty of crores left over.
3. Large Hadron Collider: The controversial tube-like thing extending 27 kilometers under Switzerland and France is used by scientists to test the behavior of sub atomic particles under high energy at high speeds or something. Doomsday sayers say that they are trying to create Black Holes on earth, which will eventually lead to the destruction of the Universe and such. What do those people know? There are so many money sucking Black Holes present in India already! Anyway, this scientific awesomeness costed $6 billion to design. Oh and yes, they found Neutrinos traveling faster than light using this thingy.
4. Channel (Euro) Tunnel: Considered to be one of the greatest engineering feats of all time, the undersea tunnel linking England and France for rail traffic was opened in 1994, and costed around $15 billion (INR 6738 crore) at the time.
If this amount were to be:
- Handed out as Rs.1000 currency notes, they would fill around 33,000 large check-in bags.
- Distributed equally among the people of India, each Indian would get INR 1500 or $33.
- Distributed among everyone in the world, each person would get around $5.5 or INR 275.
And finally, what would be the most expensive thing, ever?
The International Space Station, currently under construction in orbit somewhere above the Earth, is considered to be the costliest thing mankind has ever built, at an estimated cost of $159 billion (7 lakh crore) when completed.
As my friend Scorpiogenius pointed out in the comments, a fraction of this money would have bought about an infrastructure revolution in the country. We all know the reason India is not developing is lack of infrastructure. Roads, highways, expressways, multi-level interchanges, high-speed railways, airports, schools, hospitals.. Just look at this: The cost for the entire Golden Quadrilateral project was INR 60,000 crore or $13.3 billion. Jokes apart, imagine the progress all that money would have brought to the country!
Yep. All that is a lot of 'money'. This list can go on and on, and all the money stated above is well spent. Hope your head is numb by now, because when sums get astronomical as this, it is quite natural and it should be. So hope you have understood. It is my and your loss.
I have deliberately not gone into details on how all of the poor Indian masses could be lifted out of poverty and desperation, becuase, 1. That was not the theme of this post, 2. It requires an entire new post 3. It has been discussed enough. Anyways, our rulers are not interested in that anyway.
Happy New Year!
Disclaimer: Prices are indicative, as per exchange rates etc. The prices for the stuff shown are taken from their respective websites, given in the links. Do Not attempt to go out and buy any of these. I will not be liable for any consequences arising out of anyone doing so.