Top critical review
Good in parts
20 May 2019
Mind without fear : Rajat Gupta
OK..we all know about the much storied life of Rajat Gupta. Bright middle class boy, went to IIT, then the Harvard School of Business and build a spectacularly successful career in McKinsey and Co….culminating in his being the managing partner for 3 terms ( 9 years). He also did India proud with his public service…..founding the Indian School of Business against all odds, his contribution to the Public Health Foundation and multiple other NGOs / Charitable organizations across the world. He was the ultimate poster boy…a shining example of what intelligence when harnessed well and coupled with hardwork, can do to a person’s life. We were all proud of his professional and public service accomplishments. We basked in his reflected glory and convinced ourselves that India and Indians have arrived finally on the global stage.
Then the dream run skids into a mess as he is hauled up by the American justice system for insider trading….accused of passing on insider information to his friend and business associate , lands up in jail and finally released end of 2016…..and there in hangs a tale.
He is out of jail now and a free man once again and he tries to set the record straight by giving his story to the world…..and possibly redeem himself.
Part 1 of the book where he speaks of his childhood till his entry into McKinsey is inspiring. It will serve as a beacon to anyone who wants to do well in life.
Ditto with part 2. His meteoric rise in possibly one of the world’s most competitive systems is equally inspiring.. His uber spectacular career in Mckinsey is topped up by a string of high profile and high impact philanthropic initiatives where Gupta leveraged his corporate networks and good will for public good…
So far, so good….somewhere down the line, he meets Raj Rathinam ( currently serving term in a US jail), Wharton educated, stock broker, hedge fund manager, billionaire, a role model for South Asian diaspora - decides to invest with him in a fund ( he gets cheated in the end…which is a different story). His involvement with him goes beyond a business partnership – he kind of becomes his doppelganger ….sharing professional insights, seeking advice on career moves – and when the dodgy Raj Rathinam is being investigated for some suspected stock market shenanigans , Rajat Gupta’s calls to him get taped….and he is hounded by the ever vigilante attorney from New York… Preet Bharara…and convicted finally.
The arugements of Rajat Gupta that he never made money out of the information he shared with people whom he is not supposed to (not unproven…we have to go by Mr Gupta’s stance), that the US justice system made him a poster boy of Wall Street crime where as guys responsible for the bigger messes (remember the melt down and the financial crisis) got away free, that his outstanding public service record was not considered while deciding his case….and many more such arguments…..seem faulty. Our respect and admiration for Mr Gupta comes down a couple of notches. He seems more righteous than right.
He seems to be a poor judge of people’s character….especially the ones that he got involved deeply….most of them either rat on him or cheat or do not stand by him when he needs their support - the dodgy Raj Rathinam, Anil Kumar Gupta…the McKinsey partner who was his protégé, his successor in McKinsey who withdraws privileges eligible for ex CEOs, the Goldman Sachs Chairman’s unwillingness to stand by him……doesn’t reflect too well on a man’s discerning skills when entering into relationships. People skills doesn’t seem to be his forte.
I also have issues with the positioning of the book as the autobiography of a self-less karmic yogi who has been wronged. The title itself…borrowed from Rabindranath Tagore’s timeless classic, each chapter starting with a verse from Geetanjali ( Gurudev’s famous work)…and too many allusions to Bhagwad Gita ( a full chapter on it). Book seems to be directed towards his Indian audience.
Read the book as an motivational guide…on what you can do with your life and what you should not.
The book is like the proverbial curate’s egg….Good in parts.
My rating: 3/5