Meeting Rajat Gupta at the pan IIT Bay Area Conference organised in the Silicon Valley last month was a pleasant experience. Gupta was once a business icon, philanthropist, and trusted advisor to the global elite. Then, he was found guilty of Insider Trading which shattered his reputation of decades in moments. But all this seemed not to affect Gupta’s mettle much, suggesting perhaps that he was more of a victim than a culprit. Listening to him speak was a real treat. He has been a great speaker, but this time he was speaking from his heart. About his travails during the trial that he faced, his jail sentence, his fall from grace and, most importantly, his side of the story. All these and much more has been recorded in his recently authored book, “Mind Without Fear” which details not just his rise and fall but also tells a lot about the criminal justice system of a country that is proclaimed to be a citadel of democratic principles and global champion of Human Rights. Gupta’s tale is a typical account of how societies, governments and the media react when somebody falls into the predicament of a whipping boy out of fortuitous circumstances. A classic example of “brand-a-dog-and-shoot-it” mind-set. The fallout of the recession was a good enough reason to find somebody to absorb the popular discontent. That Gupta was guilty, or not, may not be prudent to discuss here. Nor can it be ascertained. But the basic principle of criminal jurisprudence was in all probability compromised. Many believed that the sentence was pronounced rather hurriedly, as a knee jerk reaction to contain the outcome of the media trial that takes place in such cases where sensation can be built for public consumption. However, all that is history that will be forgotten in due course, but there are certain questions that remain unanswered, some issues that are unresolved, and of course some lessons that can be learnt. More than the account of the case, the book has to be read to understand how insignificant a man is in the hands of time, chance or providence, as one may choose to name. The book must not be read solely as the story of an individual,but as an insight into what recourse is left under such circumstances. “Mind without Fear” is about the resolve to keep one’s head high. It is important to remember that words emerge from the realms of truth, when the mind is without fear and the head is held high. The story of Rajat Gupta reminds one of an episode from the Ramcharit Manas in the Ayodhya kand when a perplexed Bharat questions sage Vashishtha on why Ram had to be exiled. It is to this that the sage responds that gains and losses, life and death, glory and infamy are all in the hands of providence. Whatever is destined to happen will happen. So one must face the situation as is and fearlessly. This is also what Lord Krishna tells Arjuna in the Bhagwad Geeta — ‘have faith in me and I will take away all your fears.’ Interestingly in Management, too, there exists Murphy’s law that says: “If something is to go wrong, it will go wrong”. We must realise that Truth has many facets to it, and exists in shades of Grey.
Pathak is a professor of management, writer, and an acclaimed public speaker. He can be reached at email@example.com