By Betwa Sharm
In 1970, a young student at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, played the role of Trishanku, an ancestor of Ram, who was barred from entering heaven in human form and left suspended between the earth and the sky. That student was Rajat Gupta, who became India's trail blazer on Wall Street.
After four decades of extraordinary success, Gupta, 63, stands accused of leaking confidential information about investment bank Goldman Sachs and consumer products giant Procter & Gamble. The six counts of security fraud and one of conspiracy slapped on Gupta could, in theory, attract 125 years in prison.
"It's like he is Trishanku again…fallen from heaven and no longer accepted on earth," says Sandip Bhatia, who also acted in that play. Now the head of a Mumbai-based technology-consulting firm, Bhatia would come to admire his fellow actor during the weeks of rehearsals. "A role model and someone known to help others," he says.
But many others have dissociated themselves from Gupta. His name was also dropped from the list of illustrious alumni for the 2012 Pan-IIT global conference.
However, a loyal band of Gupta's supporters remains, well, loyal. They say it is his bad luck to be made a scapegoat since insider trading is quite rampant. They express outrage at the charges. "He was never greedy," says Surinder Sharma, who was in the soccer team with Gupta at IIT and now runs an energy-management company in Toronto. "He showed a lot of integrity when we were sweating in the field."
After graduating as a gold medallist from IIT in 1971, Gupta attended Harvard Business School. Following a long stint with McKinsey & Company, which he joined in 1973, he became its global head. Over the years, the corporate icon also came to be respected for his philanthropic work, such as setting up the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, raising $1 billion in relief funds after the Gujarat earthquake in 2001, and his campaign against malaria and AIDS.
Gupta, who lives in Westport, Connecticut with wife Anita Mattoo, a fellow IITian, and four daughters, was applauded for attaining the American dream yet remaining an Indian at heart. Jay Mandal, his photographer, was often invited to Gupta's palatial house near the ocean. "He picked me up from the station and told me his wife cooked well," says Mandal. "He isn't just another corporate guy, but a humble and loving family man." (Article continues on next page...)
| RAJAT KUMAR GUPTA|
BORN: December 2, 1948
PLACE OF BIRTH: Maniktala, Kolkata
EDUCATION: Modern School, New Delhi, 1966;B. Tech (Mechanical Engineering), IIT Delhi, 1971; MBA, Harvard Business School, 1973
CAREER1973: Joins McKinsey1973-81: McKinsey's New York office1981-86: Scandinavia office, Copenhagen1986-89: Chicago office1989-94: Managing Director, Chicago office1994-2003: Managing Director, McKinsey & Co, its first born outside the US2007: Retires from McKinsey as Senior Partner Emeritus
CURRENT QUAGMIREMARCH 2011: US SEC files complaint against Gupta for insider trading; Gupta sues SEC, sayings its action deprived him of a jury trial
AUGUST 2011: SEC and Gupta agree to drop actions against each other
OCTOBER 2011: Gupta arrested, US attorney's office files criminal charges against him, he is freed on a $10 million bond
MAY 21, 2012: Trial begins