Rajat Gupta has hogged headlines over the past twenty odd years – he has championed that art. While his educational background without doubt has been exemplary, his consulting advisory was not necessarily so. McKinsey & Co.’s way of focus on core competency – and divesting from diversification strategies – necessarily has been one of the most debatable strategies that he represented during his tenure at the firm. Actually, it is one of those strategies that have given consultants the reputation of being people who take your watch and tell you the time; there is no strategy in this strategy. McKinsey’s consultants, of course, have championed such strategies and theories which are arguably of no great significance or research. I’m reminded of the book In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman – two McKinsey consultants – written on the basis of research that Tom Peters himself later admitted was concocted. Rajat’s stint post McKinsey has been clearly far more controversial due to the more obvious frauds. And now that he has been found guilty of insider trading, the Indian media in particular is hell-bent on portraying it as an example of a perfect ‘American Dream’ gone sour. The question is, is that so?

The key reasons behind the Rajat Gupta saga are endless greed and an endless chase for more – causes championed by the father of capitalism Adam Smith and post-Smith wannabe champions of capitalism’s cause like Ayn Rand and the likes; of courses, causes made famous much later by the character of Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street with his powerful line “Greed is good”. As long back as one looks, the causes of all American, as well as capitalism-related ills have been this endless greed and craving for more. In the 1630s, there was the first recorded case of greed related capitalist madness in the form of Tulipomania, when the Dutch thought that the whole world would be so impressed by their tulips that there would be an endless demand for tulips. At one point of time, a tulip bulb of no apparent worth could be exchanged for a “new carriage, two grey horses and a complete harness”, that is, $100,000 in terms of the contemporary value of money. Then was the 1849 ‘California Gold Rush’ which did develop California but killed more than a hundred thousand native Indians inhumanly. Obviously, people ended up losing money in the mad rush. Then there was the great Florida real estate boom in the 1920s when thousands were left homeless due to the mad rush for buying real estate in places which were simply not habitable and the subsequent asset crash. This was followed by the Great Depression of 1929. And yes, our generation saw the dot com bust and the massive recession of 2008. Capitalism has been full of such desperate situations because the ‘great dream’ of becoming rich overnight is always hanging like a carrot in front of us. But the reality is that only some people might make it while the majority will suffer and the bust is always round the corner.  Read More....

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