His fall from grace may have been spectacular but Gupta, now 70, is keen to move on, without any regrets.
The India-born former Goldman Sachs director served 19 months in a US jail for insider trading and was released in 2016.
Gupta was found guilty in 2012 of passing confidential boardroom information about Goldman Sachs to the then hedge fund manager and founder of the Galleon Group, Raj Rajaratnam.
Gupta, also the former managing director of management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company, was in town to talk about the lessons learnt in prison, and to share a few home truths about India.
“They always wanted to kill your spirit, which they did by sending you to solitary confinement for random things,” recalled Gupta of his time as an inmate.
Despite an experience he describes as “horrible”, he refuses to give in to bitterness and anger, and is willing to forgive.
“You can’t control what happens to you but you can control how you react to it. People who treated me unfairly, that’s their issue, not mine.”
Initially determined to testify at his trial, Gupta admits he succumbed to fear.
“I had wanted to narrate my side of the story, but my lawyers said that I shouldn’t — this, I found, was usually the advice which lawyers in the US would give their clients,” he said.
“Then, I saw the prosecutors spin a story which wasn’t accurate. They were repeating untruths, inundating the jury with details that had no relevance to the case. “I felt demoralised and defeated by the proceedings — not that the outcome would have been different had I testified.”
That’s all in the past. The future, for Gupta, might involve a bit of angel investing. He is all praise for the “extraordinary” entrepreneurial energy of the startups here, an energy he thinks is innate in Indians.
“But for all the talent we have, we haven’t been able to create as much IP (intellectual property) as we should have,” he believes.
“We’re great at IT services but we haven’t created a Google or a Sapient — there hasn’t been a truly global brand that has come out of India. But some of it is starting to happen – that revolution is just starting.”
Still, such a revolution won’t happen without Indians aiming for academic excellence. Because, despite their eminence, the nation’s top institutes fi-gure nowhere in the global rankings.
“None of our IITs and IIMs is in the world top-100, which is very sad,” Gupta rued. “The value that the IITs and IIMs should have added is not as high as it could have been.”
Further, and more importantly, India will struggle to realise her potential, feels Gupta, without universal access to healthcare and education. To these ends, he is happy to contribute. And it’s less about redemption, more to do with giving back.