Sunday, October 28, 2012

A follow-up on the Rajat Gupta story: Checks and balances for the free market

In the two year sentencing accorded to Rajat Gupta on October 24, 2012, the judge Jed Rakoff noted  “He [Rajat Gupta] is a good man,… But the history of this country and the history of the world are full of examples of good men who did bad things.”

The stories of the trial point to the large number of character certificates that had poured in for Gupta, citing his global track records and his history of doing good deeds.

Rajat Gupta and his global networks

News reports documented the broader context, setting up the case for the character of Mr. Gupta.

It seems that the news reports much like judge Rakoff operate on a worldview that differentiates between between good and bad on the basis of the logics of power.

The very discussion of whether Gupta is a good man or not enters into the discursive space because of his networks of power and because of his ability to manipulate these networks to achieve specific goals.

That Bill Gates writes in letters to the judge attests to the power exerted by Gupta and his social networks.

The connection between Gupta's good deeds say at Gates or with Clinton and his bad deeds with inside trading is pretty evident, and yet hidden. This connection is one of power and the ability to utilize one's social networks to exert the power in order to accomplish things.

The connection between the good and bad aspects of Gupta's deeds is also one of arrogance embodied in the sense of expertise and entitlement.

This is also the same sense of entitlement that works through leadership positions at consulting firms such as McKinsey (once led by Gupta), that operate on the basis of making knowledge claims and being able to sell these knowledge claims as guidelines for action.

This is the very arrogance that constitutes the many decisions made by the Gates Foundation (bypassing governments and state public health infrastructures), once headed by Gupta.

The neoliberal knowledge economy operates on the notion that one can have expert knowledge that they are entitled to, and that they can manipulate this expert knowledge in ways that are conducive to their goals/agendas without points of accountability.

There is a clear link between Gupta's indictment for insider trading, his leadership with Gates Foundation, and his leadership at McKinsey.

This link is one of unquestioned power with a minimal sense of accountability to the state and to juridical structures. Global consulting organizations such as McKinsey work precisely on this link, utilizing the framework of the free market to minimize the structures of accountability that would hold such unquestioned power in check.

Ultimately, the ability to hold Gupta accountable is tied to the ability of the State and the juridical structures to put in place frameworks  that interrogate and limit the freedom of the market in tangible terms.

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