At the turn of the millennium, Rajeev Gupta began reading a little bit on environmental issues and very quickly, he was interested in knowing more. “I wanted to know how an ordinary citizen could contribute to having a better environment,” he says.
The starting point was in planting more trees, which slowly led to a serious gardening pursuit. For an investment banker, known to have cut many a complex deal, this was serious business. Today, two hours of every Sunday morning is devoted to his garden at his Bandra residence. This is Mumbai’s leafiest suburb and Gupta concedes that is the key reason for living in this part of the city.
The gardening extends to the rest of the compound in the building and the lane where the building is situated. The garden has ornamental plants, while the compound grows a host of fruits that include jamun, guava, chiku and mangoes. “Over a 100 trees have been planted in Union Park as well,” he says. Gupta has a trusted aide who comes in during the week to supervise the garden. Given Gupta’s frenetic work schedule that involves a lot of travel, the Sunday morning ritual in the garden is sacrosanct. The last couple of years have been extremely busy after he decided to start his own company, Arpwood Capital, with former colleagues.
There is a bit of a background to the interest in the environment. Growing up in Jammu, Gupta was exposed to greenery, which was in stark contrast to the country’s financial capital. That link to Jammu remains and he makes a trip there every two to three months. There is a large garden at his home there and another one spread over three acres, not far from where he lives, where he is the caretaker. “I grow plums, sweet limes and lemons there. These are not be plucked,” he says even as he quickly shows pictures of that apart from a new lily.
What does gardening really mean to him apart from giving the much needed time away from a packed work schedule? “Environmental degradation as an issue troubles me. I look at it as a way to address that concern and a path to preserve the nature,” explains Gupta. He continues to read a lot on environment and the Rally for Rivers, an initiative by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, is again an area of interest. “There is a huge opportunity to plant trees along the rivers in the J&K region,” he says. The enthusiasm in his voice is evident when he speaks of how much more can be done with the environment. “We take so much from it and this is my small way of giving back,” he sums up.