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The News Minute | December 26, 2014 | 8.34 pm IST What does one do when one hears of inappropriate or possibly illegal conduct? The accusations against Tarun Tejpal are being discussed again. Except this time, the focus is not really Tejpal himself, but Tejpal’s former editor, Vinod Mehta. Mehta was Tejpal's editor for seven years at Outlook.  On Friday, several people on Twitter, especially journalists were discussing remarks that the former editor of Outlook magazine made in his new book Editor Unplugged. Here is an image of what he said about Tejpal: All I know is Tejpal possibly assaulted young interns while working on my team , says Vinod Mehta in his new book pic.twitter.com/dhh6ifIaLl — Aman Sethi (@Amannama) December 26, 2014 Mehta is essentially saying that he had heard that Tejpal might have used his official position to obtain sexual favours, and that there was no “crisis in the office” as there had been no official complaint. Many on twitter have said that use of official position to obtain sexual favours is sexual harassment, and Mehta has attracted much criticism for these remarks as it indicated that he knew there was a possibility of inappropriate behaviour that could even be a criminal offence. @Amannama Vinod Mehta's comments r puke-inducing. Mr charming sexual aura needs 2 use his official position 2 hit on women?WoW @Moneylifers — Sucheta Dalal (@suchetadalal) December 26, 2014 Mehta’s language in saying this is highly problematic, not least because the alllegations against Tejpal are yet to be decided by a court, and the media have gone overboard in conducting an out of court trial. An excerpt: “All I know is that Tarun was known to use his official position to hit on interns and juniors for both consensual and presumably non-consensual carnal favours. I got a whiff of his style when he was working for me. But since no formal complaint was brought to my notice we did not have a crisis in the office.” He also quotes William Dalrymple as saying that Tejpal had an "exceedingly charming sexual aura". Dalrymple later tweeted:  I've never said the quote attributed to me in Vinod Mehta's book &have asked for it be deleted from future editions. https://t.co/gdODYmlgke — William Dalrymple (@DalrympleWill) December 26, 2014 @Amannama misdemeanors and felonies cease to be so if not reported? It continued to happen under his nose n Vinod Mehta did nothing. — Priti Shaw (@shawpri) December 26, 2014 The sheer range of sexual encounters an adult person could have or might like to have is vast, often reined in by an equally large number of factors including a lack of opportunity or respect for the object of one’s desire to say no. But adults can and do cross the boundaries of strictly heterosexual, monogamous, marital, and appropriate relationships and explore both sex and relationships outside of it. This also includes sexual encounters at the workplace.  @Amannama @nikhilnarayanan any 'consent' in such a case is by default not applicable - since one of them is in a position of power. — Naren Balaji (@narenbalaji) December 26, 2014 Given that our society is very hierarchical, it is only natural that workplaces too have their hierarchies and power structures. Add ambition and aspirations to these and what you have, are complex people who are motivated to do what they do by various factors.  @suchetadalal @Amannama @Moneylifers from his admission it looks like many knew abt rapist #tejpal incl. women editors. what did they do??? — सौरभ भारती(Shaurabh) (@sbharti) December 26, 2014 Everyone does things they do not like, or cross lines they do not wish to cross. There is also the possibility of someone changing their mind midway about such an encounter due to personal confusion about morality or even nervousness, and what might have begun as a consensual thing, could change into something else. How then, do we judge the appropriateness (or illegality) or lack of it, of sexual behaviour at the workplace in the absence of a complaint? How do we establish an offence in the absence of a complaint? Should we nonetheless act on information we may know, in the interest of the employees and colleagues that we work with and are supposed to look out for?  @suchetadalal @Amannama @Moneylifers Its shocking he didnt reprimand Tejpal at all for years! — Reem (@reemsaied) December 26, 2014 Many people, including journalists on twitter, are of the opinion that if Mehta had suspicions, he should have acted on that knowledge. Many also expected better behaviour and judgment from journalists. Much of the opinion on Mehta's remarks is based on people's perception about the allegations against Tejpal. Many people have already made up their minds about Tejpal - for some he is guilty, and for others he is not. wonder how many girls and women left promising careers and jobs in the media, never to return. #SexualHarrassment — Harini Calamur (@calamur) December 26, 2014 Calling this Harassment also makes it so bland - it is so many more things - breach of faith, trust, of morality . but those r old fashioned — Harini Calamur (@calamur) December 26, 2014 @suchetadalal @Amannama @Moneylifers given how close @madhutrehan is to #tejpal, did she know abt it?? newslaundry had defended #tejpal thn — सौरभ भारती(Shaurabh) (@sbharti) December 26, 2014 The nature of Mehta’s remarks brings to mind Sudhir Mishra’s film Inkaar. Chitrangada Singh and Arjun Rampal play advertising executives. Rampal sort of mentors Singh and the pair have a relationship as well. Somewhere along the way, Singh begins to think that Rampal was harassing her and even lodges a complaint of sexual harassment against him. The workplace committee is hard put to understand the complicated nature of their relationship. The film does not offer any easy answers. But it has done its job of asking questions. @bhadravathi Thats called 'suo motto' Its the respblty of head of orgn 2initiate action ag suspected culprit evn if thr no comp @shabanais — chadasastry (@sastrychada) December 26, 2014 The answer perhaps lies in ensuring that we dismantle all kinds of hierarchies in society, ones that place certain individuals in power over others. The real question, then, is how do we achieve this? Tweet  Follow @thenewsminute
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