Thanks to Pachauri, TERI is now a sad and sleazy little place

An arrogant man accused of sexual harassment is back the helm of the organisation, only because he is well-networked.
Thanks to Pachauri, TERI is now a sad and sleazy little place
Thanks to Pachauri, TERI is now a sad and sleazy little place
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In India, there seems to be one rule for foreigners and one for citizens, and the rules aren’t favourable to Indians. If Haryana CM Manohar Khattar said that there could be an arrangement for foreigners visiting the state to eat beef, then Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, facing sexual harassment charges has resigned from all his international posts but just got promoted at The Energy Research Institute (TERI).

At the receiving end of Dr. Pachauri’s promotion and ire is a young lady fighting against all odds to stay the course and punish Dr. Pachauri and his accomplices. This is the cruel joke that is playing out in Delhi in full view of the government of India which partially funds TERI. An internal report that bears out the allegations has been suppressed with a few leaks here and there.

There is life and then there is living. There are institutions and then there are people. There is ethics (which typically speaks to works ethics) and then there is morality which is a personal equation. TERI has failed on all three counts and it has destroyed more than a few reputations. It has held up mirrors to corporate India – the image is ugly.

Senior women The News Minute (TNM) has spoken to say omerta is the law – it is not written, therefore it is more powerful. Dr. Rajendra Pachauri is firmly back in the organisation and has tightened his grip on non-existent laws that no one can see but everybody fears. It is laughable to hear from some women in the organisation that they want the man back at the helm. When senior women do not secure space for junior women, the betrayal is of another kind – it is the betrayal of hope. How can a young woman believe older and more experienced women who claim to have broken the glass ceiling when all they have done is to save private career trajectories without any institutional responsibility? An institutional accountability that would save other women from being subjected to sexual harassment is not asking for the moon – it is a basic right, it is written into laws governing workplaces in India.

Dr. Pachauri had to resign from all international organisations pending the decision of the case he is desperately trying to influence and derail. He will most likely get a clean chit. When TERI failed to suspend him following the reporting of sexual harassment it was evident that the knives were out. It was common knowledge that Dr. Pachauri was not going to leave and he wanted either to be the chairman of TERI with executive powers or wanted the council to create a post of vice-chairman with executive powers – short hand for complete power. This is exactly what has happened. Shorn of verbiage it appears TERI’s governing council which includes Deepak Parekh, B.V. Srikantan and Naina Lal Kidwai succumbed to Dr. Pachauri’s pressures and played along thus ensuring that anyone who takes the man on will have no shoulder to lean on. This self-smearing will take a long time to fade, if it fades at all.

The complainant left the organisation claiming harassment and pressure at work. There was worse to come. Other employees were forced to approach the victim to drop her charges and make peace. Among the charges of sexual harassment in the FIR against Dr. Pachauri under IPC are Sections 354, 354 (a), 354 (d) and 506. An internal committee found him guilty but a court order stayed that report. Under normal circumstances, Dr. Pachauri should have been suspended till cleared. He used the interim period between the internal TERI report and the court order to further pressurise the lady and the governing council remained silent. The council’s guilt cannot be overstated. They are all in it together, in this case for the worse. Corporate India is perhaps as compromised as Indian media when it comes to addressing the issue of safety of women at the workplace.

People you meet when you go up will most likely be around when you come down. In an arrogant and to-hell-with rules attitude, Dr. Pachauri has managed to single-handedly destroy TERI. Yes, that is the truth. He will not be socially ostracised in India because that is the nature of sleaze and illegitimate power. But his stock is very low in other places where he was much feted and favoured. TERI is a sad and sleazy little place now.

Next time we laugh at Khattar for his foreign cow, Indian cow efforts, we would be well advised to stop grinning – the joke is on us.

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