Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise has been watching the climate world since 2009. What she sees isn't pretty.

Woman #2’s Story

Rajendra Pachauri’s TERI institute appears to be a workplace in which female employees are habitually invited to spend private time with the boss.

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In 2007, Nature published a lengthy profile of Rajendra Pachauri. Written by Gabrielle Walker, it says Pachauri’s staff “love him” and consider him a “hero.” Click for a PDF of that article.

The complete text of a statement authored by a second woman who claims she was victimized by Rajendra Pachauri can be read online here. It includes a long list of disturbing allegations against the head of the TERI institute and chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Pachauri, aged 74, denies accusations described in a police complaint filed on February 13 by a 29-year-old TERI employee. He says the print-outs of text messages and e-mails included in that complaint are the work of “unknown cyber criminals.” We are meant to believe that hackers have been in control of Pachauri’s electronic devices for more than 17 months.

This second woman’s statement is highly inconvenient to Pachauri’s explanation, since it describes his alleged behaviour ten years ago. Presumably, his phone hasn’t been hacked for a full decade. Even if that were the case, the vast majority of these allegations have nothing to do with electronic devices.

Instead, they paint a picture of a workplace in which the man in charge views female subordinates as his personal dating pool. Ongoing harassment, unwelcome physical contact, and demeaning treatment is apparently the norm.

For at least a decade, TERI appears to have been a workplace whose most senior official felt entitled to call women on their personal mobile phones after hours and during holidays. In which women were asked personal questions about their love life. In which they were continually groped, pestered, and invited to spend private time with Pachauri. And in which their complaints to other TERI personnel were brushed aside.

In her statement, Woman #2 mentions the following:

  1. physical advances
  2. sexual innuendos
  3. lifting female employees into the air (some ran away, some “coyly obliged,” some cringed, some cussed under their breath)
  4. references by Pachauri to his athletic prowess/virility
  5. calls to personal mobile phone numbers after hours and on holidays
  6. inquires about personal lives with boyfriends and husbands
  7. invitations for wine and dinner
  8. hand-holding
  9. hugging
  10. kissing
  11. the use of a nickname rather than her proper name
  12. the promise of a pool membership if she’d join him for weekend swims
  13. after her resignation, a threat that she might not be permitted to leave the country due to the intercession of his friends

Woman #2 says that, 10 years ago, she talked to TERI colleagues

including the women who comprised the [Human Resources] team, about doing a joint petition, an internal complaint. Seeing that the women at [Human Resources] were themselves subjected to such harassment did not instill much confidence in the exercise but it would at least go on record… [ellipses in original]

Woman #2 continues:

Having mustered some courage, I complained to the then administrative head, essentially the side-kick to [the] Big Boss. Side-kick refused to believe me, saying that I may have misread [Pachauri’s] warmth, that such things had never been reported, requested me to end the matter there and started to show me a meditative, self-help magazine that he subscribed to.

Around that time, I gained admission at a university abroad. Since I quit the organisation, I was relieved that this was the end of this ugly episode.

Not quite. When he saw my resignation letter, [Pachauri] threatened: “From the airport to the University you are headed to, I have friends at every step. Let’s see if you manage to leave the country.”

All this happened ten years back. So why am I speaking up now?  I had little courage then, but it feels like I have more now… [bold added; ellipses in original]

In 2007, shortly after Woman #2 had escaped TERI, Nature published a glowing profile of Pachauri. Written by Gabrielle Walker, it assured us that “his staff love him.” She describes a dramatically different workplace – one in which Pachauri is “a hero to his employees.”

One wonders what the female subordinates on whom this man has allegedly been preying thought when they read such words.

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Donna Laframboise is a Canadian investigative journalist and author of the 2013 book, Into the Dustbin: Rajendra Pachauri, the Climate Report & the Nobel Peace Prize. See Amazon.com, Amazon India, and other Amazon stores.

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