Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Indian Courts to Pachauri: No Travel For You

A man who used to joke that he lived “at 30,000 feet” is well and truly grounded. This week two courts denied the former IPCC chairman permission to leave the country.


click for source (see page 5 of the 12-page PDF)

Indian courts have, twice this week, refused to grant Rajendra Pachauri permission to travel abroad. On Monday, April 20, and again today, lawyers for the former chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) failed to persuade two different courts that he should be allowed to leave the country. The man who used to joke that he “lives at 30,000 feet” has been well and truly grounded.

Despite the fact that Pachauri stands accused of serious sexual offenses and is being investigated by the New Delhi police, he was somehow considered an appropriate person to deliver the keynote speech at the opening session of the upcoming Global Water Summit 2015 in Greece. It’s worth noting that this is not an academic conference, but a trade show organized by a trade magazine that serves the “water industry.” The Internet address (URL) for the conference is

It’s also worth noting that Ellen MacArthur – of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation – was prepared to stand next to accused sex offender Pachauri on a stage at said summit. It would seem that her desire to build a “positive future” doesn’t encompass workplaces free of egregious sexual harassment. That Pachauri’s home institute is allegedly a workplace in which the big boss has preyed on young female employees for decades, appears to be entirely irrelevant to MacArthur.

Pachauri is 74 years old. Not only did he grow up in a different era in terms of women’s rights, he has led a charmed life due to the caste into which he was born. As I’ve observed elsewhere:

Certain surnames are associated with particular Hindu castes. People with the surname Pachauri belong to the very highest caste – known as the Brahmin (see here and here).

According to this 2011 paper “brahmins form only about 5% of the population” of India and are “uniquely privileged.” In the words of the paper’s authors, brahmins

are more likely to have high education, they are more likely to have higher incomes and consumption expenditure and greater social connections…

The “continued dominance of brahmins in Indian society and economy” can, to this day, be demonstrated with hard data (see pages 20, and 45-47).

In other words, Pachauri is a member of India’s tiny economic and religious elite. In that context his imperiousness makes perfect sense. When he’s on his own turf, few people are likely to ever challenge or criticize this man. [bold added here]

This week, the Indian legal system told Pachauri that privilege has its limits.


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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 India, and other Amazon stores.



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