This blog is written by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Posts appear Monday & Wednesday.
People who once worked at Rajendra Pachauri’s TERI aren’t surprised by the sexual allegations leveled against him.
The Rajendra Pachauri case is generating a flurry of activity, including a Change.org petition launched by a former male employee of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). The four-day-old petition demands that Pachauri be removed from his position as Director General of TERI until the sexual allegations against him have been addressed by the legal system.
Needless to say, Pachauri has failed to do the honourable thing. Although he resigned as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change back in February, and left the Indian Prime Minister’s climate change council around the same time, he merely went “on leave” as TERI’s leader. Later this week, his lawyers will urge the courts to allow him to return to work via the lifting of a bail condition that prohibits him from entering TERI or communicating with its staff (see here, here, and here).
More than 250 people, primarily from India, have signed the petition calling for Pachauri’s ouster. Nearly 70 of these individuals left comments in an optional box containing a prompt that reads: I am signing because... A few of those comments are of particular interest. A person named Arnav Tomar wrote:
This is not right and not [Pachauri’s] first time. I personally know someone (won’t name ) who left TERI because of sexual harassment but did not file a complaint at that time ( which we regret till date).
A petition-signer named William A. Gracias reported that he “heard the rumours and hushed talk about Pachauri when I was working at TERI.” The website of the organization confirms that someone with this name was employed there during the years 2008 to 2011, and an online bio describes him as a mechanical engineer who works in the clean energy industry.
Chandni Sengupta has also signed the petition. As an employee of TERI between 2008 and 2010, she wrote TERI-published material, including a children’s book titled 101 Facts on Saving the Earth. On the petition website, she remarked:
I am a former employee and have been witness to the unfair and unjust treatment of employees in the organisation.
And then there’s Ramesh Menon, a journalist and documentary filmmaker who directed at least two films for TERI – the 2002 Global Warning! climate change awareness doc and the 2004 Slow Poisoning of India film about excessive pesticide use. In addition to writing an article about the Pachauri case for the latest edition of India Legal magazine titled “Veil of Silence,” Menon signed the petition and left the following comment:
I have been a witness to the harassment of young helpless girls who do not want to lose their job at TERI. If we do not stand up today, it may be our daughter who will pay the price tomorrow.
A May 13 story in the Economic Times suggests that Pachauri was unsuccessful in his attempt, last week, to reinstate a ban on media reporting of this case. However, the article implies that legal arguments in this regard are ongoing.
Meanwhile, the 29-year-old female complainant who blew the whistle on Pachauri while many other victims apparently suffered in silence has asked the court to revoke Pachauri’s bail. If she is successful, he will be taken into police custody.
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.