This is a message allegedly sent in mid-October, 2013, by the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, to a 29-year-old female staffer at his TERI think-tank: “Here I am sitting and chairing an IPCC meeting and surreptitiously sending you messages. I hope that tells you of my feelings for you.”
The IPCC meeting was the 37th Plenary Session, at the Sheraton in the seaside resort of Batumi, Georgia. It was attended by 229 politicians and officials from 92 countries, plus the usual conservation and activist hangers-on and free-loaders. TERI stands for The Energy and Resources Institute, which has 1200 staff. Pachauri, 74, has been Teri’s Director General for 34 years, almost since its inception. He has also led the IPCC for 13 years.
The TERI staffer, 43 years his junior, was so much on Pachauri’s mind that he allegedly continued to pursue her until she filed a 33-page harassment case last February 13. He resigned abruptly from the IPCC on February 24.
The emissions-reduction campaign sponsored by the IPCC is currently a $US1 billion-a-day exercise. But obviously Pachauri wasn’t taking it all that seriously in the five-day Georgia talk-fest.
After the event, the IPCC put out a press release saying Pachauri “opened the session on Monday morning noting the need to view climate change in the larger context, including its impacts on future generations and the planet, and emphasizing the IPCC’s role in mobilizing the world’s best scientific talent and bringing climate change to the public’s attention. He stressed that the IPCC’s work is more relevant, robust and reliable than ever to policy makers.”
Let’s hope he was fully focused on that stuff, and not on his text blitz to a reluctant “Classical Indian Beauty”.
The IPCC conference went on to ratify two greenhouse gas inventory protocols, and start “initial discussions on mapping the future of the IPCC”. In other words: Don’t laugh, the IPCC is all seriousness.
Pachauri in his resignation letter brags that he has led the IPCC for 13 years, almost half the IPCC’s life (he began work for the IPCC as a lead author in 1995). He spoke about IPCC workers’ efforts as “a priceless asset which forms the foundation of its unmatched contributions to global society” as the IPCC “always scaled new heights of excellence”. He says, “It was a blessing and a rare moment of glory for the scientific community and me when I received the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the IPCC in 2007.” He’d really meant to quit after the Fifth IPCC synthesis report was published in late 2014, “but close friends and colleagues advised me against that action…For me, the protection of Planet Earth, the survival of all species and sustainability of our ecosystems is more than a mission. It is my religion and my dharma.”
He went on that for reasons not stated, he can no longer give the IPCC his full attention and hence would resign on February 24: “The greatest joy of working as an elected official of the IPCC lies in not receiving any monetary compensation in return, which elevates this mission to a level of sublime satisfaction.”
There is no recognition in this letter of his numerous gaffes such as blasting an Indian glaciologist, Vijay Raina, as a “voodoo” scientist for correctly noting the IPCC’s 2007 melting-Himalaya-glaciers howler; he concedes that he is motivated by religion rather than science; and his humble-brag about working without pay is ridiculous, given the perks and global adulation he enjoyed as chairman. That includes at least 23 honorary doctorates (e.g. from UNSW) and honors like “The Green Crusader Award” (Mumbai); Aztec Eagle (Mexico); White Rose of Finland; and Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star (Japan).
Pachauri deposed to the courts this month that after being notified of the harassment complaint, he suddenly realised that his social accounts had been hacked and were used to send objectionable matter to his TERI staffer. He had never authored such texts, Pachauri insisted. Indeed, he had filed complaints with police that very same day about the purported hacking. but the staffer was unmoved. Although he had let her know about the hacking, she still planned to go public in the press. “The effect of the publication would be to give success to the conspiracy which is aimed to destroy the reputation, standing, goodwill and repute of the plaintiff (Pachauri),” he deposed. “The plaintiff (Pachauri) is being targeted by various vested interests.”
He also told the courts: “My computer resources including my email ids, mobile phone and WhatsApp messages have been hacked and that unknown cyber criminals have gone ahead and have unauthorisedly accessed my computer resources and communication devices and further committed various criminal activities.”
This led to a press-gagging order, shortly thereafter lifted by the Delhi High Court. Granted bail, the court also barred him from leaving India or entering his office while police investigate the accusations.
Police have been investigating Pachauri under four sections of the Indian Penal Code. These concern sexual assault, harassment, stalking, and criminal intimidation/threats. If convicted, Pachauri could face maximum prison sentences of two, three, or seven years.
On Monday Feb 22, a New Delhi court granted Pachauri protection from arrest until Thursday. Pachauri’s legal team then said Pachauri had been hospitalised with cardiac issues and a urinary tract infection. But neither in statements by the IPCC that week, nor in Pachauri’s resignation letter on Tuesday, were health problems mentioned.
Clearly, this hacking of his email, phone, Whatsapp and social networking accounts must have been an elaborate and sustained activity since September, 2013, but undetected by Pachauri. It would be a world-record hack in variety and form. And yet the hackers could think of no more damaging work than inventing love-notes to a junior female staffer. It might have been more damaging to have released his entire email output, a la Climategate.
Pachauri’s hacking allegation must also include the forgery of his handwriting since the staffer has turned in such a note to police. And even assuming the hacking and hand-writing forger succeeded, the staffer’s own testimony of Pachauri propositioning and touching her is outside the scope of any hacking.
The woman’s oral testimony to police took more than 90 minutes.
“On many occasions, Dr Pachauri forcibly grabbed my body, hugged me, held my hands, kissed me and touched my body in an inappropriate manner,” the woman’s statement says.
The woman started work with TERI on September 1 , 2013. Within a week Pachauri was texting her at 9.22pm and she was telling him to back off.
He then wrote: “I shall try to suppress my human feelings, and live with a sad restraint on my words and actions. “
The alleged texts include:
Sep 17, 2013 – Pachauri: “I never want to make you uncomfortable even if it requires curbing my own instincts. “
Sep 17 – complainant: “I can’t and don’t wish to be just a pretty face in your office. That hurts and is a bit demoralizing. I’m much inexperienced and nowhere near where you are. I will never do anything out of line with my conscience or take advantages…”
Oct 1 – Pachauri: “Just to prove to you how much I love you, I shall go on a fast after the cricket match tomorrow. I will break the fast only when you tell me that you believe I love you with sincerity and unfathamable depth.”
Oct 1 – complainant: “I do believe you and you know it but I felt a little isolated. Please you are not to grab me and/or kiss me.”
10:21 pm – Pachauri: All right we have our respective perceptions which differ, and we can live with them and also let live. Perhaps some day you would know how sweet and sublime my feelings for you are! I shall not call off my fast till you fully believe that sacred truth.
10:28 pm – Pachauri: All right! I’ve got the message. I wish you would see the difference between something tender and loving and something crass and vulgar. You obviously don’t! So I shall slink away and withdraw! Farewell my sweet [the complainant’s name]. But I insist on the fast just to hear you say that you believe I really love you !
10:35 pm – Pachauri: Besides I want to punish myself for alienating you!
10:36 pm – Pachauri: And losing the most wonderful girl I’ve ever met!
Oct 2 – Pachauri: “I hope you are cool and far from nerve-wrecked. If it is any comfort at all I want to assure you that I love you in the most sublime, wholesome and genuine way. Never would I do anything to you or for you that you don’t consider supremely beautiful!”
Oct 2 – complainant: “I am a little less nerve-wrecked now and I hope you eat something now. Have a good trip to Poland Dr Pachauri and I’ll see you next week.”
Oct 10 – Pachauri: “Yes, I would love you physically, only because I love you in all the other aspects. I, there, would find it difficult to touch you except to kiss your hand.”
Oct 10 – Pachauri: “I find it now very difficult to hug you. What haunts me are your words from the last time that I ‘grabbed’ your body. That would apply to someone who would want to molest you. I loved you in the soul, mind, heart…”
Nov 14 – Pachauri: “You came to me at the loss of your earlier job as a measure of desperation…In the context of your injury, what faith have you shown in me? You have been going to the gym against my explicit advise…[sic] Even you must know that even if I don’t marry you, I am yours for life. “
Nov 24 – complainant: “If you have the hots for someone you do. It doesn’t mean you love them. Love is different. Sex is…beautiful and enjoyed only when you are with the right person. I can’t love everyone. You have had two one-night stands. I have only gone to bed with whom I have dated, not just had sex with someone I have had one dinner with…”
Sanjeev Sabhlok, an Indian civil servant now working in Melbourne, has blogged, “It is frightening that a staggering number of men would have deep faith in a woman’s fear of social stigma and hence assume that they won’t make an ordeal like this public … It is true, reporting sexual violence is traumatic, defeating and tiring and it’s a choice that is very tempting to skip…The young TERI research associate has taken a firm step in the right direction.”
Adding to Pachauri’s woes, a second woman and her lawyers told the Calcutta Telegraph on February 22 that Pachauri at TERI had been a serial harasser of women staff with touchings and contacts they considered loaded with sexual innuendos. There now appears to be five TERI women complaining, two named and three speaking not-for-attribution.
The second woman’s testimony relates to when she worked at TERI in 2005.
Her complaint appears below:
A sexual harasser then ten years back, a sexual harasser today. He did it to me and others then. He has done it to her and possibly others, now.
His physical advances and sexual innuendoes and acts, often reduced to as “inappropriate behaviour”, have been common knowledge and corridor gossip.
Of the most common and public sight of such behaviour by him that many of us vividly recall was performed on the floor where his office is located and is home to a manicured roof-top garden and badminton court. These evening sessions would often draw to a close with high-tea, and many a times with him lifting a female employee as if they were little girls. Some would run away seeing him approach them. A few coyly obliged. Some cringed, or muttered cuss words under their breath.
Many of us have heard him talk about how he could run, play cricket and score run seven in his ripe age: the sub-textual allusion was his physical strength or, really, virility.
Privately, many of us had undergone one, some or all of this experience/s: telephone calls at personal mobile number during non-office hours and holidays; inquiries about personal life with “boyfriend”, “husband”; invitations for wine and dinners, and hand holding, hugs or kisses. Sometimes, he would call me by a “nickname”, a derivative of my official name.
Once, he called me to his room to discuss some work but picked up a coffee-table book. He thumbed the pages of what was an architectural design catalogue with designs of swimming pools and gardens. I was still waiting for where he was going with it. What followed was startling: he promised to get me a certain Foundation’s pool membership if I would care to join him for swims on the weekends.
I remember suggesting to some colleagues, including the women who comprised the H.R. team, about doing a joint petition, an internal complaint. Seeing that the women at H.R. were themselves subjected to such harassment did not instill much confidence in the exercise but it would at least go on record….
Having mustered some courage, I complained to the then administrative head, essentially the side-kick to Big Boss. Side-kick refused to believe me, saying that I may have misread his 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, he 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…
Please read this public testimony as my attempt to reach out to you, anonymous complainant, as well as all women who may have at some point or the other been subjected to similar, or less or more harassment by him.
Another former employee who did not want to be named said that such inappropriate behaviour was commonplace at the office, and the women working in the director-general’s office — mostly researchers, scientists and academics — were referred to as the “fifth-floor girls” by the office grapevine.
At one point of time or another, the employee claimed, these women would get calls on their personal mobile numbers, enquiries on their personal lives, invitations for wine and dinners, handholding and kisses.
All these women, including the complainant, would have a nickname given to them by him — a derivative of their official name, the testimonial claimed.
A sycophantic piece by journalist Gabrielle Walker in Nature in 2007 gave this vignette of TERI/IPCC leader Pachauri, about how “his staff love him”:
He doesn’t keep his work ethic to himself. Everyone at TERI is expected to show just as much dedication. Arrive even a few minutes late and you are likely to be greeted with a dry “good afternoon”, whether you clocked off at six or at midnight. Do it several days in a row and you will receive an e-mail from the director-general reminding you of the values of hard work and discipline. And his staff love him for it. He was a hero to his employees long before the rest of the world took note. Although he has begged them to call him by his name, he is always “Sir”, even when he’s not in the room.
Nature itself gushed in an editorial:
“It is easy to miss the energy beneath [Pachauri’s] calm assertiveness — an energy that, although now tied firmly to ‘the cause’, surely predates it. Five years ago both his detractors and those supporting him under a misapprehension missed that passion, and the get-things-done focus that it powers.”
Pachauri in 2010 published a novel Return to Almora in which his alter ego, Dr Sanjay Nath, stars as a randy ecologist.
In the first chapter, an American woman undresses and slips under the sheets: “It’s cold, Sandy. Come and keep me warm…
“She removed her gown, slipped off her nightie and slid under the quilt on his bed… Sanjay put his arms around her and kissed her, first with quick caresses and then the kisses becoming longer and more passionate.
“May slipped his clothes off one by one, removing her lips from his for no more than a second or two.
“Afterwards she held him close. ‘Sandy, I’ve learned something for the first time today. You are absolutely superb after meditation. Why don’t we make love every time immediately after you have meditated?’ ”
Most chapters include a steamy scene: “He removed his clothes and began to feel Sajni’s body, caressing her voluptuous breasts. He felt very excited, but wanted to enjoy exploring her body before he attempted to enter her. But suddenly, it was all over.”
When Sanjay is teaching women yoga, he enjoys “the sensation of gently pushing Susan’s shoulders back a few inches, an action that served to lift her breasts even higher”.
Sanjay and friends queue when young to have sexual encounters with Sajni, an impoverished but willing local: “Sanjay saw a shapely dark-skinned girl lying on Vinay’s bed. He was overcome by a lust that he had never known before … He removed his clothes and began to feel Sajni’s body, caressing her voluptuous breasts.”
Sadly for Sanjay, writes Dr Pachauri, “the excitement got the better of him, before he could even get started”.
A friend of Susan is taken to a motel by Sanjay but only after he has fondled her breasts – “which he just could not let go of” – inadvertently sounding the car horn at the same time.”
In the absence of women, the author has his protagonist masturbating, stealing a red handkerchief from a passenger on a train for the purpose: “He pulled it out gently, imagined Pooja naked and ready by his side, and got busy with his right hand.”
The IPCC is supposed to be the gold standard for the science of saving the planet. Perhaps it’s become more the red-handkerchief standard. #
* In 1996 in a civil case involving defendant TERI and a contractor seeking damages, Judge K. Ramamoorthy in the Delhi High Court said Pachauri and his two co-directors “have suppressed material facts and they have sworn to false affidavits”. The judge said that since the three were claiming lack of knowledge of a relevant contract, “I am afraid they demonstrate themselves totally unequal to the task entrusted to them.” He continued, “And I am afraid that the affairs and the efficient management of the Centre are not safe in the hands of officers like Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, Dr R.K. Pachauri and Mr Dinesh Mehta and they had ignored that the officers have to function as a public functionaries within the parameters of the Constitution.”
Within a year of this judicial accolade, the Asian group in the UN voted Pachauri in to the IPCC as their vice-chair, and in 2002 the corrupt and dictator-led majority of governments in the UN voted him in as IPCC chair.
Tony Thomas blogs at No B.S. here (I hope)