Dr Rajendra Pachauri, while chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from 2002 to February, 2015, was the darling of global academia and the media. He oversaw and signed off on the IPCC reports of 2007 and 2013, and squared up at the crease in Norway in 2007 to receive the IPCC’s half-share in the Nobel Peace Prize. Those 2007 and 2013 IPCC reports ramped up the global climate-change industry to what is now a $US1.5 trillion business.
The West’s endeavors to reduce CO2 emissions – notwithstanding the 18-year halt to global warming – are now diverting $US4 billion a day from potentially worthwhile Third World causes such as malaria control, safe water, sanitation and food security. Just for old times sake, I looked up Pachauri’s speech at the Oslo Peace Prize ceremony.
He quoted approvingly, “We honor the earth; for bringing forth flowers and food and trees…” Lovely! He then went on to warn about accelerating loss of water supplies from Himalayan glaciers, relied on “by more than one-sixth of the world’s population”. Oops! That was the Fourth Report’s “all gone by 2035” howler (based on a newspaper cutting) which nearly saw him sacked by the InterAcademy Council in 2010, after he’d abused a genuine scientist for pointing out the error. Pachauri finished, “Will those responsible for decisions in the field of climate change at the global level listen to the voice of science and knowledge, which is now loud and clear?”
Yes, yes, Rajendra, we’re listening! Right here, right now in Australia we’re allocating billions on the say-so of your esteemed (former) organization.
But hang on. Where’s he now? Didn’t he resign abruptly last February, after a young woman at his Energy & Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi, became the alleged object of his lascivious eye and roving hands and filed sexual harassment charges? What’s he up to these days? Writing another porn-lite novel, perhaps?
So I do a google. The Sydney Morning Herald, Age, Australian and ABC reported his IPCC resignation of February 24, but I can’t find one line of news about him since then. I’ll remedy that lacuna below — but first, given that we’re hurtling down the road to December’s catastropharian confab in Paris amid increasingly clamorous calls for life-or-death climate commitments, it would be nice to know who is running the IPCC in Pachauri’s absence.
But first, by way of background, think of another destination, the spectacularly dysfunctional nation of Sudan, where a judge last year sentenced a pregnant 27-year-old, Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, to death for the crime of “apostasy,” plus 100 lashes for “adultery”. Ibrahim is married to a non-Muslim, you see, a marriage the court did not recognize. The court added the apostasy charge after Mariam said she is Christian. She was released after international pressure.
Also last year, an Ethiopian woman there was gang-raped by seven attackers who filmed the assaults and circulated the clip on social media. She was tried for adultery alongside her attackers and found guilty of indecent acts. The attorney-general blocked her attempts to press rape charges “because she was being investigated for a criminal offence”. Not that raped women are alone in being on the wrong side of Sudanese justice. For the info of our local LGBTI lobby, homosexual acts are punishable by prison, flogging, stoning and the death penalty. Government troops in the civil war there routinely rape and murder. Last year alone, about 450,000 civilians fled one disputed region.
This is the same Sudan which has provided the IPCC’s acting chief, Ismail El Gizouli (right). Who knew, that Sudan is top of the tree in climate-science administration? Its national representative has been tootling around the inner sanctums of the IPCC’s headquarters for the past 13 years, interrupting his efforts to foil global warming only long enough to acquire a wardrobe of dowdy sports coats from the Geneva equivalent of St Vinnies. To get a feel for the intellectual clout of the current leader of the world climate-change movement, enjoy this hit video and el Gizouli’s spell-binding oratory:
“I am Ismail El Gizouli from Sudan. I joined the Working Group 3 in 2002. And I was elected again in two thousand seven, 2010 I was elected vice-chair of IPCC. The fourth assessment got a Nobel prize jointly with Al Gore and this is a good achievement for a scientific body to be recognized by this, ar, respectable ar, prize…
Q: What motivates you to work for the IPCC?
“ This IPCC work is a process where I learned a lot. If I look back to 2002, it is now 2013, there are a lot of water under the bridge. There are many things I learnt, I have a lot of contacts all over the world with different scientists and I, I share my knowledge with them. I convey part of IPCC knowledge back to colleagues in Sudan and Africa and I think this is a very rewarding thing to me.”
Sadly, El Gizouli steps down as acting IPCC chair in October, and the following field (possibly to be joined by more aspirants) will duke it out to be Pachauri’s successor: Hoesung Lee (Korea); Tom Stocker (Switzerland); Jean-Pascal van Ypersele (Belgium), Chris Field (US), and Neboisa Nakicenovic (Austria). For lesser positions in the IPCC Bureau, candidates include reps from such hotbeds of meteorological science as the Maldives (pop 340,000), Kenya, Zimbabwe and Senegal.
We know the impeccable standard of government in Zimbabwe. But focusing just on Senegal for a moment, the government there turns a blind eye to massive exploitation of tens of thousands (one estimate: 50,000) of children in Koranic boarding schools. The schools are in the business of running beggars seven days a week. Children who fail to meet their daily begging quotas are beaten with rubber whips, pieces of wood, and unraveled rope. An 8-year-old told Human Rights Watch he was repeatedly forced into a room, stripped, held down, and beaten for extended periods across the torso with a strip of car tire. Many children in this and other schools were observed to be suffering from infected wounds, skin diseases and gastro. Not that boys are the only ones to suffer. About a quarter of Senegalese girls are subjected to female genital mutilation, often in extreme forms.
Some might disagree, but there doesn’t seem any reason why, at least by the IPCC’s reckoning, a Senegalese bureaucrat shouldn’t occupy a high place in the world’s top planet-saving humanitarian outfit.
Incidentally, top-tier working group co-chairs currently include Cuba and Mali[i], while vice-chairs include Morocco, Madagascar, Zambia, Maldives and Iran.
Now, back to ex-chair Pachauri. As previously described in Quadrant (in the absence of any other reporting by the Australian media), he chose to stay on as chair and director-general of his Energy & Resources Institute (TERI) and chancellor of TERI University, merely going on leave. The police filed charges of “assault or criminal force to a woman with intent to outrage her modesty”, “sexual harassment”, “stalking” and “criminal intimidation”, based in large part on the woman’s tendered evidence of some 6000 text messages and 200 pages of emails from Pachauri.
An particularly icky example:
“I wish you would see the difference between something tender and something tender and loving and something crass and vulgar. So I shall slink away and withdraw… 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.”
Pachauri claimed, firstly, that his phone and laptop had been hacked for 17 months by conspirators. After that, he changed his story somewhat and swore that some mischief-maker on his staff must have appropriated his passwords to write third-party love-notes as per the sample above.
Meanwhile a formal internal complaints panel of TERI did its own investigation and, in May, found Pachauri guilty of conflict of interest, misuse of designation, and violation of the prevention of sexual harassment policy. The council of TERI, comprising some of India’s most distinguished businessmen and women, sat on its hands, while a local court intervened to put a stay on the case until September. The police investigation has been moving at a snail’s pace and, since February, probers have interviewed Pachauri just four times, breaking off one interview prematurely in view of Pachauri’s “advanced age”, viz 74. They have told courts that Pachauri has been evasive and uncooperative.
One police officer, however, had been doing an exemplary job in building the prosecution case over five months. The TERI woman complained to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 8 that the officer has been transferred off her case. She wrote, “This transfer of this very able police officer has come as a rude shock to me and left me feeling more helpless and dejected. For a new officer to work on this case, the time already invested by the transferred officer now stands redundant. Someone who did his job so well and efficiently has been suddenly sent off packing.”
Concurrently, local courts gave Pachauri the right to return to his office at TERI. But in the same week the TERI council acted and, on July 23, announced that Pachauri would be replaced by federal bureaucrat Dr Ajay Mathur who would take up his new post in up to three months’ time. The council’s press statement did not mention the police charges against Pachauri, instead awarding him this bouquet:
“Pachauri has led and built TERI over the last 34 years from a concept to a major, financially autonomous, professionally dynamic organisation on the global stage.”
In her letter the woman castigates the council members for hypocrisy, especially the top businesswomen on the panel:
“Those delivering seminars and passing sermons on issues of women protection on national and international forums are unabashedly and ruthlessly unmoved. All I can say is, with deep regret, that hypocrisy abounds. Worst, there are women who are members of this Governing Council and have flatly refused to “govern” the depraved misconducts of a man who is of my grandfather’s age. The so called ‘Women of steel’ displayed great footwork and have side stepped the issue adroitly.”
The Indian press did assume Pachauri was finished. Not so. Within days he brusquely told a TV door-stopper that he was still in his top job. There’s been no contradiction from the council, publicly or internally. Indian press reports have it that Pachauri will stay in charge until his successor arrives. This is grim news for TERI staffers who petitioned the organisation’s council to rid them of Pachauri, and who now fear intimidation and, potentially, the sack.
In her letter to the Prime Minister the woman complainant says,
“It is extremely shocking and deeply regretful that R.K. Pachauri continues to head the organization and seems to be there to stay…
“There is fear and terror created within the workplace and witnesses are being influenced, which the police too have said repeatedly in court,” the woman wrote. “From the so many others who were witness to [her harassment], a few have supported my version to the inquiring agencies and they all live in fear of their jobs…The major chunk of the organisation has known for times immemorial what goes on in the Institute but silence has been their friend.”
The woman left work in May after being transferred to a role unsuited to her research skills. She is now languishing at home without pay.
“Every neck and arm is working against me and the legal process. From being up against one man, I am now up against an entire system. My only fault being that I did not quit my job and [instead] reported grave wrong-doing. My conscience and patience was dying a slow death and I had to simply speak up. The result of my raising my voice – I cannot join back to work, am made to sit at home past five months and am further victimised. I am facing losses in my productive time, finances, career and the ordeal is affecting me psychologically adding onto the agony and mental distress.”
She appealed to the Prime Minister to ensure that
- The Pachauri investigation is not sidelined because of Pachauri’s status and influence;
- The police are allowed to work without high-level sabotage; and
- The diligent police officer Negi is put back on her case to speed it along.
She also drew attention to India’s officially endorsed campaign against the abuse of women — known as “Eve Teasing” and denounced by billboards like that at left, and called on Prime Minister Mori to banish Pachauri from TERI pending resolution of the case.
Closer to home, Australia’s loudest and leading feminists – Julia Gillard, Anne Summers, Clementine Ford, et al – seem to have overlooked this high-level example of on-going misogyny. Over to you, girls!
Tony Thomas blogs at No BS Here (I Hope)
[i] Mali: “Rule of law institutions countrywide are weak, in part due to corrupt practices and inadequate resources for the criminal justice system. Corruption, endemic at all levels of government, further impeded Malians’ access to basic health care and education.” https://www.hrw.org/africa/mali