Pachauri Replaced at TERI Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations

Friday, July 24, 2015
Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri (file photo)

The former UN climate change panel (IPCC) chief, Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, has been removed from his post as head of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in Delhi. The move came days after a court allowed Pachauri to return to his office while facing sexual harassment allegations.

TERI’s governing council announced on Thursday that Pachauri was being replaced as its director general by Ajay Mathur, a former World Bank official and one of the members of the Prime Minister's council on climate change.

The statement praised Pachauri's work in turning TERI into "a major, financially autonomous, professionally dynamic organisation on the global stage". While not specifying why he was being replaced, the statement said that "the interests of TERI and its talented staff are paramount".

The police are investigating a sexual harassment complaint from a 29-year-old woman working in the TERI office in Gurgaon.

Lawyers for the woman say the harassment included unwanted emails as well as text and phone messages. 74-year-old Pachauri has denied the allegations, saying his email and phone accounts had been hacked. No formal charges have been brought against him yet.

In February, he resigned as the IPCC head after the sexual harassment allegations surfaced.

When a court gave permission last week to Pachauri to return to work at the Delhi-based TERI, a number of his colleagues reportedly expressing their unease over his return.

The governing council, headed by astrophysicist BV Sreekantan, subsequently met in Bangalore on Thursday and decided to appoint Mathur in Pachauri’s place. The council has 10 members including HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh, Naina Lal Kidwai of the HSBC, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon and the ministry of earth science secretary Shailesh Nayak.

The council said in its statement that the search for Pachauri’s replacement had begun in September 2014, well before the allegations.

"The decision to appoint Ajay Mathur is, therefore, the culmination of an extensive search process and an intensive evaluation of candidates from across the globe," the statement said.

In 2007 Pachauri had collected the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the IPCC for its work in the scientific assessment of the risks and causes of climate change. The organisation shared the award with former US vice-president and environmental campaigner, Al Gore.

- Karan Singh

To Learn More:

Sexual-harassment case: Teri sacks RK Pachauri (by Vishwa Mohan, Times of India)

UN climate head Rajendra Pachauri removed from Delhi office (BBC News)

Rajendra Pachauri scandal: No removal, it seems to be only a send-off, says complainant (Economic Times)

Profile: Till his sacking, R K Pachauri was the face of TERI (by Amitabh Sinha, Indian Express)

Rajendra Pachauri: Climate expert resigns over harassment claim (by Tom Bawden, The Independent)


Denise 8 years ago
Richard Tol, I hate to pick on wildlifers, it was just the first thing that came to mind, let's stciwh to climate change.In my experience, the situation is more subtle than you are saying. Say, for climate change scientists. You have studied it, you think it is important and something the world needs to deal with, because you have more direct knowledge of the research information. In the old days that would be replicable observations of nature, today it would be observations of model runs. You "know" more, so want to warn about the dangers you see, this is normal and useful. Coupled with the fact that dangers, (and Science Establishment-driven science fads) drive most of the large scale research funding. Not many people publish papers that say "managers doing fine with current ways of dealing with change, no need to develop new methods for them to deal with climate change." So papers are published that say current ways are not enough and soon I think scientists start to believe their papers. For one thing, practitioners or others who disagree with the need for intervention x or y do not publish in scientific journals and often aren't even admitted to the dialogue. After a period of time I think people unconsciously believe that 1) they know more about the problem and 2) they know more how to deal with it. Hence, I see a very slippery slope into advocacy. Note, I am not talking about Pachauri, but he brought to mind that there is a natural tendency for people who study something to become advocates for it. We have to be able to parse that out to have good policy discussions and not accept every statement a scientist makes as "science."

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