Before you turn around and say ‘Why are you dragging Modi into this?,’ let's clear things up. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) is partially funded by the government of India and PM Narendra Modi’s silence on RK Pachauri’s elevation to the vice-chairman’s position signals a tacit approval of sorts.
Still, I can hear a voice say that Modi is the PM, he has better things to do.
Yes, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi is in India and Modi has already hugged him, but this doesn’t need him to do much.
The grave injustice of this all is pretty apparent - the probe into the sexual harassment case is still on, the original complainant has quit the organisation, another complainant has emerged and said that there me several more ‘victims’. In the middle of all that, Pachauri gets a promotion.
On the face of it, Modi is trying to show that he is a great supporter of woman’s rights -- remember the ‘Selfie with Daughter’ campaign that was a rage on the Internet? But he clearly needs to do something more concrete.
Pachauri’s elevation has been okayed by two, senior ‘respected’ individuals -- HDFC’s Deepak Parekh and HSBC’s Naina Lal Kidwai -- who are part of the TERI governing council. The fact that they did it, only highlights the power that Pachauri wields within the organisation. It is even making the powerful bend to his will.
This clearly means that someone higher up needs to step in and make them see sense. That higher up is Modi. As an autonomous body, TERI enjoys freedom in decision-making but the Centre does partially fund them.
If you want everyone at TERI to take notice -- cut the funds off and subject them to institutional pressure. Modi just needs someone intelligent to read the riot act to TERI. It would be silly of them to continue to resist. The drama has gone on long enough and frankly it should embarrass everyone associated with TERI -- aren't a few more resignations in order?
Twenty students who recently completed courses at Teri University have said that they would not accept their degrees from Pachauri during a convocation on March 7. Their actions have Pachauri to not attend TERI university convocation.
They have shown the way forward, the Indian government only needs to follow suit.
This impasse is reminiscent of Suresh Kalmadi, the Congress MP who shamelessly hung on to the post of IOA president even as allegations of corruption grew. The BJP, who were in the opposition then, used it well to their advantage and attacked the Congress too. But now, they are finding ways to distance themselves from this controversy.
If Modi continues to ignore this, he is only reinforcing the Sangh Parivar’s retrogade approach to women's rights and gender violence and that is why he needs to step up. Is it really too much to ask?
Feature image: AFP