There are zero percent women at leadership roles in the energy sector in India, the WEF at Davos reported earlier this year. The fact weaves itself so perfectly with the recent gendered power play that took place at the hands of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), when RK Pachauri, accused and found guilty of sexual assault of one of his female subordinates was promoted to the position of Vice Chairman.
RK Pachauri case reflects gendered power play of top managements
While his legal defender may say that Pachauri has been demoted, not promoted, the question here is that why does he find himself continuing in the same organization that found him guilty of a crime as grievous as sexual harassment, whereas the victim was compelled to leave? Some say that it is Pachauri’s international coalitions that put him in a position of power, such that it comes with a high level of immunity from the legal framework. There are no lines of control for power holders in our country.
While his legal defender may say that Pachauri has been demoted, not promoted, the question here is that why does he find himself continuing in the same organization that found him guilty of a crime as grievous as sexual harassment, whereas the victim was compelled to leave?
Seems like Mr. Pachauri has been getting away with this for a long time now. While on one hand TERI students refused to accept degrees from the man, two more women came out as victims of assault by him on the other. The police refuses to register a complaintor even act upon existing evidence, senior advocate Vrinda Grover told the Quint. Reportedly, head of Biocon and member of the governing council of TERI Kiran Mazumdar Shaw also resigned, citing ‘moral responsibility’.
The most paining part was the fact the committee that decided to promote RK Pachauri had 3 women, including names like Naina Lal Kidwai, Leena Srivastava and Dr Wakako Hironaka. Amrita Dutta, journalist with the Indian Express tweeted:
RK Pachauri back in TERI is a sign of thriving, brazen institutional patriarchy.
And this is the situation when women have explicit evidence! On one hand, we are breaking old stereotypes by allowing women into religious places, while on the other, we are ignoring the dominance of the powerless by the powerful in the everyday.
BJP Spokesperson Shaina NC tweeted:
“We cannot pronounce someone guilty unless proven. But as a woman, I strongly feel that anyone who is embroiled in cases of sexual controversies should not be taken back in office. In this particular case, he has a lot to answer. However, I believe the legal system will deliver justice in due time.”
The only problem is we do not know how long this due time will be. It’s not the question of a few women standing up against perhaps one of the nation’s most powerful, all-male nexus, but it is about the future of womanhood in the sector as a whole. And beyond the sector, a signal for the country. For women with careers. We do not want parents to view the entire field as unsafe for women. Or maybe there is a dirty secret lurking somewhere behind the walls, that them men don’t want the ladies to find out.
Whatever the case maybe, justice needs to be delivered , and now. The lack of women in the sector gives them a weaker voice, and women with a voice need to stand up in solidarity. Change in attitudes comes from change in practices, and that will change only when we make the conscious decision to change.