R. K. Pachauri: Out with the dirty – Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar Etteth“India is run by politicians, tycoons and bureaucrats, but there is a Superclub that discreetly dominates the national agenda. They are Nobel Prize winners like Amartya Sen, who quit Nalanda University after allegations of irregularities and nepotism, and ‘human rights’ activists like Teesta Setalvad and convicted Naxal sympathisers such as Binayak Sen. They bask in the luxury of dollars and euros, receive prestigious awards and grants, and have more air miles with junkets than the square meals an average Indian gets. Mesmerised by their intelligentsia cachet, it is the only cosy club the political class woos with corporate-funded think tank and government committee positions.” – Ravi Shankar

R. K. PachauriThe Nobel Prize has a singular sheen of its own. It glows like a luminous halo, laminating a personality or an organisation with its glory. As you read this, India’s coquettish climate commando, R. K. Pachauri, will be enjoying the balmy climes of Japan and China to yaw yaw on environmental threats, quaffing champagne and attending high-profile banquets. And the girl he allegedly sexually harassed for a year until he was exposed in February, who felt repulsed by the 74-year-old climatologist’s advances and erotic poetry, waits for justice from the same system that allows Pachauri to jet set around the globe to save polar bears. Other women have spoken up against him.

The legal definition of rape was changed after the Nirbhaya horror, but Pachauri’s smart lawyer got him the approval to travel abroad to “earn his livelihood”. Any dirty old man accused of sexual harassment would have been enjoying the dubious hospitality of Tihar Jail, with other molesters.

Following his disgrace, he was forced out as the head of the UN climate change panel in February. He was sacked from TERI in July. In spite of it all, he will be India’s unofficial ambassador at global forums. Do we really want this type of Make in India product junketing around the world at a time when our Prime Minister is projecting India as the world’s new shining destination and has made climate change an important agenda?

Data collected until August 15 shows Delhi’s infamous Tihar was home at some time or the other to 1,121 rape accused and 2,238 arrested for molestation this year alone. The latest National Crime Records Bureau statistics point out the number of reported crimes against women has increased to over 3.3 lakh in 2014, or 56 incidents per one lakh females.

Dominique Strauss-KahnAccording to the National Violence Against Women Survey in the US, one in six American women has experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. Pachauri may roam free for the time being, but all the power, international influence and glamour of Dominique Gaston André Strauss-Kahn, then the boss of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) who was the front-runner to replace the French president Nicolas Sarkozy, could not save his job or liberty after a hotel maid alleged he raped her in May 2011. Presidential prospects and political careers have been destroyed by sex scandals. But not in India. Perhaps, it is not surprising considering the attitude our leaders have towards the harassment and violation of women.

Teesta Sitalwad & Javed AnandIndia is run by politicians, tycoons and bureaucrats, but there is a Superclub that discreetly dominates the national agenda. They are Nobel Prize winners like Amartya Sen, who quit Nalanda University after allegations of irregularities and nepotism, and ‘human rights’ activists like Teesta Setalvad and convicted Naxal sympathisers such as Binayak Sen. They bask in the luxury of dollars and euros, receive prestigious awards and grants, and have more air miles with junkets than the square meals an average Indian gets. Mesmerised by their intelligentsia cachet, it is the only cosy club the political class woos with corporate-funded think tank and government committee positions. Together they form the Establishment, which the ordinary Indian cannot beat. The laws are different for them. And Pachauri knows too well this climate will not change and it will never get too hot for him. – The New Indian Express, 23 August 2015

» Ravi Shankar Etteth is an author, cartoonist and columnist for The New Indian Express. Email him at ravi@newindianexpress.com

R. K. Pachauri

India’s era of sexual inquisition – Madhav Nalapat

M.D. Nalapat“Since the legal duo of P. Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal got their joint chance to nudge the IPC even further into medievalism than it has been for a century and a quarter, the definition of what constitutes a jailable offence has been made so vague and broad in scope that any individual can be sent for a spell in prison on the most subjective of reasons.” – Prof. Madhav Nalapat

Shah Rukh Khan blowing kisses to his fans; Why isn't he in jail for this 'obscene' act?On 1 December, at 11 minutes past 11 p.m., 22-year-old Rahul Tilak’s life changed. He was taken into custody off Gulistan Hotel at Grant Road, Mumbai, and is still in jail. Arraigned under  Section 509 of the (19th century but still extant) Indian Penal Code, the youthful office worker is likely to spend the next couple of years in prison, from whence he will hopefully emerge a reformed man. His crime? That he, according to a young lady passing by about 20 feet from him, “blew a flying kiss” in her general direction. Whether it was actually a flying kiss or Tilak trying to brush away a fly that had settled on his upper lip is irrelevant.

Since the legal duo of P. Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal got their joint chance to nudge the IPC even further into medievalism than it has been for a century and a quarter, the definition of what constitutes a jailable offence has been made so vague and broad in scope that any individual can be sent for a spell in prison on the most subjective of reasons, such as interpreting a gesture to be that of a most indefensible of deeds, blowing a flying kiss at a lady from 20 feet away. Steeped as he is in Sibal-Chidambaram logic, it took but an instant before a police constable in Grant Road (which, it may be mentioned, gets somewhat lively in the evenings) hauled the young man off to prison.

One of Manmohan Singh’s “reforms” has been to make prison the default option for a variety of transgressions that in a democracy would either be ignored or be punished by just a warning or a fine.

The Medievalists: Sibal & ChidambaramThis columnist comes from a matriarchal family and is proud of the fact that he bears his mother’s surname rather than his father’s. Women are far and away the better sex, and only those societies which acknowledge this truth achieve their full potential in creativity and progress. It is only the healing presence of the fair sex that makes life tolerable in a country with a Kafkaesque system of law and administration. However, thanks to the post-2004 introduction of laws that are diffuse and therefore impossible to escape from, subjective accusation has trumped any need for substantive proof before penal action gets initiated. It may soon become necessary to introduce in India the same segregation of the sexes at the workplace and in educational and outside locations as was prevalent in Mullah Omar’s Afghanistan, and which is largely the rule in that citadel of modernity, Saudi Arabia. While in Mumbai, this columnist looks forward to his daily walk along the Marine Drive. Let it be admitted that the collateral advantage of the sight of many charming members of the opposite sex having the same idea (of taking a walk) has been as big a bonus as gazing at the seas washing in waves across the shoreline. However, these days, one needs to focus less on calories than on weaving right, left and in a circle while walking, so as to avoid the merest chance that there may be accidental physical contact with a lady who may subsequently feel motivated to summon the nearest policeman to report a case of “rape” . Of course, this as per the Sibal-Chidambaram definition, of a man being guilty by declamation, and to blazes with the (lack of) evidence. As Rahul Tilak found out exactly a week ago.

Eve teasing in IndiaA woman has the right to her own body, and those who take liberties with it without willing (i.e. non-coerced) consent deserve severe punishment. In the Damini case, the so-called juvenile deserves the same punishment as the other perpetrators of the heinous crime they jointly committed. A technicality which ought not to allow this predator to get released back into society, once again to place young women in danger. However, to embrace medieval codes of morality by sending to prison a man on the (unsupported by other witnesses) word of a woman in the absence of any verifiable evidence, and before an impartial examination takes place of the incident, is to make nonsense of the concept of innocence until proven guilty.

The same day as Tilak lost his liberty, a postman dismissed for the alleged theft of a Rs 57 money order won exoneration from a court, a mere three decades after loss of livelihood and liberty. Will those who filed false charges against the man ever get prosecuted? Never, just as those policemen who destroyed India’s cryogenic engine program by arresting key scientists on false charges still walk free and get promoted. The 21st century was thought to be the era of the sexual revolution, the freeing of women from patriarchy. Instead, it is becoming the age of the sexual inquisition, the swelling virulence of which is making contact between the sexes a danger to individual liberty. – The Sunday Guardian, 8 December 2013