ONE DAY IN DECEMBER 2012, Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, then the director general of The Energy and Resources Institute, or TERI, called a staff meeting at the organisation’s headquarters in the India Habitat Centre, a plush multi-storey complex on south Delhi’s Lodhi Road. Hundreds of employees shuffled into a room on the fifth floor, adjacent to the office’s indoor badminton court. When they had gathered, Pachauri made an announcement. There had been, he explained in a sombre tone, a regrettable incident.
A young volunteer in Odisha, who was working with Lighting a Billion Lives, a global energy-access programme run by TERI, had reported being molested by the field coordinator heading her team. One night, after an event, the coordinator had told the volunteer that it was too late for her to travel home alone, and convinced her to stay back in his accommodation. There, he attempted to embrace and kiss her. She broke free from him, and left.