By Anjali Nambissan:
First up, this post has nothing at all to do with climate science or Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri’s decade-long career of researching and collating pivotal climate research. He was instrumental to the research that became the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. Nor does it have anything at all to do with the sexual harassment allegations against him, which are for the Delhi Police to investigate and ascertain.
Pachauri’s 12-year tenure as Chairman of the world’s only internationally recognised governing body for climate change research and advocacy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has also included the infamous Climate gate scandal. In 2010, the IPCC assessments claimed that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 if climate change mitigation wasn’t set about in full motion. This turned out to be false. Some might argue that if Pachauri would have paid more attention to the assessment reports he was supposed to be presiding over, instead of being distracted by his own foray into fiction writing, things might have turned out differently.
From research to racy novel
In between penning tomes on climate change science and adaptation, and “mostly on flights” when travelling as IPCC Chairman, Pachauri found time to write something that is not PG. A “smutty” novel which the Times of India described as a “spiritual potboiler” in 2010, when it came out.
Return to Almora is the story of scientist Sanjay Nath, who is from Nainital and studied in the US (much like Pachauri himself). Weary of the busy life, he returns to Almora in search of “meaning, memories, and peace”. In between Nath’s exploration of his past-life memories and search for meaning which leads him to meditation and lots of gurus, Pachauri has inserted what The Telegraph describes as “breathless prose that risks making Dr Pachauri, who will be 70 this year, a laughing stock among the serious, high-minded scientists and world leaders with whom he mixes, he details sexual encounter after sexual encounter”.
The British daily then goes on to quote a passage from Page 16 of Pachauri’s novel, “She removed her gown, slipped off her nightie and slid under the quilt on his bed… Sanjay put his arms around her and kissed her, first with quick caresses and then the kisses becoming longer and more passionate.
May slipped his clothes off one by one, removing her lips from his for no more than a second or two.
Afterwards she held him close. ‘Sandy, I’ve learned something for the first time today. You are absolutely superb after meditation. Why don’t we make love every time immediately after you have meditated?”
Pachauri makes a bit too many references to “heaving… voluptuous breasts”. And the protagonist is seriously twisted, slightly creepy when it comes to sex – Nath and his friends take turns with a local girl; as a yoga instructor in the US, he strategically corrects women’s asanas because he “was excited by the sight of her heaving breasts, as she breathed in and out deeply”, and in the absence of women, he masturbates graphically, even stealing a female passenger’s “red, silk handkerchief” on the train to assist him.
I have no intention of prosecuting the man with any of this half-baked information. It is an uncharacteristic product of a scientist’s mind that struck me as odd. And goes to show, that we do not know everything there is to know about someone. Pronouncing a verdict on Pachauri is the court’s job. His work as IPCC chief and the little headway made in climate change mitigation should not be doubted against the backdrop of his impending sexual harassment trial.