What drives the desires of sexual transgressions of educated people is difficult enough to fathom, but the stupidity of conceit that the powerful have in believing that they can get away with such acts of sexual misconduct is unimaginably insane to even attempt to comprehend. The news of Tarun Tejpal's alleged rape of his junior employee, at an official event, left me feeling as though he had personally betrayed my trust. I of course do not know Mr. Tejpal personally, but my feelings of being aggrieved come from the identification that I have of him with the news agency Tehelka, which is an organisation I have held in high esteem from its inception. I had always attributed and accredited its integrity for high standards of accountability from public office, and the desire to unearth any misappropriation of the truth despite all odds, to his leadership and vision at the helm. To therefore learn that he is capable of such gross abuse of power comes as a major shock to those of us who have been champions and supporters of Tehelka all these years.
You cannot dress up a criminal act to become something that you pass off as a casual gesture of inebriation, and then proceed to atone for your actions by deciding what punishment you deserve; and all the while evading the mechanisms of legal recourse required by the mandate given by the supreme court, to follow the Vishaka committee guidelines against sexual harassment in the work place; pretending that it is all being done in good faith and with a heavy heart of remorse. For an organisation that has stringently called attention to issues pertaining to rape and sexual harassment, it seems ironical and quite farcical if I may bluntly state, that when it is in your own back yard then it gets handled with a different set of rules and expectancies.
What is imperative to note is that no personnel in any work space, however senior or junior, should ever succumb to the idea that they can act upon their assumed notions that someone may be interested in their sexual advances, without duly clarifying (without any physical contact) a solid basis to substantiate that they are receiving the correct signals that may then allow them to move forward by mutual consent, to a development of intimacies or a relationship. However, I for one hold rather strict views which do not prefer romances or any dalliances that involve top management because I believe it will always hold the space of power and compromise.
I also advocate that anyone who has even the smallest public platform should learn very quickly the responsibility of behaving with accountability; and comprehending that their actions will always be viewed with greater scrutiny. Whether inebriated or not, the personal politics that structures our ideas on life and determines the person we desire to be, will always guide our actions. Insisting that misjudgement of a situation was the only reason for any form of imposed sexual misconduct with another person smacks of hypocrisy, and that too coming from an individual who has founded his professional career upon exposing people who indulge in corrupt practises.
It should also be considered that no person offers an unconditional apology for an "alleged" act of sexual impropriety, especially someone with a grasp of legal knowledge, unless they have committed it. So therefore the law now is obliged to take its course and file an FIR and investigate this allegation of sexual molestation/rape because Mr. Tejpal has implicated himself by offering an unconditional apology to the victim against the accusation levied on him of outraging the modesty of a woman colleague. Does every story have two sides….well as a theory perhaps, but then we also know that not to be the case always. So instead of Mr. Tejpal trying to "atone" with the falsities of pretence, he will now have to be judged by the same yardsticks he and his organisation have insisted on all these years from others with allegations of similar improprieties; and be exposed to the censure of a nation that will certainly hold him accountable for his actions and demand for disciplinary legal action to be taken against him.