Ajay Mathur, the newly designated director general of TERI, is not as visible as R K Pachauri but no less illustrious. The current head of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, a government body under the Ministry of Power, is a technocrat who has been active on the climate change circuit for several years now.
A chemical engineer from Roorkee, Mathur is the man behind the energy efficiency programme of the government.
Incidentally, he had started his career at TERI in 1986 and was last associated with it in 1999. “It is like a homecoming for me. I admire and like the organisation and I am looking forward to my new role there,” he said.
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His appointment was made in the backdrop of sexual harassment allegations against Pachauri who has led the organisation since 1982.
Mathur said he would do everything to ensure all staff feel comfortable working in the organisation. “I am not fully informed about details of the current case. But one of my first priorities would be to see whether the internal processes to deal with such incidents are robust. In case, they need to be strengthened, they will be,” he said.
Mathur said he was aware that the morale of TERI employees was a bit down, but stressed that TERI had institutional strength and would bounce back.
“It is important to ensure that an institution is defined by the quality of work it produces and not by individual incidents like these. TERI has a tremendous reputation, globally,” he said.
The appointment of Mathur, who has done a stint at the climate programme of World Bank and headed the Bonn-based Green Climate Fund, has been welcomed by TERI employees.
Mathur, who has also been president of Suzlon Energy that is into production of wind energy, said his challenge would be to ensure that TERI continues to grow in the fashion it has in the last few years. “In many ways, it is a unique organisation. It is involved in field projects, does consultancy work, advocacy and campaign, and is also involved in global policy making. It is a vast profile that is valued internationally. As climate change dominates international political discourse, TERI would be asked to play an even increasing role.
Raising resources from diverse sources would be one of major challenges that I foresee for myself,” he said.