Competition winner: Breaking the Code of Silence

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This case series won the Outstanding Case Writer Competition at The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2018.
The case

Who – the protagonist

Nina (name changed), Senior Correspondent at Tehelka, an Indian weekly news magazine.



Veteran journalist Tarun Tejpal founded Tehelka, breaking new ground in investigative journalism using sting operations. Tejpal was considered a crusader for women’s rights and a champion of the underprivileged.

Nina was a young, promising journalist in her twenties, working her way up from an intern. Nina had known Tejpal from her childhood, as the latter worked closely with her father, who was also a senior journalist.

Nina wrote many articles on feminist topics, such as the relationship between society, law and rape and held some clout within the media circuits.


According to Nina, her world turned upside down when Tejpal, someone she trusted and looked up to, sexually assaulted her in an elevator – on two separate occasions.

The incidents occurred while Nina was chaperoning well-known Hollywood actor Robert De Niro, and his daughter Drenon, at THiNK Fest, an annual event hosted by Tehelka, attended by popular panellists and celebrities.


It was November 2013 when Nina was allegedly sexually assaulted.



THiNK Fest was held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in the Indian state of Goa, situated on the west coast.

Key quote

“As a reporter for Tehelka who writes on violence against women, I suddenly find myself in the horrific situation of discovering what it is like to be on the receiving end of this violence from a powerful man I once deeply admired and respected.” – Nina, Senior Correspondent at Tehelka.

What next?

As a journalist who in all her writing had always urged women to speak out and break the silence that surrounded sexual crime Nina found herself at a crossroads.

Does she stay true to herself and report the incident to her senior colleague and police, or would remaining silent protect her safety, job and Tehelka?

Interested in finding out more?

Download the case and teaching note

Educators can login to view a free inspection copy of this case and its teaching note.

Breaking the Code of Silence
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Teaching note
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Also available:
A Sexual Harassment Complaint

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The authors

authorsSyeda Maseeha Qumer, Debapratim Purkayastha and Vijaya Narapareddy Zinnoury

Seeing off the best

The trio commented: “This competition provides a platform to compete against the best case writers in the world, and since it is not limited to writing on a specified topic or subject area, it truly celebrates excellence in case writing. We are honoured and extremely delighted to win this prestigious award.”

Raising awarenessRaising awareness

They continued: “The objective of writing this case was not to sit in judgement of the alleged perpetrator of the sexual violence, or to speculate on what really happened; the law will take its course in this regard.

“However, the incident provided us with the tremendous opportunity to bring to light the often unspoken world of sexual harassment in the workplace. With issues like sexual harassment dominating the global conversation, and reports weighing in on the ethical and social issues of the day, we felt this case would help bring these critical issues to the classroom, and also help find solutions to this problem. The case provides an opportunity to discuss what to do and, more specifically, what to say when faced with sexual harassment.

“It is our belief that this case allows us to raise awareness among business students, as well as corporate managers, about the perils of unethical behaviour and poor corporate governance in the workplace. Broadly, it prepares students and trainees to speak up when confronted with ethical dilemmas.

“The case resonated very well with a diverse set of educators who said that there was a need felt for such a case for a long time.”

Students engage with the subject

Syeda, Debapratim and Vijaya added: “This case has been taught in both undergraduate and MBA courses in Strategic Management in the US and was received well in all of them. Students responded to the questions posed with enthusiasm and candour, with one commenting:

“At first, I did not see how it is relevant to a business strategy course, but after the case was discussed, I now see how it applies to ethics, leadership, corporate strategy and governance.”

About the authors

Syeda Maseeha Qumer is a Consultant at ICFAI Business School (IBS) Case Research Center.
tw @smaseeha

Debapratim Purkayastha is Associate Dean at ICFAI Business School (IBS) and heads its Case Research Center.
tw @dpurkayastha

Vijaya Narapareddy Zinnoury is Associate Professor at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver.
tw @DrNarapareddy


View all the 2018 winners