“Empowered women who reach difficult or unconventional positions make choices, not sacrifices”
Back in 1972, as Kiran Bedi became the first Indian woman to hold the position of an IPS officer, stepping onto the pedestal of success was an unachievable dream for a majority of the female population in the country. Kiran Bedi’s life and legacy have galvanized many women to follow their dream with an iron wall. A global icon today, Kiran Bedi is one person we all truly admire. Be her strong decisions for fighting injustice, standing for the poor, or joining a political party, she has always made her presence felt with her strong and powerful decisions. She has been constantly judged by other politicians about her character, her work, and choices, this makes it even more prominent that we know more about her life and how she became motivated millions. Below is her story, her journey of life, and how she became the First ever Female IPS officer of India.
Kiran Bedi was born and brought up in Punjab on the 9th of June 1949. She was the second of the four daughters of Prakash Lal Peshawaria (father) and Prem lata Peshawaria (mother). Bedi studied in the Sacred Heart Convent School in Amritsar and joined the National Cadet Corps there. Lawn Tennis was her favorite sport that she inherited from her father, a talented tennis player himself. After completing her schooling, she graduated in B.A English honors and also earned her Master’s degree in Political Science from Punjab University, Chandigarh. Bedi continued her education, even after joining the Police force, and gained her Law Degree, LLB from the famous Delhi University. After obtaining all these degrees to her name, she went on to complete her Ph.D. from the Department of Social Sciences in the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, with her thesis topic being – “Drug abuse and Domestic Violence”. Kiran Bedi was born into a Hindu Khatri family, her father was a textile businessman by profession. She has three sisters. Kiran Bedi got married to Brij Bedi, a lover of photography and Lawn Tennis who had also studied at the Khalsa College in Amritsar, he passed away on 31 January 2016 due to cardiac arrest.
Kiran Bedi started her journey in 1972. She started with her police training at Mussourie National Academy of Administration after completing her foundations’ course training which continued for 9 months in Mount Abu in Rajasthan. She was the only woman in the batch of 80 men and she became the first woman IPS officer of the country at the age of 24. Law enforcement, prison management, and administration as well as teaching are her areas of expertise. She has also said in her interviews that she is a firm believer in God’s grace, she is always filled with gratitude towards it. When asked what advice she would give to young aspirants she said,
“This service gives us the power to serve, never ever forget that. It gives you full career security to be courageous and fearless. It’s about building the nation and its future by serving the present. You must be there for those who need you the most. Hence, make sure you stay close to the ground.”
AWARDS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Kiran Bedi is one of the most well-known women of India, she is known for her discipline and honesty towards her work. Kiran Bedi commenced her career as a lecturer at the Khalsa College for women, Amritsar, in the year 1970. She then joined the prestigious Indian Police Service in 1972, mainly because of her dedication of becoming outstanding than the rest.
She served as:
– The Traffic Commissioner, New Delhi
– Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mizoram
– Advisor to Lieutenant Governor, Chandigarh
– Director-General of Narcotics Control bureau
– Inspector General in Tihar Jail
She also gained popularity and appreciation for an incident wherein she dragged the car of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for violating car parking rules. After this incident, people started referring to her as Crane Bedi.
Kiran Bedi has received a number of awards for her contribution to society. Some of these famous awards include:
- President’s Gallantry award – 1979
- Women of the Year – 1980
- Received the Asia Region Award For Drug Prevention and control – 1991
- Magsaysay Award for Government Service – 1994
- Mahila Shiromani Award – 1995
- Father Machismo Humanitarian Award – 1995
- Lion of the Year – 1995
- Joseph Beuys Award – 1997
- Pride of India – 1999
- The Mother Teresa Memorial National Award for Social Justice – 2005
Other than these awards, in the 90’s she was transferred to the Tihar Jail, known as the most notorious jail in India. Bedi transferred the jail into a peace-loving ashram by introducing literacy and meditation programs with the help of only her team. Her inspirational act of courage fetched her, The Magsaysay Award, and most importantly, a memorable place in the history of Indian Police.
Kiran Bedi also single-handedly managed the Punjab separatist movement and fought against the sword-carrying Sikh militants bravely.
Her acts of bravery and achievements have an immense influence on the women and younger generation of India. She had introduced a number of reforms during her service period which brought positive results as well as a lot of appreciation from around the world. She initiated yoga, meditation classes, sports, and arts groups in jails which led to peace and mutual understanding in the jail inmates and police personals. Her speeches have and continue to inspire women to raise their voices against injustice and work hard for a good life. Kiran Bedi’s inspirational story is the reason why we see so many women in the police forces today.
SOCIAL WORK AND CURRENT LIFE
Bedi and her colleagues had started The Navjyoti Delhi Police Foundation which was renamed to Navjyoti India Foundation in 2007. From the time of its establishment, the Foundation has provided residential treatment to more than 20,000 drug and alcohol addicts.
The foundation has also started crime prevention programs such as the education of slum kids and street children. It also set up 200 single-teacher schools, vocational training centers, health care facilities, and counseling centers for the distressed sections of society.
Bedi also co-founded the Navjyoti India Foundation (NIF) in the year 1987, which began as a drug-addiction rehabilitation initiative and has recently expanded to various other social issues like illiteracy and women empowerment. In 1994 Bedi started the India Vision Foundation which works in the field of police reforms, prison reforms, women empowerment, and rural and community development. She has made genuine efforts towards the society and has won national and international recognition, her organizations were awarded the “Serge Soitiroff Memorial Award ” for drug abuse prevention by the United Nations. Other than these, her NGOs are running four community colleges and are registered with the Indira Gandhi National Open University to provide vocational and soft skills training to the Indian youth. Bedi’s social initiative, ‘Mission Safer India’, aims to ensure that police log and address citizen complaints. She has been a popular figure in the nationwide India Against Corruption (IAC) movement.
Kiran Bedi also supports social change and civic responsibility through her books and columns. She became host in 2009–10 on the famous reality TV show Aap Ki Kachehri Kiran Ke Saath on Star Plus which was liked by many. She is the author of many books, like, ‘It’s Always Possible: One Women’s Transformation of India’s Prison System’, ‘What Went Wrong?’, ‘The Motivating Bedi’ and many more. She also has a fortnightly column in the Times of India, known as ‘What Went Wrong?’, a fortnightly column in Tribune, called ‘Reflections’, and a weekly column in Punjab Kesri, called ‘Chetna’.
Kiran Bedi assumed the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry on 29th May 2016. She emerged as the principal rival of Chief Minister V Narayanasamy when appointed Puducherry Lt. Governor. She was removed by the President on February 2021, three months ahead of the assembly election as the Congress-led government battled a political crisis. Bedi is an active leading social activist and the founder of two NGOs. She has also worked with the United Nations globally and has represented India in International forums on crime prevention, drug abuse, and women’s issues. Kiran Bedi has also been chosen for the “MSN most admired Indian female icon 2011”, and “India’s most trusted woman” by Navbharat Times 2012 and Readers Digest in the year 2010. She has been very efficient to prevent crime, reform prisons, end drug abuse, and support women’s causes, earning her a Roman Magsaysay Award, which is the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
Kiran Bedi is the epitome of success for all women out there, she changed the scenario of administrative services in India and her self-discipline and dedication towards the betterment of our country is an inspiration for all.
“What is the value of education which does not inculcate passion and fearlessness for setting right what is wrong?“ – Kiran Bedi
A fearless woman of many firsts, Kiran Bedi, whose school fees as a child would often be delayed due to her grandfather’s discord with her education, is today a symbol of hard work & principled ethical actions. She has become a feminist role model for many women and harbored hope for them by proving the traditionally prevalent perception of women entirely prejudiced and fallacious.