At a time when the Indian society was not favorable to women, Kiran Bedi had emerged out as a gem. Her life teaches us to struggle, not just for our own good, but for the greater good of society. She has been a strong advocate of women empowerment, eradicating illiteracy and has led multiple crusades against corruption.
Born on 9 June 1949, in Amritsar, Kiran Bedi belonged to a well-to-do Punjabi business family. She always had a lot of confidence in herself. She had joined the National Cadet Corps while pursuing her formal studies. When she was 9 years old, she had developed an interest in playing tennis and even shortened her hair as it interfered with her game. Her passion for tennis led her to win several laurels in tennis championships.
She used to visit the Service Club in Amritsar, where she interacted with many senior civil servants. This is where her inspiration to join civil service had born. Knowing the rebel, she is, she started her police training at the National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie: the only female in her batch.
Her hard work and dedication paid off when India got its first woman IPS officer in her.
My first day in the police was July 16, 1972. I was the only woman in the IPS. I remember getting a lot of questions. Are you sure you want to do this? Have you thought about your family? Why did you choose to be here? There was a lot of amazement and doubt.
Her first posting was in the Chanakyapuri subdivision of Delhi in 1975. When she was posted in Delhi’s West District, she realized that sufficient officers were not present to handle the criminal activity at hand. She enrolled civilian volunteers who would patrol the streets at night along with an armed policeman.
She was made DCP (Traffic) in October 1981. It was her responsibility to curb traffic snarls in the city due to the preparation for the 1982 Asian Games. This, she did with a strong hand, a hand that didn’t discriminate between the common and the rich and influential. In 1986, she was made DCP of Delhi’s North District, where she had to combat drug abuse. She had founded the Navjyoti Delhi Police Foundation which helped in establishing multiple detox centers.
She had won the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1994 for her remarkable efforts in converting the then-feared Tihar Jail into a model prison, where she had set up vocational training, yoga and meditation sessions and also introduced a panchayat system through which some prisoners would represent other inmates and meet together to sort out problems. At this time, she was the Inspector General to Delhi Prisons.
She is a gutsy woman who has resisted every criticism to do the right thing. It is not a wonder that she has been transferred so many times throughout her career. She stood at the forefront of agitation for passing the Jan Lokpal Bill, which would give way to create anti-corruption and grievance redressal systems and to provide effective protection to whistle-blowers.
Corruption occurs everywhere around us, whether it is visible or not. Starting from large tax evasions to small bribes given to the traffic cops, corruption deems to be inescapable. In the fight against corruption, the voice and anger of people need to be directed to prevent important public institutions to fall prey to the vicious political corruption.
Kiran Bedi’s life teaches us to raise our voice to fight the various social evils and atrocities committed against those who are weak, even if it means social detachment because if your cause is just, it will create a ripple in peoples’ lives.
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