Kiran Bedi - epitomizing 'woman-power'
An Indian social activist and a retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, Kiran Bedi is indeed an inspirations for millions of women across India. Born in Amritsar, Punjab, she also holds credit for completing her Ph.D. in Social Sciences from the Department of Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, the topic of her thesis being ‘Drug Abuse and Domestic Violence.’
Her career flagged off as a lecturer in Political Science, though soon after she joined the IPS, and was the first woman to do so, which itself claims appraisal. She has been reported saying that her urge to be ‘outstanding” propelled her to join such a career-path, which was till then considered to be entirely a male domain. She has served a number of challenging assignments, such as in New Delhi traffic postings, the Deputy Inspector General of Police in Mizoram, or Advisor to the Lieutenant Governor of Chandigarh. She has also been the Director General of Narcotics Control Bureau and has influenced several crucial decisions in that area. Once a United Nations delegate, she became the Civilian Police Advisor at its peacekeeping operations. She even towed the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s car for violating the parking regulations, for which she earned the nickname of ‘Crane Bedi’.
She brought about a number of managerial reforms in Tihar Jail during her tenure as the Inspector General of Prisons there. Several progressive measures such as detoxification programs, Art of Living Foundation Prison courses, yoga, vipassana meditation, literacy programs etc. were initiated by her. For bringing about such constructive implementations in Tihar Jail, she was awarded the 1994 Ramon Magsaysay Award and she also won the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship to write about her work during her service in Tihar Jail.
She had last served as the Director General of India’s Bureau of Police Research and Development, till she chose voluntary retirement in December 2007. As an acknowledgement of her “humanitarian approach to prison reforms and policing”, she was felicitated with an honorary degree of Doctor of Law in May 2005. All along her career, she has won numerous awards and honours such as President Gallantry Award, Pride of Indian Award, FICCI Award, Public Service Excellence Award, Woman of the Year Award and many others.
The popular TV series “Aap Ki Kachehri (“Your Court”) based on real-life disputes had her as the host and judge, providing a platform for both the parties to resolve their disputes. She has also authored a number of books, all of which are centred on her life and career, which is an illustrious example for generations of young women. Some of these books include - It’s Always Possible: Transforming one of the biggest prisons in the world, The Motivating Bedi, As I See and Himmat Hai.