Dr. Kiran Bedi was born on 9 June 1949, In Amritsar. She started her formal studies in 1954, she graduated in 1968 with BA(Honors) In English, she also did a law degree from the University of Delhi in 1988 and a Ph.D. from IIT Delhi Department of social science in 1993. She is India’s first woman to join Indian Police Service.
Kiran joined the Indian Police Service in 1972. After completing her training at the National Police Academy at Mount Abu, Rajasthan, she was posted as the Sub-Divisional Police Officer at the Chanakyapuri Police Station in New Delhi and became the first woman in uniform to lead the all-male contingent of the Delhi Police at the Republic Day Parade in 1975.
Tennis was a family sport for Kiran Bedi, as her father was a great tennis player
of his times. He initiated all four daughters into playing competitive tennis.
Kiran Bedi started playing tennis from the age of 9 and always recalls going
straight to the tennis court from School where her father would be waiting for
her and her sister Reeta and would personally train them in tennis.
She grew up playing tennis and believing that in this world there is no time for
losers. To be a winner one just needed the right attitude and right strategies.
Her father used to tell her, “ life is on an incline you either go up or you come
down,” and she knew she had to always work her way up the ladder.
She won the National Junior championship in 1966 and the senior National title
in 1974. She also became the Asian tennis champion in 1972. She played
competitive tennis from the age of 13 to the age of 30 even after joining the
IPS. She travelled the length and breadth of the country playing matches and
tournaments, travelled with the boys and beat them in many matches too. She
was one of the few girls of her times playing tennis that too from a tier two city
Kiran Bedi, always believes that if not for tennis, she wouldn’t have been able
to make it to the police service. Tennis gave her the stamina and also her
attitude for life and strategies she uses, were also learnt by her through tennis.
She learnt the value of hard work and persistence through tennis.
Even today at the age of 72, she takes time off to play tennis at the courts of
the Gymkhana club in Delhi.
The then-home secretary K C Pant tried to dissuade her from joining
the police service as there were no women in it before her. But Kiran
Bedi was determined to join the police service and the sports and NCC
background she had gave her the confidence to step into this male-
dominated field. Even at the academy, she was asked if she would
like a different uniform, or would like different training from the boys.
But she chose to wear the same uniform and take the same training
as the boys. She would beat the boys in marathons, tennis matches,
and other training games. All the boys in her batch looked up to her
and knew they had tough competition ahead of them.
Kiran Bedi was the senior-most probationer and should have been the
chosen one to lead the republic day parade. But she heard that an
officer junior to her had been chosen to lead the parade and she had
been overlooked just because she is a woman. She met her senior
officer Mr. P R Rajagopal and asked him why she was not allowed to
lead the parade. He in turn asked her, " Kiran you mean you can lead
the parade?" to which she replied, " Why not sir, I have trained
equally with the boys and I can easily lead the parade." He
immediately shook hands with her and told her she would lead the
parade. In the harsh winters of Delhi, she would practice marching
with a sword in her hand 14 kms every day. She did lead the parade
and became the first woman to lead an all-male contingent in the
Republic Day Parade. Seeing a woman lead the parade, the then
Prime Minister Smt Indira Gandhi cheered for her and invited her for
breakfast the very next day.
When Kiran Bedi was ACP Delhi, the Akalis and Nirankaris were
fighting against each other and the Nirankari’s were leading an
agitation towards the India Gate and Vijay Chowk. She went along
with her DCP Platoon to stop the mobs from reaching Rashtrapati
Bhavan and the parliament house. But they tried to enter all the
roads which led to these buildings. Kiran Bedi kept running from one
road to another controlling these mobs. Soon she found herself all
alone, fighting against these mobs and all she had in her hand was a
wooden baton. She went ahead with the sheer sense of duty and
fought against them and controlled the mob single-handedly. She
was injured during this operation but didn't let the pain stop her from
doing her duty. For this courageous act, she was awarded the
President Gallantry Medal in 1979.
AS DCP West, Kiran Bedi introduced the system of beatboxes which
was a simple concept of neighborhood policing. In less than a month
she set up more than 100 blue and white beatboxes in the area and
what was interesting was that these were mostly funded by the
donations coming in from the area itself. The concept of beat policing
is that these boxes were manned by a local police constable stationed
as a beat officer, for three hours every day. This brought police
assistance to the doorstep. The beat officer would report to the SHO (
station house officer) every day. The beatbox system was monitored
by an intensive security system. The beatboxes brought policemen to
the civil area and helped settle all sorts of disputes easily. " The beat
constable has started thinking that the beat is his home, just as his
home has to be kept clean, so has his beat to be kept clean," said
Kiran Bedi in an interview to a newspaper.
As the DCP West, Kiran Bedi had assured the people that not a single
case of arbitrary arrest would take place in her area. When a person
who earned his living by selling vegetables and was a reformed and
rehabilitated erstwhile criminal was arrested arbitrarily because of a
dacoity committed in South District, his family approached Kiran Bedi
in the hope of help and claiming a breach of trust. She found herself
in a situation where the case was not under her jurisdiction. Despite
that, she approached the Commissioner of Police who ticked her off,
conveying that she needn’t be involved in the case. As a dedicated
public servant, Kiran Bedi conducted her investigations and
concluded that the accused was not at fault. Her investigations were,
however, rejected by the South District which had already solved the
case within 24 hours. It is with many difficulties and after the press
coverage of the investigation undertaken by her that the accused was
finally released and she was able to expose the spites of South
Preceding her reputation as ‘Crane Bedi’, the people of Goa were filled with expectation. For them, her arrival meant an expected reform in the mismanagement of traffic in Goa. There, the challenge for Kiran Bedi was to manage heavy traffic in the Union Territory with a team of not more than twenty-five traffic officials. The force was not just small but also inefficient. They were used to working without a uniform, preferring to remain in the background since being such a sparse force meant almost no control and no respect due to which roads in Goa were turned to free-for-all highways of death and destruction. One of the first few steps that she took as the DCP Traffic of Goa was to rejuvenate the officials by inspiring them, following which the traffic force became efficient and for the first time in years, Goans witnessed traffic police involved in resolving traffic snarls. Like all her previous postings, this one too had Kiran Bedi in a conflict with the VIPs and ‘babus’ who took rules for granted. On several occasion she faced drifts with VIPs who took traffic rules for granted, the drift went to an extent where for the cause of upholding the law, refused the Chief Minister when he asked her to withdraw police action from the VIP Cars illegally parked.
While she was in Goa, a bridge was built over the Zuari River but was not brought to use just because there wasn’t a VIP inauguration for it and was rendered inaccessible for the public. While on patrol one day, Kiran Bedi found a huge snarl-up at the ferry point and decided to immediately order the removal of blockades from the bridge and diverted the traffic towards it, thereby ‘inaugurating’ the bridge in the most down to earth manner.
The same year Goa hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting(CHOGM) which involved a visit from heads of state of governments from around the world. Kiran Bedi once again found herself in charge of managing the traffic arrangement of a prestigious international event. But this time it was all the more challenging for her since it was impossible to manage traffic on a 40km route during a high-level visit with a force of mere twenty-five officials. But with her wits, she saw that the people of Goa were enthusiastic about the event and decided to involve the NCC Cadets in traffic management after training them on Sundays. Another grand success came Kiran’s way as she ensured smooth management of the traffic during the CHOGM.
Within the first three weeks of working in the new office, she sent a detailed report of her observations on the shortcomings and measures for the effective functioning of the department. As in most of her other postings, Kiran Bedi once again set off to check realities on the ground going beyond office walls, and based on her observations, she drafted some trend-setting reports for circulation. Some of the most important directives and recommendations in her report included industries to adopt practices such as a five-minute warm-up exercise before the start of work, having the same meals in common canteens for workers, wearing a uniform to induct a sense of cohesiveness and unity among workers, better leave facilities with incentives, etc. she visited industries like Maruti and regularly wrote to the then PM Rajiv Gandhi about best practices that we could learn from these industries and adopt in our working style. Due to her vigilant work, suggestions, and reports, the DGIC gradually made its presence felt and its report was being sent to the decision-makers for coordination. This posting gave Kiran Bedi a chance to gain practical experience in management. When workers at a cement plant in Bokajan, Assam held a strike, she was called upon by her Director-General to resolve the strike. She gladly agreed to the task and within twenty-four hours of her arrival at the unit, Kiran Bedi with the help of the District Deputy Commissioner was able to sign an agreement ensuring that the workers’ demands were satisfactorily met and they returned to work. Her extensive work at the DGIC transformed the working of the department.
Mizoram was a whole new terrain for Kiran Bedi to handle. The place, the culture of the people, the challenges were all completely new for her. But soon she began to mingle with the people, understand their needs and their culture, and started to find solutions to their problems accordingly. Mizos as a tribe involve themselves in a lot of music and singing. So to curb the problem of drug abuse, she encouraged them to practice a lot more music, to divert their mind and rehabilitate them.
Kiran Bedi, during this time also managed to do a good amount of work for her Ph.D. thesis on drug abuse and domestic violence which she was pursuing from IIT Delhi.
This was the time her daughter completed 12th Standard from a School in Mizoram under the Mizoram board and got admission to a Medical College in Delhi. The Mizo’s protested against this because they believed she had misused their quota to get her daughter admission. They even threatened to burn down her house. Kiran Bedi with the help of the then governor Swaraj, left Mizoram overnight to avoid any form of violence in the city. Her father had also taken ill at this time and needed better care. Hence Kiran Bedi returned to Delhi.
When Kiran Bedi got this posting, which was considered a punishment posting, her predecessors told her that her work would be just to clear 3 files every day.
But Kiran Bedi as always knew there was a purpose behind her getting this posting. So on the very first day, she reached the prison at ( AM not in uniform but in a Pathan suit and sports shoes ready to walk the prison. Before she entered Tihar, the prisoners lacked the most basic facilities ranging from lack of access to food to lacking sanitary conditions. While at Tihar, Kiran Bedi was dedicated to turning the Prison into a reformative ashram. She immediately ordered better sanitary and health facilities in the Prison and took to frequent rounds for inspection of these facilities. She was of the firm opinion that her role was not to be judgmental about the crimes of even hardened criminals but to provide them opportunities where they can live a safe, secure, healthy, and comfortable life. In the brief regime of Kiran Bedi, rigid and distant hierarchies were broken down. The prisoners were protected and stood enveloped from all sides- officers, staff, and the useful members of the community. She also introduced the system of the mobile petition box. It was introduced to counter gossip network which was marked predominantly by secrecy, callousness, and indifference, to counter which locked box was circulated among the prisoners. They wrote about their problems like water scarcity, unsatisfactory cleanliness, ineffective supervision, absence of doctors, and non-availability of medicines. Through these mobile petition boxes, suggestions were given for improvement, valuable information provided, creativity encouraged by sharing, feeling of gratefulness expressed, also grievances against police, court, and lawyers expressed. To empower women’s conditions in the prison, they were firmly made literate by inmates as well as outside teachers. : A great tragedy with these women was that their children born in their prison time were had to also remain in prison amid all those dire circumstances. Confined in the four walls of the magnanimous Tihar jail, they were deprived of their childhood. To improve their conditions, Mahila Pratiraksha Mandal was established. The nursery school was established to teach 60 children who were deprived of their basic human rights without any fault of their own. To keep the prisoners busy as well as equip them with the necessary skills to earn livelihood in the future Kiran Bedi also introduced opportunities for vocational training. From introducing education to bringing in vocational training and meditation programs like Vipassana in prison, her reformative work in Tihar won her international acclaim. She was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award in August 1994 for her work in prison reform. With the prize money, she started the India Vision Foundation for prison reforms. The foundation has completed 27 years of working in this field.
As she took office, she realized that the College lacked facilities and the cadets were ill-trained. As she was informed of the induction of 1700 new cadets for training while the college had no facility to teach or accommodate them. A teacher at heart she was looking forward to sharing her knowledge with the cadets but found that the College lacked facilities like a proper IT training center.
During her initial days when she went on her morning rounds to the classes, she was shocked to see, computers being drawn on blackboards and the cadets being told this is how a computer looks and what each key was meant to do. She immediately wrote to and met the then-home minister Mr. L K Advani and requested for an IT training center to be set up at the police training college. He immediately agreed and a complete IT training center was set up at the police training college.
Going by her earlier practice of having a petition box, she started the system of a feedback box at PTC. Students could write in with their concerns and this kept the teachers also on their toes and none could get away with not teaching properly. The key to the box remained with her and she made it a practice to have lunch with the senior officers of PTC. During the lunch hour, the box would be opened and they would look at all concerns together.
For the first time, Vipassana meditation was introduced in police training college. Kiran Bedi also did the course with all the cadets and it was a historic moment to see the entire training college do meditation together.
She brought in a lot of changes to the police training college during her tenure. She saw her cadets as agents of change who could be delivered as islands of honesty. Through her work, in four years a dilapidated institution was reformed into an elite one.
During her posting at the United Nations, Kiran Bedi put in place very intensively considered operating procedures guidance, documents and policies for peace keeping operations. In an interview she once said, “ When Indian police officers wok for international peace and security they act as India’s ambassadors of peace and come back with a larger vision of policing though global experience. They are able to experience internationally respected practices and evaluate what is relevant for their work back home. In some cases, it may make them more confident of their comparative strengths and professional calibre.”
In the year 2004 she engaged in a lot of peace keeping operations and the team was known as , “ blue. Helmets”. Some of the countries where the team worked include places in Africa and the Caribbean like Cote D Ivoire, Haiti, Burundi and Sudan.
Their mission was to rebuild police structures, recruit, appoint, mentor and train the locals to undo what was wrong and to correct themselves. This had a remarkable effect in war torn countries , but it took time and involved a lot of well resourced, thought through and planned strategies.
Another significant contribution of Kiran Bedi to these peace keeping operations was involving women police officers. For example in Timor Leste more than 25% of the peace keeping force created were women. These operations directly benefit women as they themselves are victims of internal civil wars and they become inspiring role models for nation building.
During this time she travelled widely, wrote regular columns for various publications and also delivered lectures at various Universities.
For her work with the United Nations, she was awarded the UN Medal for Outstanding Service.
When Dr. Kiran Bedi took over as DGP, BPRD, she realized that despite BPRD being the only central agency of the Government of India to critically look at police research it did not have proper systems in place.
The bureau did not have enough funds, hardly any research was being done and the name BPRD itself was a misnomer.
She soon began sending one-page monthly reports to the Union Home Minister and the Home Secretary listing work done by the BPRD and reminding them about pending issues.
She remained persistent with her work on sending these reports although not even one of these reports was acknowledged. She also worked on modernizing the bureau by setting up its website with the help of NIC. She also held regular meetings with registrars of various Universities encouraging research on policing.
BPRD soon began receiving funds and for the first time, they received funds from the Planning commission of India.
Dr. Bedi always believed in giving her best to every assignment and posting that was given to her and in this posting as DGP, BPRD also she gave her best the result of which is seen in the functioning of BPRD even today.
She took voluntary retirement in 2007 from active policing.
The various experiments in governance during the tenure of Lieutenant Governor Dr. Kiran Bedi transformed Puducherry. The Governance in Puducherry was a unique concept that had been based on a True governance model as it should be and follows – Trust | Empowerment | Accountability [TEA] as its mantra. The TEA as a Governance mantra was given by the Lieutenant Governor on the 29th May, 2016 as part of the inaugural address to the people of Puducherry which set in the foundation for a Vision towards a Prosperous Puducherry.
A Pathway to True Governance:
A SWOT analysis was conducted on the first day of meeting with the government officials. The analysis of the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities in Puducherry led to the formation of the 5 pillars of true governance. The Lieutenant Governor built the 5 pillars of True Governance which are Invite | Involve | Resolve | Solve | Evolve.
The first pillar – ‘Invite’ began by opening the doors of Raj Nivas to all sections of the society. The open-air theatres and cinema in the lawns of Raj Nivas saw the integration of people who together celebrated different festivals and participated in various events transforming Raj Nivas to ‘Seva Nivas | People Nivas’. The special visitors to Raj Nivas included the President of India and other eminent dignitaries.
The second pillar of True Governance is ‘Involve’. Involvement of the Lieutenant Governor, the Secretariat with Private participation led to the cleaning of beaches, prison reforms, and dengue prevention. Involvement of the people has led to the emergence of a People’s Movement in Puducherry to make the region water rich, green and clean for the residents to live a quality life. The combined involvement of the People, Corporates and NGO’S led to the Mission Green Puducherry, Water Rich Puducherry and Swachh Puducherry under the leadership of Lt. Governor Dr. Kiran Bedi.
The third pillar of True Governance is ‘Resolve’. The Open House is a system that addresses people’s grievances. An individual with a grievance can submits the petition to the Lt. Governor. Every petition is documented, analysed and attended. Open House has successfully created an accessible and responsive governance. The Weekend Morning Rounds saw the Lt. Governor and Team Raj Nivas collaborating with people to clean the lakes and ponds. The surprise inspections of the police stations, healthcare centres and children’s home form the third pillar of the True Governance of resolving issues.
The fourth pillar of True Governance is ‘Solve’. The Mission Water Rich Puducherry aimed to solve the water crisis in Puducherry. The Lieutenant Governor and Team Raj Nivas worked tirelessly with the help of Corporates as part of their social responsibility to desilt canals for the free flow of water. This Mission has increased the water table of Puducherry. The Lieutenant Governor recognized the donors for their noble contribution in ensuring that water is available for all in the region. The Medical Seats Issue saw the intervention of the Lieutenant Governor Dr. Kiran Bedi who stepped in to protect the students. The CBI investigation recommended by the Lieutenant Governor and the judgements by the judiciary brought an end to this issue. The Lieutenant Governor ensured that there was a Direct Bank Transfer of money instead of free rice to the beneficiaries. The Government of India directed the Puducherry Government to continue with the Direct Bank Transfer of money which affirmed the stand of the Lieutenant Governor. The different solutions to the crisis highlight the importance of the fourth pillar in True Governance which is ‘Solve’, finding solutions to the challenges even in face of adversity.
The fifth pillar of True Governance is ‘Evolve’. The list of the disposal of files is sent to the Public using the various modes of communication. It has helped in keeping everyone aware about the status of the file. The weekly message, publications have been documented for institutional memory. This has evolved as hallmarks of transparency in administration. Covid-19 management continually evolved through sustained and strong coordination leading to the decline of cases in Puducherry.