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- 10 Most admired Indians : Cop of big things


Source:  "Ten most admired Indians", Sept 10 2000 The Week

Kiran Bedi
Cop of big things
By Gautam Kaul

SHE stands at the minimum qualifying height for her job. She gave up sari soon after she entered the service; today she wears trousers with kurta and a Jawahar

jacket, a faint imitation of what Rajiv Gandhi wore. She packs in herself unbelievable energy, and is the only Indian police person to receive the Magsaysay Award.

She wishes a day had a 25th hour, for it is filled with her commitments, She has solutions to all sorts of problems and people are keen to hear her even on matters which she has not specialised in. She photographs well even now in her fifties, and if she is put before a television camera she falls in love with it. But you take a risk if you are sparring with her, as Tim Sebastian of the BBC did some months ago and lost face for himself in India.

KiranbediShe is hard-nosed and soft- hearted. Twenty years ago, she let her hair fall on her shoulders. Today, they are burdened with the task of healing those given to drugs and desolation. She is the most recognised face among Indian women, after Lata Mangeshkar.

That is Kiran Bedi for you.

There is much to Kiran’s up bringing which has contributed to her current stature. She was her father’s favourite of four daughters, wham he treated more like sans. At school and in college, an extrovert Kiran showed spunk and spirit, and took to tennis at a time when not many women wore shorts and played before the piercing male stares in Punjab. She won the women’s Asian title. Tennis gave her the first public platform and helped build up her public personality. Donning the police uniform was, there- fore, simply exchanging the tennis kit of whites to one of khaki.

Kiran has remained a trailblazer, picking up issues which had to be resolved. Her score card has failures too but women all over the country looked up to her. Her male colleagues fretted and fumed on how to handle this mercurial woman in their charge, whether it was getting her to shift the awarded contract for traffic publicity during the 1982 Asian Games or her tiff with the chief minister of Mizoram a decade ago.

When it was decided to ’fix’ Kiran by posting her as chief supervisor at the Tihar Jail in New Delhi, the officials committed a big blunder, She emerged out of that confinement with a Magsaysay in hand.

When Kiran presents a case she is intently heard. A scrap of a typed page, listing the equipment for the Police Training College in Delhi, which she handed to the Union home minister became a proposal for 16 computers, 16 shooting simulators, a multimedia projection system and an indoor gymnasium, costing over Rs 3 crore. The speed at which the proposal was executed is unlikely to be rivalled.

Kiran Bedi is vulnerable on one count. She does not like to talk about her family, her friends, or her marriage. An art connoisseur and industrialist in Amritsar, her husband Brij Bedi prefers to work for his favourite city and stay there, leaving Kiran the rest of the world to herself.

I have often wondered where will Kiran end up. She has reached a certain stratospheric level, which denies the intimacy of private life. Her yoga sessions are the only time she shuts up in her world. Her daily schedules are maddening, and her international commitments make her the most travelled police officer in the country. Then she has to tie up her lecture engagements in the country with her police duties.

She has inspired a film – Tejaswani – in which Shantipriya enacts four episodes of Kiran’s real life. Kiran is a star in her own right. If women have taken to police profession in India with gusto, it is due to the example she has set, In Kiran’s own list of the women she admires most, Indira Gandhi is way up, And between the two women, the women of the country are all wrapped up emotionally as one strong gender.

(Gautam Kaul, DGP Indo-Tibetan Border Police, was Kiran Bedi’s guru in Delhi Police.)


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