Kiran Bedi: A Fearless Woman of Many Firsts

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The Story of Kiran Bedi, A Woman of Many Accolades and Catalyst of Change

Kiran Bedi (@kiranbediofficial) is a social activist who has fought all gender stereotypes to make her way to the top. She holds the distinction of being the 1st women IPS officer in our country. A woman of many accolades, she has inspired millions of young girls to take a stand and not let anyone else reign their lives. Her determination and commendable willpower are worthy of every praise. Let us see her journey from a small-town girl in Punjab to the true icon that she is today!

Early Life of Kiran Bedi

Courtesy: Pinterest

Kiran Bedi was born in Amritsar, Punjab on June 9th, 1949. Her parents, Prakash Peshawaria and Prem Peshawaria made a number of sacrifices to make sure that all 4 of their daughters, receive proper education and succeed in life, at a time when misogynistic values of not providing education to girls, were prevalent in the society. She attended the

Sacred Heart Convent School where she participated in the National Cadet Corps (NCC). She took an interest in tennis and achieved many titles like:

  • Junior National Lawn Tennis Championship, 1966
  • Asian Lawn Tennis Championship, 1972 
  • All India Interstate Women’s lawn tennis Championship, 1976.


  • In 1968, she pursued a Bachelor of Arts in English (Hons.) from the Government College for Women 
  • In 1970,  Master’s degree in Political Science from Punjab University, Chandigarh 
  • In 1988,  she obtained a degree in Law (LLB) from the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi, simultaneously doing her active duty as a police officer.
  • In 1993, she obtained a PhD in social science from IIT, Delhi, with her thesis on Drug Abuse and Domestic Violence.

She continued her education even after her marriage to Brij Bedi in 1972 and the birth of her daughter Saina in 1975, who also works in social services, following in her mother’s footsteps.


She has assumed various roles in her career trajectory. Her career started in the year 1970, when she took the job of a lecturer at Khalsa College for Women in Amritsar. In 1972 , Kiran Bedi became the first woman to join the IPS (Indian Police Service) and became the highest ranking officer. All through her tenure, she was faced with rigorous and challenging assignments, and she worked extremely hard to put in her whole-hearted efforts into it. Her profiles range includes;

  •  Traffic Commissioner of New Delhi
  •  Deputy Inspector General of Police in insurgency prone Mizoram
  •  Advisor to the Lieutenant Governor of Chandigarh
  •  Director General of the Narcotics Control Bureau.

Fun Fact: Kiran Bedi is often referred to as ‘Crane Bedi’, because she towed the car of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, for a parking violation. This shows the sense of responsibility and dedication that she has in her work. In 1994, in the capacity of Inspector General of Prisons, she brought many reforms in the management of Tihar Jail, addressing the corruption and human right abuses in the prison and implemented many programmes like detoxification programmes, yoga, vipassana meditation, literary programs and redressing prisoner complaints, etc.

Courtesy: Pinterest

In 2003, Bedi became the first woman and the first Indian to be appointed in the United Nations in New York as the Civilian Police Advisor to the Secretary-General, in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, for which she was awarded a UN medal. She has represented India in International forums on crime prevention, police and prisoner reforms, drug abuse and women’s issues. In 2005, her last appointment was of the Director-General of India’s Bureau of Police Research and Development, from which she voluntarily retired in 2007, to take up other social challenges. 

In 2016, she took over as the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Puducherry, but she was recently removed from the position due to some political rivalries with the opposition. She even posted a farewell message on her Twitter handle Wednesday, expressing gratitude for ‘Team Raj Nivas’, wishing the people of Puducherry a prosperous future and saying “whatever was done was a sacred duty fulfilling my constitutional and moral responsibilities”.

Courtesy: TED

Social Services

She is the founder of 2 voluntary nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) 

  1. Navjyoti (1988)  
  2. India Vision Foundation (1994), 

She established the Navjyoti Foundation, with 17 other police officers, with an aim to provide rehabilitation for drug addicts. Now, the foundation has expanded its sphere to involve issues such as illiteracy and women empowerment. In 1994, she set up India Vision Foundation to bring about police reforms, prison reforms, women empowerment and rural and community development. Her organizations were awarded the ‘Serge Sotiroff Memorial Award’ for drug abuse prevention by the United Nations and she received an honorary degree of ‘Doctor of Law’.

Currently, her NGOs are running four Indira Gandhi National Open University registered, community colleges and are to provide vocational and soft skills training to Indian youth. Her initiative, ‘Mission Safer India’, aims to ensure that police log and address citizen complaints.

Courtesy: LinkedIn

She has been a key member of India Against Corruption (IAC) along with Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal. She was also arrested during anti-corruption protests, but that did not shake her resolve and willpower. Her efforts to eradicate corruption paid off when the Parliament passed a resolution to consider three points in the drafting of the Lokpal Bill. She has a number of books and newspaper columns, through which she spreads awareness to bring about social change on various issues. She became host in 2009–10 on the reality TV show ‘Aap Ki Kachehri Kiran Ke Saath’ on Star Plus. She is the author of many books, including,

  • It’s Always Possible: One Women’s Transformation of India’s Prison System
  • What Went Wrong?
  • The Motivating Bedi 
  • Government@net
  • As I see; Broom & Groom 
  • Uprising 2011
Courtesy: Kiran Bedi

Awards and Titles

Kiran Bedi has received many awards including:

  • The President’s Gallantry Award (1979)
  •  Women of the Year Award (1980)
  • Asia Region Award for Drug Prevention and Control (1991)
  • Ramon Magsaysay Award (1994) for Government Service
  • Mahila Shiromani Award (1995)
  • Father Machismo Humanitarian Award (1995)
  • Lion of the Year (1995)
  • Joseph Beuys Award (1997)
  • Pride of India (1999)
  • Mother Teresa Memorial National Award for Social Justice (2005)
  • Amity Woman Achiever for Social Injustice (2007)
  • Public Service Excellence Award (2007)
  • Zee Astitva Award (2007)
  • The Indian Society of Criminology (2008)
  • Pride of Punjab (2008)
  • Women Excellences Awards (2009)
  • The Nomura Award (2013) for humanitarian works.

Motivational Quotes by Kiran Bedi

  • “People who do not take charge of their lives are lathi-charged by time.”
  • “What is the value of education which does not inculcate passion and fearlessness for setting right what is wrong?“
  • “I had a clear vision: if I take up an assignment, I’ll do full justice to it; otherwise I’ll walk away.”
  • “What a national revolution it would be if each one of us were to self-police.”

A woman of principles and a symbol of hard work, Kiran Bedi has been a role model, not only for women but for the whole country. There are a great number of lessons that we can learn from her. We hope you enjoyed this article into the life of a true icon. For more stories on the lives of influential figures, check out our blogs at Leverage Edu!

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