Kiran Bedi, the iron-willed police officer, the icon of the modern Indian women strongly believes in Gandhiji’s dictum, ‘hating the sin and not the sinner”. Or, in other words, abhors the crime and not the criminal. A versatile woman combining in herself strength, courage, confidence, dignity, honesty and gentility—Kiran Bedi typifies not only the modern woman but a true Indian woman.
As a child, she was extremely courageous, excelling in sports as well as academics. She was extremely sensitive to the needs of the society and the downtrodden. Her family as she says is the source of her strength and responsible for her achievements.
Kiran Bedi first made history and caught attention when she became the first woman to join the Indian Police Service which was until that time, considered a man’s domain. Hence, she like an eagle, dared to soar high even if it meant soaring alone. But in the process somewhere, she opened new vistas and horizons for women to explore and dare to discover.
But, there was no stopping for the iron lady here. As an IPS, it became her sole motive to reform the prevalent system of the working of one of the most high-security jails of India—the Tihar Jail in Delhi. Determined to change the system and reform the so called hardened criminals, Kiran Bedi set out on her reform mission. Her goal and courage at least reaped favourable results and the world was now beginning to recognize her efforts. She was honoured with the Asia Region Award for the prevention of Drug and in 1994 she was honoured with the prestigious Magsaysay Award. Mrs. Bedi’s strong conviction to give opportunities to the criminals to reform and change has proved that creating a conducive environment and helping them to lead a decent life the society can be changed gradually and be benefitted by the so called anti-social people.
With Mrs. Bedi making news as a lady IPS, she in reality contradicts the common man’s ideology of a very tough and a masculine woman. Beneath the tough exterior are a dutiful wife and a caring mother too. It hides a kind and gentle personality. She believes that every criminal should be given a chance to reform and change. Just punishing and treating them as outcastes will not help society in any way. If we desire to make society better we need to, in fact, reform them.
During her posting at the Tihar Jail, she found that most of the prisoners were illiterate. She felt that being illiterate and thus ignorant was the root cause of the escalating crime rate. People did not have enough means to earn their livelihood, nor an outlet for their energy and life force. Hence,1 as the saying goes, “An empty mind is the devil’s workshop.” According to Mrs. Bedi, Education enlightens the mind and soul and thus lowers and even prevents crime to a large extent.
Moreover, the Jail system should be designed and incorporated not to punish but reform those who have lost their direction. Just cruelly stuffing them into jails and treating them like annuals will only distract them from the right path all the more. They will further deviate from the social ideals of right living and harden into even more ferocious and violent criminals. Thus, she emphasized on reforming criminals and converting our butcher-house like jails into true reform houses. She did not wait for anyone to make the first move but set herself with a Dickensonian goal to set an example herself and work for the underdogs of the society.
The strength of Mrs. Bedi’s conviction, her unshakable determination and her firmness to set things right is what earns her a great repute of a true disciplinarian. Nothing is beyond her reach—she even earned a very humorous nickname as ‘Crane Bedi’ regarding her strictness about lifting vehicles parked in restricted areas.
The modern iron lady is a symbol of firmness, determination and dedication to the youth of India. She is a beacon to the society, the people and especially the youth that if one is determined to do something then nothing can become a barrier. If people are determined to change the society for better, then even one person can make a difference. We only need to change our mindset and attitude that a single person cannot make a difference. People like Kiran Bedi are such examples who break the rule and become great exceptions and set precedents for the society at large.