As a youngster, Kiran Bedi did it all -- from thrashing eve-teasers to winning accolades in academics, from gaining fame as a promising tennis player to being ‘the first girl in Amritsar to ride a Luna moped’.
This and other glimpses into Bedi’s formative days as the precocious ‘Kinni’ before her eventual transformation into the ‘tough-as-nails’ figure of the no-nonsense IPS officer, is the subject of a comic book on the life of the top cop which was released in 12 languages on Saturday.
Speaking at the event hosted by the Indian Institute of Technology, Bedi fielded questions from students and teachers from various schools in the city who were eager to pick up tips, tackling questions on subjects like leadership and taking inspiration from others.
“Become your own role model, do not copy others. Take inspiration from others, but do not attempt to copy them,” Bedi said.
She also elaborated on ways to develop leadership skills stressing that “passion and compassion are its basis.”
The comic, Kiran Bedi: Making of the Top Cop, published by Diamond Comics has been authored by Rita Peshawaria Menon and Anu Peshawaria, both siblings of Bedi.
According to Bedi, the comic attempts to answer questions she usually faces while interacting at schools and colleges.
“While talking at educational institutes, I get a lot of these frequently asked questions from parents, teachers and students alike who want to know how things like how I became what I am today and what are the events that shaped my ideology. That is the purpose of this book,” she said.
This is the first in a series of illustrated storybooks that will foray into Bedi’s later years and her life beyond the Khaki. The 32-page comic ends with Bedi becoming the first woman IPS officer in the country. The last panel depicts her becoming the mother of a baby girl in the September of 1975.
“The next book in the series will be on policing, the third one will be all about police reforms and the fourth one will be about other areas. So we are continuing with this ‘Top Cop’ series and every year we are coming up with one,” she said.
Finding place in the book are several newspaper clippings on her exploits as a tennis player. Also reproduced are photos of written tips which her father jotted down to help her while she battled it out in court.
“Fight, fight, fight; determination-presence of mind; avoid the neck and rally high,” exhort the notes.
“Kiran Peshawaria is Asia Women’s Tennis Champion,” reads the headline of a PTI report, photographically reproduced in the comic.
Among the several interesting anecdotes illustrated depicts how Bedi got her distinctive boy-cut. According to the comic, it was getting inconvenient for her to play tennis in the hot summer sun. So, after duly consulting her mother, she “ran across the street to her father’s hairdresser who then proceeded to cut it in the only style he knew – a boy-cut”.
“At a time when girls were wedded off early and had to pay large amounts of dowry, my parents motivated me and helped me to become a tennis champion. Why did they do that? This book attempts to address questions like the role to be played by parents and teachers in helping students,” she said.
Bedi also recalled how she dealt with societal pressures upon choosing to become an IPS officer. “When I became an IPS officer, I left the society behind. I knew that I cannot take approval from society for my decisions,” she said.
She also talked about the expectations she had from the students of the current generation. “Students of this generation go on to become morally and ethically rigid. They must go on to become knowledgeable and professional leaders, that is my hope from them,” she said.
The illustrated book has been translated into Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Tamil, Kannada, Oriya, Bengali, English, Marathi, Gujarati, Telugu and Malayalam.