It was a cold Saturday morning. We had just reached Puducherry and set ourselves up at Auroville. The first order of the day was to meet with the prolific Lt. Governor of Puducherry. She was a national level tennis champion when she was a teenager. And then she became the first woman to join the Indian Police Service (IPS) and remained in service for 35 years before taking a voluntary retirement in 2007 as Director General, Bureau of Police Research and Development. She runs the NGO “India Vision Foundation”. An accomplished author, an eloquent activist, Kiran Bedi is multifaceted, to say the least.
So, when I got the chance to spend time with her as part of the Inclusion retreat conducted by the India Inclusion Foundation, I had to take it. We sat with her in her office. After a round of pleasantries, each of us got a chance to ask her a question. Finally, it was my turn. “How do you select leaders? How do you empower them?” I asked.
“Become one of them”, she said, showing the Chair of Lt. Governor. “I am supposed to sit there. But that puts me away from my people. In my tenure of two years, I might have sat there two or three times. Be with your people. This gives you an opportunity to stretch the band a little. You will get to know who will take up the responsibility and handle the crisis. But make sure you don’t stretch way too much that the band snaps. If you want others to do something, you better do it first.”
From my childhood, I always wondered how a conversation with Kiran Bedi ma’am would be. I was lucky enough to meet her last week. At the ripe age of 68, cycling around Puducherry, listening to the grievances of the people is No Joke. In less than two years of her tenure, she has taken 138 such bicycle rides across Puducherry. “I do it in my personal time. 6 AM to 9 AM on weekends, I am not bound by law to do anything. I can be lazy and go back to bed or I can pick up my bicycle and go and talk to people. This way, I am healthy too. Can there be a better deal? WHAT YOU BECOME IS YOUR OWN CHOICE.”
No doubt she is an inspiration to millions.