As a part of the Symbiosis Golden Lecture series, Dr. Kiran Bedi was invited to talk about perseverance and how it is the key to success. She was the first female Indian Police Service officer who is the incumbent Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry. The session was started by Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar, praising Ms. Bedi she said: “The energy you leave behind with us stays intact till the next time you visit.”
The honourable chancellor of Symbiosis University, Dr. S.B. Mujumdar echoed the thought by saying “She’s a fountain of energy and enthusiasm.” He then went on to talk about how COVID-19 taught us three big lessons: “Spirituality, Simplicity and Uncertainty.”
Ms. Bedi began the session by stating the meaning of perseverance to her. She says, “Perseverance to me is just not doing things constantly but to grow and evolve and change for the better alongside.”
She then goes on to state that perseverance comes effortlessly to her after practising them for so long. She then shared four of her mantras for life:
- “I will reap as I sow.” Explaining this she said that sowing positive thoughts will bring positive outcomes and sowing negative thoughts will bring negative ones in your life.
- “You are what you think you are.” Elaborating on this she said, “If you think you are weak, you will be and if you think you are strong, you are.” In this male-dominated world where only muscle matters, she was often asked, “Why are you different?” She answered it by saying, “ I am my own product, my own person and you all should be too.”
- “I am what I spend my time and energy on” Regardless of our differences, yesterday does impact tomorrow. So make sure you spend time on things that matter.
- “Time is fleeting.” You cannot hold time, you can only invest it. Giving an example to this she said, “ An arrow that has left your bow, should always hit the target and if it doesn’t, make sure you find the mistake and make sure the other arrow does.”
Narrating a story from her childhood, she said “A monk every day woke up and thought: When I put my feet on the ground every morning, I choose whether today I want heaven or hell.”
She focuses on virtues and staying positive. Deciding to make every day heavenly and only feed the angel on my shoulder. After sharing her wisdom on the importance of perseverance, we transitioned to the Q/A session with pertinent questions pouring in from both the students and the faculty. Ms Anita Patankar opened the session.
Q) While starting your stint in Puducherry, getting rid of open defecation and transforming the city into a tourist location was a move that was resisted. How did you overcome the response?
Ms. Bedi believes that Goa and Puducherry are like two sides of the same coin. Puducherry was blessed with long shorelines and an untapped opportunity for tourism. She identified two key issues. The requirement of a self-reliant robust infrastructure and foreign investment to develop the industry that was originally managed by the government.
When it came to open defecation she stated that her role didn’t depend on every person’s emotion so long as it was right and within the boundaries of her laws. She vehemently supported the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan movement and Jan Dhan accounts that improved our preparedness for the pandemic and safeguarded the finances of the poor. She finally exclaimed that change: “Will come and has come!”
Q) When you face your life’s biggest obstacles, how do you overcome them? Do you think sometimes obstacles often stem from within us?
She gleefully said that she always ran towards obstacles. Whether it was her soaring over hurdles in the 80-metre races or her 8 am morning drives in Delhi as the DCP studying every bottleneck. Instead of running away from the issue, she took it as an opportunity to grow.
When answering the second part of the question about the issue springing from within she said: “If you’ve ever had a negative thought, look at it, process it, dissect it and resolve it. Never feed your negative thoughts, or it will feed on you. Solve it on that day and don’t worry too much about the next.”
At this point, she recalled a story from her traffic policing days in Delhi. Ms Bedi entailed the block at Ghaziabad caused by the existence of one road, one octroi and drivers having tea breaks. Instead of fearing the ‘big businessmen’ she went to the border, hired a big crane and lifted the trucks for violating the laws. Within 15 mins all the trucks ran away and the roadblocks were no longer an issue.
But you might be wondering about what followed the next day…She simply parked the crane and ordered one officer to announce the new rule of towing it away with the crane every day. She even towed away the Prime Minister’s car to deliver the message that everyone is equal before the law. She chuckled as she told us that this was the main reason behind her nickname “Crane Bedi.”
Q) How did you manage the expectations and burdens of entering a field no women ever has?
She quickly asked a simple question: “Do you live for yourself or others?”. Pick up a profession that is an extension of you. Live life on your terms and be sure of yourself. The only pressure that you should experience is your own.
Answering to the question about being the first female IPS officer she said, “ I’ve had a nice upbringing, and my parents supported me throughout which gave me the stamina to be where I am today and do what is required of me.”
Q) What is your mantra for teenage girls to overcome hurdles and be successful?
According to Ms Bedi, self-reliance is the best way to ensure you can overcome any obstacle. The moment you believe you can, you will. Always ask yourself what kind of life you want to live and work to develop an abundance of stamina, growth and most importantly self-care. Finally, she said that we need to stop differentiating between girls and boys because her mantras work for both teenage girls and boys. She never once believed that she was lesser than her counterparts and neither should you.
Ms. Kiran Bedi left our audience galvanised to work on both ourselves and our goals. As promised it was an intense energetic power-packed session filled with intriguing anecdotes.
Mudiganti Shalini and Aryan Krishnan