Wednesday, August 24, 2016


A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

The Auditorium was packed and I have not seen such a crowd of students eagerly waiting for a guest like the one that awaited the Lt Governor of Pondicherry, Dr Kiran Bedi.  The moment she waled into the Auditorium one could feel the energy she exuded and it would be no exaggeration to say the she is blessed with a charisma which is natural not cultivated. And she connects very well with the younger generation, a talent that the late A P J Abdul Kalam possessed in ample measure. Maybe there is a future President in Dr Kiran Bedi and we must thank Narendar Modi for having appointed her here. The popularity of Kiran Bedi in Pondicherry is eclipsing the politicians and the Congressmen are livid. She has a very genuine and seemingly natural manner of communicating very very complex ideas and I was really impressed by her message and the effective manner in which she delivered it,

The Vice Chancellor of the UNiversity Professor Anisa Basheer Khan had invited her to declare open the building housing the Electron Microscope which the University purchased during the tenure of Professor J A K Tareen and the costly equipment was lying in crates for more than 5 years. The officiating VC was prompt in securing funds for the building and Dr Kiran Bedi was invited to open it. She took the opportunity to address the students and her message was simple and straight forward. She said that the students was "visualize" their future and must be dedicated to that goal. This she said was the mantra of her life. A few lessons from her own life were recalled to drive home the fact that religious identities are not important and she herself came from a mixed Sikh Hindu background and was educated in a Catholic school. In many ways Dr Kiran represents the inherent diversity of India.

The speech given by Dr Kiran Bedi was rich in detail about her life both as the first woman police officer, as a tennis player and as a public figure. Indeed, when I was a student in the University of Delhi way back in the 1970s, she had earned a place for herself in Delhi folklore by the courage with which she faced the political class. There is a famous incident in whcih she and her sub Inspector Naresh Yadava towed away the car of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. In those pre Mandal days India was more civilized and the young Superintendent of Chanakya Puri did not come to grief. Her life was full of challenges and she faced them with fortitude. She has had her moments of frustration as the days following the Lathi charge on the layers at Tis Hazari Court. There is no doubt in my mind that she is a brave woman with a deeply ingrained sense of public service.

The picture I have place on the left shows the eager crowd waiting for her. The only time I have seen such a huge crowd was when Dr A P J Abdul Kalam visited the Campus several years ago and on the day when the team from MHRD arrived early in August 2015 to study the situation on Campus in the waning days of Chandra Krishnamurthi's regime. Kiran Bedi connected with the students and her message resonated when she said that they must remain focused on their goals. She said that when she was preparing for the UPSC examinations she used to study/work atleast 17 hours a day. And she made a forceful plea for gender equality.

Later she met the senior faculty in a separate meetiong in the EC Hall of the UNiversity. She took questions from several of the Deans and Heads assembled there.

The day was also celebrated as Sanskrit Day and the well know scholar Dr Kutumbha Shastri, the former Vice Chancellor of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan gave an address in which he high lighted the contemporary relevance of Sanskrit. He rightly drew the attention of themfact that there is great deal of scientific literature available in the language. The presence of Dr Kiran Bedi added luster to the gathering. I hope that she continues in public service for years to come. Undoubtedly, Kiran Bedi is an inspiration for the youth.

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