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"There is nothing wrong in being ordinary if you choose to be. However, one must learn to be happy and contented while being ordinary.

Dr. Kiran Bedi
India’s top female cop and currently the Director General-Home Guards and Director-Civil Defence



Counsellors’ job is to invoke “why” in students: Dr. Kiran Bedi

Dr. Kiran Bedi, of course, needs no introduction. She is India’s top female cop and currently the Director General-Home Guards and Director-Civil Defence. She created history when she joined the élite Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1972, the first woman in India to do so. Her remarkable journey did not stop there. Her innovative approach and knack for bringing in new perspectives to the tasks that she lays her hands on enabled her to contribute greatly to innumerable policing and prison reforms.

Besides her professional contributions, two voluntary organizations founded and supervised by her—Navjyoti, set up in 1988 and India Vision Foundation in 1994— reach out to thousands of poor children daily for primary education and women for adult literacy. Apart from this, these organizations also provide vocational training and counselling services in the slums, rural areas and inside the prison besides reaching out for treating drug addiction.

Dr. Bedi has also been an Asian Tennis Champion. She holds a law degree and has a Doctorate in the field of drug abuse and domestic violence. Inter alia, Dr. Bedi has been conferred the Ramon Magsaysay Award (Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize) for government service. Successful author, orator and a much-sought-after inspirational speaker, Dr. Bedi recently spoke on counselling at a Counsellors’ Meet organized by AmityCARE, the couselling wing of Amity Universe, on the 20th of April, 2006. Bhuwan Sharma and Sandhya Sharma of Amity EduMedia attended the Meet.

Here are the excerpts from her speech.

Children of today are asking a lot of questions. We have to rewind our past and ask ourselves what went right and what went wrong in our own lives and then reach out to children keeping those personal and learning experiences in mind. When you start doing a rewind, you start becoming more perceptive and more sensitive.

Students today ask a lot of questions. Why must I do this? Why should this happen? Why must I behave in this manner? What is the benefit of all this? Why must I learn Liberal Sciences when Computers would be better? Why should I learn Geography, History or Mathematics? So, when you are suggesting a subject or a concept, they are all the time asking why. Without losing patience, you have to answer those questions. Like, for instance, when a child asks why s/he must learn History, you should be able to tell him/her that it is essential to learn lessons to know what went right and what went wrong in the past.

When I was pursuing my Master’s in Political Science, I was doing a lot of self-learning. Since I was a lawn tennis player, I was out of the classroom for months and self-learning was extremely essential. I used to ask myself: Why must I do well? The answer that used to come to my mind was that if I don’t do well, I will get left out in society. I may just become an ordinary person and I did not want to be ordinary. Cannot one become ordinary? It’s a choice to be made! There is nothing wrong in being ordinary if you choose to be. However, one must learn to be happy and contented while being ordinary. While being ordinary, the child should not feel as to why s/he cannot be so and so. You should tell the child that if you choose to be ordinary, you should be at peace with yourself. These are the messages that one needs to give to children today. Tell them that when you have chosen to be ordinary, you should not start comparing yourself with the extraordinary. Start counselling keeping at the backdrop the whole concept of how one can be at peace with oneself.

In my case, I chose to be extraordinary. It was ingrained in me by my parents and by my own learning. And since that thought was part of my system, I started pondering on how to be extraordinary. Once you have answered the why, the how automatically comes in. So, when I was competing internationally and traveling for most of the time, I used to carry suitcases of books despite nobody telling me to do that. No more was I studying only to pass an examination but to research for myself. What is it that made Plato so brilliant? What is it that made Aristotle so different? What is it that Lockes, Rousseau and Milton are saying? Why are they saying what they are saying? Why is Plato thinking like this? Why is Aristotle thinking like this? I researched and researched. Why? Because the why had already been generated within me. And I was convinced on the why. So that is the role of the counsellor. It is to invoke the why in the students. But you must also be able to answer the why. You must never stop answering the why.

So friends, what I wanted to share with you teachers and counsellors is that the moment the child is convinced on the why, you cannot stop him. After that, you just need to explain him/her how. Come out on the why’s and then the child will automatically ask you how. When he does that, you can be sure that you have brought the child on track.

My father and mother made me visualize myself in uniform. They made me visualize me as a champion. They made me visualize what I am doing today. It was a lot of shadow boxing. They made me visualize hitting a drop shot. I was from Amritsar and it wasn’t the best place for tennis. The better places for tennis were metropolitan cities where there were a lot of coaching schemes, ball machines and so on. Then, Amritsar didn’t even have a proper tennis court. What did I do? I hit the wall. I hit the wall hundreds of times. I did shadow practice as a child. I did footwork. It was footwork and hitting a cross shot. It was footwork and hitting a drop shot. So my friends, as counsellors and teachers and as parents, it is also essential to make the young ones visualize their future

 The important thing is answering the why. For instance, a child may ask: Why shouldn’t parents be sent to Old People’s Home? You should be able to tell them that it should not be done because they are not growing up in a Children’s Home. They should be told that if parents are sharing space and tolerating them, they should also tolerate them when they grow old.

So friends, before I speak the parting words, I would like to tell you that we as teachers, counsellors and educationists and mentors have to first of all ask ourselves why. Do I have the fire within to invoke fire in the other person? If you are not inspired, you cannot inspire the other person. If you are cold within, what kind of heat will you give to others? If you want to impart heat, then you have to be warm yourself. You have to be warm within to give warmth or transfer the warmth.


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