Bedi was born on 9 June 1949 in Amritsar, in a well-to-do Punjabi business family.
She is the second child of Prakash Lal Peshawaria and Prem Lata . She has three sisters: Shashi, Reeta, and Anu. Her great-great-grandfather Lala Hargobind had migrated from Peshawar to Amritsar, where he set up a business.
Bedi’s upbringing was not very religious, but she was brought up in both Hindu and Sikh traditions (her grandmother was a Sikh).
Bedi started her formal studies in 1954, at the Sacred Heart Convent School in Amritsar. She participated in National Cadet Corps (NCC), among other extra-curricular activities. At that time, Sacred Heart did not offer science; instead, it had a subject called “household”, which was aimed at grooming girls into good housewives.
Bedi graduated in 1968, with a BA (Honours) in English, from Government College for Women at Amritsar. The same year, she won the NCC Cadet Officer Award. In 1970, she obtained a master’s degree in political science from Panjab University, Chandigarh.
From 1970 to 1972, Bedi taught as a lecturer at Khalsa College for Women in Amritsar. She taught courses related to political science. Later, during her career in the Indian Police Service, she also earned a law degree from Faculty of Law, University of Delhi in 1988 and a Ph.D. from IIT Delhi’s Department of Social Sciences in 1993.
On 16 July 1972, Bedi started her police training at the National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie. She was the only woman in a batch of 80 men, and became the first woman IPS officer.
United Nations Medal, 2004
Ramon Magsaysay Award, 1994
President’s Police Medal, 1979