Kiran Bedi (born 9 June 1949) is an Indian social activist and a retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officer. Bedi joined the constabulary service in 1972 and became the first woman officer in the IPS. Bedi held the position of Director General at the Bureau of Police Research and Development before she voluntarily retired from the IPS in December 2007. Bedi was the host and judge of the popular television series “Aap Ki Kachehri” (English: “Your Court”), which is based on real-life disputes and provides a platform for settling differences between accepting parties.
She has also founded two NGOs in India: the Navjyoti Delhi Police Foundation for public assistance and preventive policing in 1988, which was subsequently renamed as the Navjyoti India Foundation in 2007, and the India Vision Foundation for prison reformation, drug abuse prevention, and child welfare in 1994. Bedi was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay award in 1994 for Government service.
Early life and education:
Kiran Bedi was born in Amritsar, Punjab, India. She is the second of four girls of Prakash Peshawaria and Prem Peshawaria. Her three sisters are Shashi, an artist settled in Canada, Reeta, a clinical psychologist and author, and Anu, a lawyer. Bedi earned a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) from the Government College for Women, Amritsar in 1968. She then earned a Master’s degree in Political Science from Punjab University, Chandigarh, graduating at the top of her class in 1970. She later obtained a Bachelor of Laws in 1988 from the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi. In 1993, she obtained a Ph.D. in Social Sciences from the Department of Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi where the subject of her thesis was “Drug Abuse and Domestic Violence.”
She began her career as a Lecturer in Political Science (1970–72) at Khalsa College for Women, Amritsar. In July 1972, she joined the Indian Police Service, becoming the first woman to do so. Bedi joined the police service “because of [her] impulse to be outstanding.” She served in a number of tough assignments ranging from New Delhi traffic postings, Deputy Inspector General of Police in Mizoram, Advisor to the Lieutenant Governor of Chandigarh, Director General of Narcotics Control Bureau, to a United Nations delegation where she became the Civilian Police Advisor in United Nations peacekeeping operations.
For her work in the UN, she was awarded a UN decoration. She is popularly referred to as “Crane Bedi” for towing the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s car for a parking misdemeanor during the PM’s visit to the United States at the time. Kiran Bedi influenced several decisions of the Indian Police Service, particularly in the areas of narcotics control, traffic management, and VIP security.
During her tenure as the Inspector General of Prisons in Tihar Jail (Delhi) from 1993 to 1995, Kiran Bedi instituted several reforms in the prison’s management. She initiated several programs, such as detoxification plans, Art of Living Foundation Prison Courses, yoga, Vipassana speculation, Murat redressing of ailments by captives, and literacy plans. For her contributions, she won the 1994 Ramon Magsaysay Award and the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship to write about her work at Tihar Jail.
She was later appointed as Director General of India’s Bureau of Police Research and Development. In May 2005, she was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Law in recognition of her “humanitarian approach to prison reforms and policing”. On 27 November 2007, she expressed her desire to voluntarily retire from the police force to undertake new challenges in life. On 25 December 2007, the Government of India agreed to relieve Bedi of her responsibilities as Director General of the Bureau of Police Research and Development.
Kiran Bedi is married to Brij Bedi, a social activist-cum-businessman from Amritsar, who runs Citizens’ Forum Vidya Mandir, a school for destitute students.
Kiran Bedi, along with 17 other police officers, set up Navjyoti India Foundation (NIF) in 1987. NIF started with a de-addiction and rehabilitation enterprise for drug addicts and now the organization has expanded to other social issues like illiteracy and women’s empowerment. In 1994, Bedi established India Vision Foundation, which works in the field of police reforms, prison reforms, women’s empowerment, and rural and community development. Her efforts have won national and international recognition, and her organizations were awarded the “Serge Soitiroff Memorial Award” for drug abuse prevention by the United Nations.
Kiran Bedi is one of the outstanding members of the India Against Corruption (IAC), along with Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal. IAC has been actively protesting against corruption and is pressing the Indian government to enact a strong Lokpal Bill. On 16 August 2011, key members of the India Against Corruption, including Bedi, were arrested four hours before the planned indefinite hunger strike by Hazare. However, Bedi and other protesters were subsequently released on the same day in the evening. After 12 days of protests and many discussions between the government and the activists, Parliament passed a resolution to consider three points in drafting the Lokpal bill.