Person of the year 2015
Dr. Kiran Bedi
Politician, Retired Indian Police Service (IPS) Officer
Dr. Kiran Bedi (born 9 June 1949) is an Indian politician, social activist and a retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officer. She joined India’s police service in 1972 and became the first woman officer in the IPS. She held the post of Director General at the Bureau of Police Research and Development before she voluntarily retired from the IPS in December 2007 at the age of 58. She acted in popular TV series “Aap Ki Kachehri” as a host and judge, which is based on real-life disputes and provides a platform for settling disputes between consenting parties. She was one of the key members of India Against Corruption mass movement during the summer and autumn of 2011. In November 2011, she became a target of police investigation for criminal conspiracy and breach of trust, but those charges were dropped after an investigation. She has founded two NGOs in India: ‘Navjyoti Delhi Police Foundation’ for welfare and preventative policing in 1988 which was later renamed as the Navjyoti India Foundation in 2007, and the India Vision Foundation for prison reformation, drug abuse prevention and child welfare in 1994. She was awarded Ramon Magsaysay award in 1994 for Government service.
Kiran Bedi was born in Amritsar, Punjab, India. She was awarded a BA degree by the Government College for Women, Amritsar in 1968. She then earned a Master’s degree in Social Science from Punjab University, Chandigarh, graduating top of her class in 1970. She later obtained Bachelor of Laws in 1988 from 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 topic 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 wrote in 1973 that she had joined the police service “because of her urge to be outstanding”. Her assignments included New Delhi traffic postings, Deputy Inspector General of Police in Mizoram, Advisor to the Lieutenant Governor of Chandigarh, Director General of Narcotics Control Bureau, Civilian Police Advisor for United Nations peacekeeping operations. For her work with the UN, she was awarded the United Nations medal. She is popularly referred to as Crane Bedi for towing the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s car for a parking violation. She influenced several decisions of the Indian Police Service, particularly in the areas of narcotics control, traffic management and VIP security. During her stint as the Inspector General of Prisons, in Tihar Jail (Delhi) (1993–1995), she instituted a number of reforms in the management of the prison, and initiated a number of measures such as detoxification programs, Art of Living Foundation prison courses, yoga, vipassana meditation, Murat redressing of complaints by prisoners and literacy programs. Her initiatives for the practice of Vipassana meditation were documented in the film Doing time, Doing Vipassana. For this she won the 1994 Ramon Magsaysay Award, and the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship. She was last 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 wish 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 duties as Director General of the Bureau of Police Research and Development.