Born on June 9, 1949 in Punjab, Amritsar to parents Prakash Peshawaria and Prem Peshawaria, Kiran Bedi attended the Sacred Heart Convent School where she participated in the national Cadet Corps (NCC). An interest in tennis, alike her made her the winner of the junior national Lawn Tennis Championship in 1966, the Asian Lawn Tennis Championship in 1972 and the All India Interstate Women’s lawn tennis Championship in 1976.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English (Hons.) from the Government College for Women in 1968 and then a Master’s degree in Political Science from Punjab University, Chandigarh and Bachelor of Laws in 1988 from Faculty of law, University of Delhi. In 1993, she obtained a Ph.D. in social science from IIT, Delhi. She continued her education even after her marriage with Brij Bedi in 1972.
Her daughter Saina was born in 1975 and following her mother’s footsteps, she is also involved in social service. Kiran Bedi began her career as a lecturer in Political Science at the Khalsa College for Women, Amritsar. And in july 1972 she created history by becoming the first woman to join Indian Police Service.
Serving in difficult assignments ranging from New Delhi traffic postings, Deputy Inspector General of Police, 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 Peace keeping operations, she was awarded a UN medal.
Known by the name ‘Crane Bedi’ for towing Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s car for parking violation, she showed her dedication to her profession. During her period as the Inspector General of Prisons, in Tihar Jail, she made a number of reforms in the management of the prison.
Some of the programs that she initiated include detoxification programs, Art of Living Foundation Prison Courses, Yoga, Vipassana meditation, Murat redressing of complaints by prisoners and literacy programs and she won the 1994 Ramon Magsaysay Award and the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship to write about her work in Tihar jail.
Her last appointment was of 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’. Her social acts include setting up of Navjyoti India Foundation (NIF) in 1987 along with 17 other police officers.
The foundation started with a de-addiction and rehabilitation initiative for drug addicts and now the work sphere of this organization has expanded to other issues like illiteracy and women empowerment. In 1994, she also set up India Vision Foundation to bring about police reforms, prison reforms, women empowerment and rural and community development.
Her organizations were awarded the ‘Serge Soitiroff Memorial Award’ for drug abuse prevention by the United Nations. This great lady is also a member of the India Against Corruption (IAC) along with Anna Hazaare and Arvind Kejriwal.