Interview with Dr. Kiran Bedi

 

Avant-Garde

Dr. Kiran Bedi shares with Marie Banu and Latha Suresh her views about NGOS and the role of corporate houses in bringing about social change.

Dr. Kiran Bedi IPS, India’s first and highest ranking woman officer joined the Indian Police Service in 1972. Her experience and expertise include more than 35 years of tough, innovative, and welfare policing. She has worked with the United Nations as the Police Advisor to the Secretary General, Department of Peace Keeping Operations. She represented India at the United Nations, and in International forums on crime prevention, drug abuse, police and prison reforms and women’s issues. She has also been a National and an Asian Tennis champion.

Recipient of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award (also called the Asian Nobel Prize), and several other decorations, Dr. Kiran Bedi is an author of several books, anchors radio and television shows, and is a columnist with leading newspapers and magazines. She is a sought after speaker on social, professional, and leadership issues. She is the founder of two NGOs—Navjyoti and India Vision Foundation.

Navjyoti India Foundation was established in 1988 as the brain child of Dr. Kiran Bedi. The organization was set up with the idea of promoting welfare policing, the outcome of which was the drug de-addiction program. Since its inception, Navjyoti India Foundation has made significant contributions in areas like education, women empowerment, family counseling, rural and urban development, health, HIV/AIDS, and environment as well.

India Vision Foundation was born with the receipt of the Ramon Magsaysay Award by Dr Kiran Bedi in 1994. It began its work inside the prison, by setting up a Bread Making Unit within the Prison, for the welfare of the inmates. A Plant Nursery was also set up where rare saplings were grown and marketed outside. The profits earned from these activities went to the Prisoner's Welfare Fund.

Dr. Kiran Bedi has been voted as India's most admired woman and fifth amongst all Indians.

In an exclusive interview, Dr. Kiran Bedi shares with Marie Banu and Latha Suresh her views about NGOS and the role of corporate houses in bringing about social change.

You were the first woman to join the Indian Police Service. What made you different?

Parenting was great. I think it was my upbringing, home environment and school quality. Well, many friends had the same school, but my home was different.

 

Women all over the world admire you. Who has been your role model?

My role model has been my parents. They were the best and remain the best.

 

Which of these roles would you like to be identified with: IPS officer, visionary, social worker, role model?

With all! Which is no less important? You can’t deny it. People identify me with my project. Some identify me with the prisoner education project while some identify me with the galli school project, because they have met me only there and do not know about the other programs that I am engaged in. It varies from person to person. Some identify me for having written a book, and some identify me with a television channel. So, it varies.

 

Which are the areas youthink NGOs and Police could work together?

Most importantly what an NGO could do is to work with families of policemen. I am already working with the police department by providing computer education to the families of policemen. We already have 2500 children of policemen who have been educated and made e-literate. We opened scores of centers of computer education in the police lines. Others NGOS could not enter here. Who else can enter a police line? We thought we could, and so partnered with Vedanta (Sterlite Foundation) to provide computer education. While India Vision Foundation provided access and linkage, Vedanta provided the computers.

 

Do you think NGOs are effective in their mission?

They are as effective as they are resourced—both skilled and resourced. They are resourced with leadership, the right kind of people, and have got the way with all. They can be very effective. Our NGO is effective because all my project heads are brilliant. They are youthful, energetic, passionate, missionary, and are secure inside. These are their qualities, and that is why they enjoy trust. They just have to open our mouth to get people on their side.

 

Your advice for our corporate readers?

Corporates must be the biggest givers. They are not generators but givers. Because, givers will become generators. It is in our interest of being consumers, because it is they who create better consumers. A better consumer means better purchasing power, and better purchasing power means better business for corporates.

Already, India is on GDP of this kind, because we are a major market ourselves. In fact, India survived because it is a market by itself. We still have half of India waiting to become another market. By 2030 we would have added another 30 to 40 million people and would be almost one and a half billion by then. That means, India would have generated much more consumers, and we are creating another wealth of youth consumers.

It is in the interest of every corporate to strengthen and reach out to the youth. Because, if they take them out of the poverty line and make then educated and enabled, they would be the biggest consumer and a quality consumer. That’s when they consume what the corporate produce. So, it is in our interest. It is a very positive cycle— a corporate creates a consumer through corporate social responsibility, and thus a consumer will demand for a corporate. It is a two way process.