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Dr. Kiran BediDr. Kiran Bedi, India's first woman police officer, was posted as the Inspector General Prisons of Tihar - the world's largest prison, in terms of population (housing nearly 10, 000 inmates at a time), during 1993 - 95. She is the first woman officer in the world to run a male prison of such a magnitude.

As the Inspector General Prisons of Tihar, Dr. Kiran Bedi, came face to face with pain and agony writ large on the faces of the inmates. She soon realized that the tough and stern look on their faces was a mere faade. The more she interacted with the prisoners; she sensed how vulnerable they really were. She came to the conclusion that the prisoners were in jail, 'as punishment' and not 'for punishment'. She witnessed innocence captivated behind bars. There were also infants staying with their mothers in the female ward. In India, a child can stay with its mother, in prison, till the child reaches the age of five. They are equally imprisoned along with their mothers. Their little traumatic images kept haunting her. Something had to be done, not only while she could do it as the Inspector General, but also when she no longer retained the Post. Someone had to carry forward the reformation process within prison that she had initiated, when she was transferred to another posting. Her belief of saving the next victim had to continue.

India Vision Foundation was born with the receipt of the Ramon Magsaysay Award by Dr Kiran Bedi in the year 1994. The India Vision Foundation began its work inside the prison, by setting up a bread making unit within the Prison, for the welfare of the inmates. The profits earned went to the Prisoner's Welfare Fund. The India Vision Foundation also set up a Plant Nursery where rare saplings were grown and marketed outside. The proceeds again went to the welfare fund. The Foundation also made a video documentary on the life and reforms in Tihar Jail, with a view to promote the efforts of reformation and generation of community support.

Projects outside the prison began with providing education and rehabilitation to children of prisoners in its " Crime Home Children " project.

The Gali School project of the foundation in collaboration with Navjyoti, another Social Organisation, started by Dr. Bedi, which brings education to the doorsteps of those living in slums, to educate children by organising a class in the street itself, was also initiated for children who no longer could remain in prison.

In the rural village of Nayagaon, on the outskirts of Delhi, the foundation is running a Rural Development Project aimed at empowering the village community.

INDIA VISION FOUNDATION GOES INTERNATIONAL

The foundation's resource centers are now situated at Atlanta and San Francisco in the United States, Melbourne and Tasmania in Australia and at Port Louis, Mauritius.

PRISON REFORMS

In its endeavor to promote prison reforms, the foundation produced a CD ROM titled "It's Always Possible" which accompanies the book authored by Dr Kiran Bedi. The interactive CD ROM describes with aural and visual evidence, what existed, what evolved and what emerged with the beginning of the reforms in Tihar Prison. It has been distributed amongst the authorities in India and abroad, as an example of managing unmanageable situations with given resources.



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