D. R. Karthikeyan was born to an agricultural family in a small village called Devarayapuram in Coimbatore District, Tamil Nadu, India. He obtained a B.Sc. degree in Chemistry and Agriculture from the Annamalai University. He worked in the field of agriculture in the ancestral farm of his native village for a year. He also obtained a Bachelor of Law degree from the Law College, Madras and was enrolled as an Advocate in the Bar Council of Madras.
After passing the Combined Competitive Examinations for Senior Civil Services, he joined the Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1964. Mr. Karthikeyan went through extensive training in that field which included being trained at the National Police Academy in Mt. Abu. He also served in a number of important positions - Deputy Commissioner of Police, Law and Order, Bangalore; Deputy Inspector General of Police, Karnataka State Intelligence Department; Head of Karnataka State Police Academy; Inspector General of Police, Central Reserve, Police Force (CRPF), Southern Sector at Hyderabad. The investigative skill and the leadership and dedication demonstrated by Mr. Karthikeyan was highly appreciated and placed on record by the full Bench of the Supreme Court of India.Mr. Karthikeyan was First Secretary in the Embassy of India, Moscow, Russia from 1974-1977. He was stationed in Sydney Australia from 1985 to 1989, promoting Indian exports to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.
Mr. Karthikeyan served as the Chief Bureau of the Investigation Team of the Central Bureau of Investigation to investigate the tragic assassination of Prime Minister Mr. Rajiv Gandhi. At the invitation of INTERPOL, France, he made an audiovisual presentation of the investigation before an assembly of top police officers, who commended Mr Karthikeyan for the model investigation.
Mr. Karthikeyan led a group of "Yatris" (pilgrims) on a month-long trekking to Kailash-Manasarovar, the holiest of holy places for Hindus, Buddhists and Jains in Tibet-China. He also visited Jerusalem, the holiest city for Christians and Jews and the second holiest place for Muslims. He travels widely and addresses gatherings in educational institutions, professional gatherings, police and other training academies, and public functions where he speaks on socially relevant subjects such as values, human rights, leadership, crisis management and investigation. Mr. Karthikeyan presently holds the position of Director General, National Human Rights Commission, India.
Years in Service