By Bipin Sharma-
Through his international charitable trust named “Sarbat Da Bhala” which means “Welfare of All, Dubai based Indian businessman Dr SPS Oberoi has accomplished countless humanitarian missions since the last three decades. Over the years, Philanthropy has become a way of life for him. Oberoi shot to fame when he gave the blood money for saving the lives of 17 Indian youths that had been handed the death sentence by a Sharjah civil court for murdering a Pakistan based man some years ago. Ever since, he has been instrumental in saving many lives from the gallows. His noble deeds have earned him the sobriquet “Saviour Singh”, and he is regarded as a Divine Emissary. He was awarded the world’s first ever Causa Grand PhD in Philanthropy by the International University of Fundamental Studies (Russia). The Causa Grand PhD in Philanthropy was preceded by another big honour when Prince Marcello, the Prince of Consular Corps of the Principality of Seborga in an official ceremony chose him as their Honorary Consul General for Republic of India. With this honour, Dr Oberoi became the first Sikh to represent a European Country in India.
The turning point that led him towards Philanthropic activities in a major way was the hapless plight of the poor villagers based out of Punjab who could not afford the cost of medicines or education for their children.
Albeit he had a humble beginning when he set afoot in Dubai, it was his vision and sheer hard struggle that saw him set up the Apex Group of Companies. After having launched Sarbat Da Bhala (SDB) offices in all districts of Punjab, Sarsa in Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir (Baramulla and Srinagar), 12 offices in Europe, Asia, USA and Canada, Oberoi undertook remarkable relief work in earthquake ravaged Nepal.
Sometime ago, Dr Oberoi’s ‘Sarbat Da Bhala’ Trust was instrumental in getting to India the body of the deceased Amarjit Singh, a death row convict who died of a heart attack in Dubai’s Al-Aweer jail. The Trust not only made arrangements for the body to be flown to his native village Bhamboi in Gurdaspur district, but also aided in getting the last rites performed in his native village. Since Amarjit’s father Gurcharan was unable in getting his son’s body back, the timely intervention of Dr Oberoi enabled the family to have a last glimpse of Amarjit before the last rituals. Incidentally, the SDB Trust has so far been instrumental in bringing back more than 43 bodies of Indians who died in the Gulf.
Shares Dr Oberoi, “Sarbat Da Bhala” Trust has been working for the last many years towards the rehabilitation of widows, the destitute, the orphans, the handicapped, the EWS strata of the society, the blind organizations. Besides, the Trust has been lending pivotal support to the different drug de-addiction centres in Punjab, the financially deprived schools, colleges and vocational institutions through the monthly pension schemes. The Trust has also provided infrastructural support to various prisons of Punjab and installed water purifiers in many prisons in India to ensure safe drinking water for the inmates. We have also constructed a School for Special Needs Children near Patiala that caters to around 200 students. Additionally, a hostel has been constructed for 100 ‘special needs’ students besides the hostel accommodation for 300 deaf and dumb boys and girls students on the one acre land purchased by our Trust in Patiala. I began my philanthropic journey with a paltry salary of Rs 350. Philanthropy needs to be done sans any prejudice of caste, creed or religion, and Sarbat Da Bhala Trust has never shown discrimination based on these above mentioned factors. Be it the rehabilitation of widows, the destitute and the orphans, or the handicapped, we have been providing timely help and support. We have organized and arranged more than 19,000 marriages of Sikh, Hindu and Muslim girls. SDB has adopted 40 Nepali orphan children, and constructed a special Centre for about 100 children in Kathmandu, Nepal which will take care of their education, lodging and boarding. SDB has been providing monthly financial support to 2500 children from slum areas, and taking care of their education as well as the major meals. I feel really blessed when people say that I have been able to make a radical change to their lives even while being physically so far away from them. If success and prosperity in my professional career gave me joy and happiness, dedicating a life for the cause of the under privileged segments, and the terminally ill persons has made my life truly worthwhile.”
President of the Delhi Chapter of Sarbat Da Bhala, Kanwarjeet Singh Kochhar adds, “Dr Oberoi has been our torchbearer all these years who has done humanity proud with his selfless philanthropic activities. Sarbat Da Bhala Trust sent huge relief materials that included Blankets, Sweaters, jackets, water, eating goods and medicines with a Doctor’s team to the aid of Flood Ravaged victims of Kashmir. The Trust has sponsored more than 1200 students for their Higher Education such as Medical, Engineering, Teaching, Civil Services, Doctorate, B.Tech, M. Tech etc. Besides, it has sponsored about 400 students for their Primary Education. Under the dynamic leadership of Dr Oberoi, numerous road safety campaigns have been initiated in different parts of the country. The unique aspect about the campaigns being the free distribution of ‘reflector stickers’ that help in preventing accidents caused due to foggy weather conditions.”