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Speeches

S. Oberoi: Address to Peace Summit 2023, Session VII-A

Address to Peace Summit 2023
May 2-5, 2023

 

Thank you, distinguished friends. A very good afternoon to all of you. I was originally told to speak on peace and media, but before the start of the session, Thomas informed me to speak on business.

Friends, I wear two different hats. One is being a religious and spiritual leader in our Sikh community, representing the Sikh faith in the Western hemisphere as an ambassador of the Sikh religion. The second hat I have worn since I have been in the United States for over 45 years. In our organization, we have, if you will, two different divisions or departments. One is for profit and the other is nonprofit. I will share with you from my personal experience and involvement in them. Whatever money or profit we make, we spend all of it on a nonprofit.

Some of you who are from the United States might be familiar with an organic tea called Yogi Tea. That is our organization. We manufacture it in the U.S.; it is the largest organic natural tea [brand] in the United States. We have a manufacturing plant in Eugene, Oregon.

The second aspect of our for-profit organization is a private security company called Akal Security, formed over 25 years ago. It provides private security services to government installations, primarily those of the U.S. government, including the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force.

We also provide security to many U.S. government installations all around the world, including embassies. After 9/11, most of the tier one security came in the hands of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) or the government. The first line of securities is the government. The second is private companies like us. We have an employee base of over 15,000 people generating a revenue of over $3 billion, so I am very familiar with the work ethic in our company.

Time is limited, so I will speak on the work ethic we practice. Being a Sikh, I follow the Sikh teachings of my gurus. Guru Nanak, who was the founder of our Sikh faith, emphasized ethical earning. In fact, one of the pillars of our Sikh faith is kirth kamai, honest living. Live or earn by the sweat of your brow. He preached by his example when he traveled.  Over half of his life, he traveled to faraway places, bringing the message of universal peace, happiness and harmonious life, but more importantly, ethical earnings.

There are many stories, but I will share one very short story with you. During one of his travels, he was invited by the villagers. One of the richest businessmen in that village whose name was Malik Bhago prepared a big feast for Guru Nanak.

Guru Nanak was also invited by a very humble businessman whose name was Bhai Lalo. He preferred to have the meal of the simple businessman because his meal represented ethical and honest labor, and rejected the meal from the rich businessman. Guru Nanak believed in being ethical and truthful, being honorable and the dignity of labor and workforce.

We also practice that whatever our profits are, most, 90%, of those, after going to pay employees and the overhead, goes to peace-building and spiritual and religious aspects. As you may have seen all around the world, our Sikh faith followers volunteer their time, money and efforts, and are the most generous in helping other societies and communities. That is why whenever there are any natural calamities or disasters in the world, after the first responders, you will see Sikhs serving hot meals and providing medicine and healthcare.

I am very delighted to be here. I came all the way from Los Angeles, California, representing my Sikh brother, Dr. SP Singh Oberoi from Dubai, who we are very proud of because he spends 98 % of his profits on charitable clinics, medical care, dialysis centers and blood work all over India. I am also glad to be here with Dr. Surinder Gill, who lives in Washington, D.C. All three of us are representing the Sikh faith. I thank UPF, Thomas McDevitt and all of the UPF team for giving us an opportunity to share some of our thoughts from the Sikh perspective.

 

 


To go to the Peace Summit 2023 Schedule page, click here.