Surjit Babra: ‘kindness transcends his business goals’
2008 was a memorable year for businessman and philanthropist Surjit Babra.
The chairman of the Skylink Travel Group received an Excellence Award from the NRI (Non-Resident Indian) Institute at a presentation ceremony in London attended by 400 people.
The event is held each year to honour people of Indian origin for outstanding achievements and excellence in their endeavours.
As SkyLink chairman, Mr Babra, a Sikh born in Punjab, has not only provided leadership for global growth of his business, he has ensured it has an internal support system which responds philanthropically to the special needs of people around the world.
The company, which sells air tickets to travel professionals, has provided support for people in dire circumstances on five continents over the years.
Humanitarian missions include SkyLink Aviation airlifting 100 UN workers and their families out of danger and delivering medication to victims of natural disasters, including the Indian Ocean Tsunami.
Charitable works include Surjit Babra’s special assistance in helping the Sikh community to bring 149 new scrolls from the Golden Temple in Amritsar to Toronto to replace tattered Holy Scriptures. Skylink’s international headquarters is located in Toronto.
The sacred mission was accomplished by SkyLink Aviation airlifting the holy books, each occupying its own linen-covered seat in the aircraft. Mr Babra accompanied the scrolls on the flight to realise his dream of serving his faith at the highest level.
Syndicated radio show travel expert Stephanie Abrams, who has known Surjit Babra for almost two decades, said: “His warmth, sincerity, and kindness transcend his business goals.”
The guest list of the UK Chapter of the NRI Institute, which organised the event, included such prestigious individuals as Lord Swraj Paul, Lord Karan Bilimoria, Minister Parmjit Dhanda MP, Minister Liam Byrne MP and Keith Vaz MP.
The ceremony at the Radisson SAS Portman Hotel was sponsored by one of the oldest legal firms in the UK, Gullands Solicitors.
In 2006, Mr Babra was also honoured with an Award of Merit by B’nai Brith of Canada, the Jewish advocacy and community volunteer service organisation, along with Skylink co-founder, company president Walter Arbib, a Tunisian-born Jew.
Special presentations were made by Italy’s Consul General Emanuele Punzo and Indian High Commissioner to Canada, Her Excellency Shyamala Cowsik.
Examples supporting the award included:
2004: Arbib brought together the Jewish and Italian communities of Toronto to honor Giogio Perlasca, an Italian Holocaust hero who saved more than 5,000 Hungarian Jews. The event raised $350,000 for Jewish and Italian charities.
2005: SkyLink transported to its Ethiopian homeland the ancient 30-metre tall obelisk which Mussolini’s troops took to Rome in 1936. Mr Arbib encouraged governments in possession of stolen works of art to follow Italy’s lead in returning the works to their rightful homelands.
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