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Chairman of Al Dobowi Group Dr. Surender Singh Kandhari has dedicated his life to the service of human beings and believes that true success and salvation comes through honesty and integrity

By Muhammad Ali Bandial

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Published: Mon 21 Feb 2022, 2:18 PM

In our quest for worldly pleasures, we tend not to realise that simplicity is the sole essence of happiness. In our endeavour to acquire and expect more from life, we have distanced ourselves from lighter moments of life that are simple, meaningful and can enable us to face the greatest of challenges and overcome them as well.

By worldly standards, Dr. Surender Singh Kandhari is a successful businessman. The Chairman of the Al Dobowi Group, among many other accolades and prestigious positions that he holds, Dr. Kandhari is many things, amalgamated into a positive person who exudes optimism and genuine warmth. But the thing that he takes pride in is his strong hold on his roots and the principles distilled into him over time.

He says that he feels very blessed to be born in a family that believes in servitude to humanity. Being a favourite of his grandfather gave him access to the lofty morals and ideals of the matriarch who instilled in him, from a very early age, the ethos of caring for the fellow man and bringing a smile to the lips of the downtrodden and distressed.

The willpower, strength and fortitude that enabled him to stand firm in his ideals and not to be swayed or dismayed by the vicissitudes of life come from the grounded and spiritualistic teachings he got from his family from a very early age. Dr. Kandhari said that he has always held the role model of his grandfather as a beacon, guiding him towards the path of helping people through kindness and support. The word he uses is Sewa, which translates to service and that is how Dr. Kandhari views his multitude of philanthropic activities as a service and not as something to boost up his image or to gain fame. He often quotes his grandfather’s and elders who taught him the right path, which was to serve humanity, not through money but by feeding them and lending a helping hand, lifting them up from their sorrows.

What life has taught

Dr. Kandhari is a student in the journey of life, saying that he has learned a lot of lessons that have stood him in good stead and made him the man he is today. As the only educated tyre dealer in Andhra Pradesh, he said that he never let his education or ego get in the way of his professional dealings. He said that he got this attitude from his father who told him not to expect his degree to earn money for him. Rather, he should remove all vanity and pursue his goals with wholeheartedness and sincerity. Looking back at his early days, he recalled that many people in the business laughed at him and ridiculed him when he tried to incorporate his education lessons and principles into the business. But he persisted and his success today speaks for itself. He proudly says that in his business as in real life, he always put the principle of Sewa over business profit and that translated into goodwill and genuine relations that turned into lifelong loyalties that have remained with him through thick and thin.

Speaking about the pandemic, Dr. Kandhari said that in light of the situation, he converted the Gurdwara into a community centre, feeding and serving all blue-collared people in the labour camps, taking 150, 000 kg worth of food supplies to the needy. Furthermore, he also facilitated those stranded, by arranging 15 chartered flights on which people were able to fly back to their families, completely free of cost. Dr. Kandhari also supplied oxygen concentrators by buying them from China and giving them to India to serve the sick. The rationale behind all these actions remained the same; to try and help in saving lives, irrespective of caste or kin. He calls servitude to the people, his one and only true calling in life.

Inspiring role models

On the subject of role models, Dr. Kandhari is quick to talk about his first mentor, his grandfather Chaudhary Atma Singh as his role model, the one who put him on the track of doing Sewa. Another person he looked up to was the late Rahul Bajaj of Bajaj Autos, who instilled in him the value of being punctual and told him to never cheat your customers or your associated business partners. The values taught by him have stayed with Dr. Kandhari throughout his journey in life. Another individual who made an impression on him is Raghunath Rai Gandhi, the director of Ceat tyres, who advised him to make fruitful synergies with his dealers which would lead to lifelong bonds of loyalty. It is a testament to Dr. Kandhari’s unwavering faith in these principles which has seen him enjoy a loyal base over 46 years of him doing business in the UAE. He proudly says that today he has dealers who took over from their parents and have never questioned their relationship with Al Dobowi Group. So, the lesson, Dr. Kandhari says, is that you earn loyalty by sincerity and doing Sewa. And that is why he holds honesty as a value that is dearest to him. “Never cheat your customer, or your own principles” he said, adding that he has instilled the mantra into every part of his life and it has never failed to bring him success and prosperity. Without sincerity and integrity, you might succeed for a short term but in the end, you will be at a loss.

In quest to serve humanity

Empathy is a quality that seems to pour out of Dr. Kandhari as he deeply feels the pain and sorrow of his fellow man and is quick to take up a cause for those who lack a voice. In fact, it is the one predicament that he finds most distressing: the pain and suffering of human beings. To compensate the pain, the lesson that has helped Dr. Kandhari all his life has been in Sewa. He feels that service to even one is service to all of humanity.

Looking towards the younger generation that is coming up, Dr. Kandhari has one essential advice for them; believe in their skills, in their abilities and to visualise success. His mantra is to wake up daily, look in the mirror and tell yourself that you’re the best. Understand yourself and then you can teach others.

In his third and latest book, Dr. Kandhari extols the virtues of looking inward for spirituality and finding the meaning of life

Dr. Kandhari does not consider himself an author just for the sake of putting words on paper. He believes that he is serving the people by serving knowledge to them. In fact, he said that he was compelled into writing the first book by his wife who coaxed him into sharing his life lessons with the world. The second book on tolerance was a subject close to his heart and one that he felt was very current. Warming up to the subject, Dr. Kandhari said that his most recent book is on spirituality which again, is very important in today’s day and age when people are trying to be over-smart and deceiving others. There has to be some sort of a norm that puts people back on the right path.

In the upcoming book to be launched shortly, both in Arabic and English version, Dr. Kandhari chooses simple every day facts which are an eye-opener in terms of how we conduct ourselves to be able to move to a level of better and meaningful co-existence. Laugher has no tax, take time out to communicate with your loved ones, mobile phones are a need and they should not rule you.

There is a very apt allegory in the beginning of his third book, titled ‘One: The spiritual search’ in which a hunter finds himself face to face with a charging lion on a barren, empty stretch of ground. Just at the last moment, he climbs up a tree and out of danger. Now, where did the tree suddenly appear from in such a barren path, one might ask. That, in essence, is the lesson that Dr. Kandhari wishes to drive home through the book. For, the tree, is the is salvation that one can find through spirituality and servitude of mankind, which will help him escape or tame the lion which is always chasing us. How you manage to change the lion and live a good life lies in your hands. The decision was yours all along.

The book talks about living practically and also do service to humanity because that is how one serves God. “Being Godly is good, but bringing godliness in you is much more important,” said Dr. Kandhari. He added that today most of us have lost the essence of actions and deeds and only do superficial actions that hold no meaning. People have forgotten the meaning of contentment and that is the root cause of all the unhappiness in the world as people lose sight of their boundaries and aspire for things that they lack. This has led to envy and jealousy. The solution lies in overcoming the mind and finding satisfaction in what one already has.

“The best attitude is gratitude,” said Dr. Kandhari, adding that every morning waking up with a sense of elation at being alive and having a chance to live healthy and grateful is the right way.

It’s never too late to be that ‘ONE’ individual who could create a feeling, a oneness among the individuals, oneness towards peace, oneness towards tolerance, oneness towards gratitude, oneness towards simplicity for a better tomorrow that we would want to entrust our future generations with so that human values do not become endangered and extinct.

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