Rikhi, born in 1963, to Mr. Kartar Singh Thakral and Madam Narinder Kaur Thakral and spent his childhood days in Thailand. He spent most of his time in the local Sikh temple and religious teachings became deeply imbued in him. He also read widely, and was particularly inspired by three great personalities:
- The King of Siam for his sincere concern for his people
- Mother Theresa, for touching so many lives
- His parents
He joined Thakral Group (the Family business) at the age of 16. The Group started their business in Thailand in 1905 and presently has its headquarters in Singapore. It is well diversified into trading, distribution and manufacturing, real estate, property development and hotels and its product portfolio covers watches, consumer electronics, in over 30 countries. The Group employs more than 14,000 People.
Rikhi is an Executive Director of the Thakral Group and oversees the property portfolio of the Group in Singapore and Australia as well as the timepieces business in Indo-China.
Being from a strong Sikh family and living in a Buddhist society, Rikhi naturally cultivated the habit of setting aside a percentage of his income to do God’s work.
This philanthropic tendency was deeply strengthened during his business trips in some of the Asian countries where he witnessed many sorry sights. He was distraught to discover that many disabled people had been mutilated on purpose in order to gain sympathy. It was actually an orchestrated practice in which children were bought by gangs, who forced boys to beg for money and sold girls into prostitution.
Rikhi decided he needed to make a difference, however small, for those less fortunate than himself. He began volunteering and helping in all sorts of charitable projects and organizations, and made contributions to individuals from all walks of life. Gradually he realized that focused and direct efforts achieve the best humanitarian results.
Pondering on how to go forward, Rikhi approached his father Mr Kartar Singh Thakral, who guided him that a company and ultimately a Trust or Foundation will be the best structure. Mr Kartar Singh Thakral suggested the name “In-Sewa”, which means God’s work. Thus, In-Sewa Limited was formed and the patriarchs are Mr Kartar Singh Thakral and Rikhi.
In-Sewa helped to formalise the vision, create discipline and structure to sustain the focus and direct efforts for years to come. In-Sewa decided to focus the resources on children. Outside of their homes, the most important environment of the children is the school. Therefore, in addition to helping disadvantaged children meet their basic needs, such as food and drinking water, In-Sewa also resolved to help meet their educational needs, including school buildings, proper seats and tables for classrooms, toilets for sanitation, and sports equipment for children’s enjoyment and physical health.
With the efforts and contributions that Rikhi has been dedicating to society to make the difference, it is not surprising that many letters of appreciation, certificates of honour and prestigious awards have been accorded.
In July 2004, he was honored with a PhD in Humanity for God’s work done in Indo-China by the University of Cambodia. “I am honored to be the 2nd recipient, the first one being awarded to HE Samdech Hun Sen of Cambodia.”
In July 2008, he received ‘The Badge of Ho Chi Minh City’ – an honorary Citizenship award, in recognition of support towards the physically and mentally challenged children of Vietnam over the past 20 years and also the Certificate of Merit by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs of Vietnam (MOLISA).
It is also with the greatest privilege and honour for him to be conferred with the GRAND CROSS OF THE ROYAL ORDER OF MONISARAPHON, (Royal Decree signed by His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni / awarded by H.E. Samdech Hun Sen) for support to Cambodia’s Human Resource and Intellectual Development on 20th Nov 2008.
He was also honoured with the Cross of Development Medal (Laos) on 23rd Nov 2009 for his invaluable support to various school and children in Laos. In a simple yet formal ceremony on 17th Feb 2010, the Vientiane Mayor Mr. Sombath Yialiher, on behalf of the government of Laos, presented the award to Mr Thakral.