The man behind insurance | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, August 28, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, August 28, 2009

The man behind insurance

Subrata Kumar Das appreciates a commemorative volume


Khuda Buksh Memorial Trust and Foundation, Dhanmondi, Dhaka, has done a great job through publishing a bilingual (Bangla and English) commemorative work on Khuda Buksh, the pioneer personality in the insurance arena of Bangladesh. The formidable volume with an appealing cover will surely help many get acquainted with this exemplary personality who will remain an unforgettable part of the history of insurance in these parts. And he did that at a time when few people in the Indian subcontinent had any interest in it.
Khuda Buksh was born on February 1, 1912 in Damodya, Shariatpur (erstwhile Faridpur). He passed his entrance (matriculation) examination from Shamacharan Edward Institution, in 1929. Later on, he completed Intermediate Examination from Islamia College (presently Moulana Azad College), Kolkata, India in 1931. In 1933 he got admitted to B.A. (Hons) in Presidency College, Kolkata. In December 1935 he joined Oriental Government Security Life Assurance Company Kolkata, India (OGSLA) as a life insurance agent. He was promoted to the position of Inspector of OGSLA in 1946. In 1952 Khuda Buksh left OGSLA and joined as Life Manager, Eastern Federal Union Insurance Company Limited (EFU), East Pakistan. As Life Manager, Khuda Buksh worked tirelessly to overcome ingrained religious and cultural prejudices against life insurance. His passion, devotion and unique sales strategies led him to train, motivate, and manage thousands of salesmen during his long career. He created a large number of field organizations from scratch and under his leadership life insurance flourished in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). During his overall tenure in East Pakistan, life insurance was synonymous with Khuda Buksh. He was subsequently promoted to Life Manager, Deputy General Manager and General Manager in 1960, 1963 and 1966 respectively of EFU Life department, Pakistan.
With the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent nation in 1971 a new era started. In 1972 all life insurance companies were nationalised in Bangladesh. Khuda Buksh was chosen as one of the directors of the Surma Jiban Bima Corporation. In 14 May 1973 Khuda Buksh was nominated Managing Director of Jiban Bima Corporation (JBC). However, he was relieved by the Bangladesh government from JBC in November 1973 following vehement trade union unrest. He died on 13 May 1974.
Along with his activities as an administrator, he published a good number of articles on insurance; its prospects and possibilities. His articles 'Selling Life Insurance Successfully - A Career' (1961), 'Life Insurance Selling - A Profession' (1965), 'Your Duty Onerous', 'Symposium of Life Insurance' (1967), 'A Reminiscence: When I look back' (1967), 'Amar Sritikatha' (1967) are some very significant writings from his pen.
All this information about Khuda Buksh is a treasure that the book provides. Excluding the first three formal sections called Mukhobondho (Forward), Bhumica (Introduction) and Kritojnata (Gracefulness), the main section is divided into five parts. The first one comprises interviews and reminiscences of people who are or were associated with insurance. In the second part we come across insurance personalities of Pakistan who have given interviews or written about Khuda Buksh. The same sort of writing but by people belonging to his friends' circle and those close to him are presented in the third part. In the fourth, we get some writings by Khuda Buksh himself and his directives to the people engaged in insurance. The speeches of Khuda Buksh along with his interviews, letters and others are neatly organised in the last, namely, the fifth part. The Mukhobondho of the books is by M. Harunur Rashid while the Bhumica has come from the pen of Sazzadur Rahman, on behalf on the editorial board.
There is no doubt that Khuda Buksh Smarak Grantha is a production on an iconic person who should not go into oblivion. The foundation has done a creditable job in bringing out the known and unknown facts about this personality three decades after his death. It might be worth mentioning here that another book, titled Khuda Buksh: An Icon of Life Insurance, is in the pipeline --- to be published through research by Obaidur Rahim, a member of the editorial board of the present book.
Subrata Kumar Das, a teacher and essayist, has set up a web site www.bangladeshinovels.com

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