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Khuda Buksh: The Pioneer Life Insurance in Bangladesh is a historical encounter of the life and works of Khuda Buksh, the most important person behind the success of insurance industry in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. Written by Obaidur Rahim, his son, the biography outlines the qualities of Khuda Buksh and the powerful movement he led that ultimately caused the insurance industry to thrive, as it does today. Continue reading for the blurb and Nerdection’s take on the book.

About Khuda Buksh: The Pioneer Life Insurance in Bangladesh

The altogether evolved state of life insurance firms in Bangladesh and Pakistan is the result of the unprecedented contributions of Khuda Buksh, a highly motivated Bengali national.

Throughout his life, Khuda Buksh’s infallible determination and strength of character helped level up an industry, for which the hopes of survival were low to almost nonexistent. The locals of the region were highly dubious of the insurance firms, believing in all kinds of ridiculous notions about insurance ‘being the harbinger of death or disease’. Moreover, the beliefs of Muslims, (who happened to be the prime residents of the two countries, namely Pakistan and Bangladesh) also hindered them to avail the benefits of life insurance, considering it to be a diversion from the ‘true path’.

However, none of this moved Khuda Buksh from the journey he had meticulously mapped out for himself; namely, to spread the word of life insurance among his people. Starting his illustrious career as a mere insurance salesman, he quickly grew in both experience and rank. For Khuda Buksh, rooted as he was in humility and humanitarianism, life insurance was a lot more than a career to make money and settle merrily; for him, life insurance was a goal, a vision he had in mind. Spreading the word among the many rich and poor families of the then West (now Pakistan) and East (now Bangladesh) Pakistan, he was the foremost influence in the prosperity of the native insurance firms, the most notable of which was EFU (Eastern Federal Union) at that time, in which he had been a member for many years.

While Khuda Buksh helped advance the insurance industry steadily by employing and training resolute workers, unfortunate political conflicts between the two states of Pakistan commenced. This marked a new stage in the life of Khuda Buksh, who had to leave his life’s work, resigning from EFU and putting forward a plan for a new Insurance company. Various hurdles like public riots and nationalization of all insurance companies ensued, but the insurance industry progressed, albeit a little slowly.

Nevertheless, Khuda Buksh is a true pioneer in the field of life insurance who managed to skyrocket the profits of the industry he put his efforts into, positively affecting thousands of lives in the process.

My take on Khuda Buksh: The Pioneer Life Insurance in Bangladesh

As a resident of the same region Khuda Buksh had toiled in, I’m sympathetic to his efforts as a pioneer of life insurance.

Khuda Buksh’s life events are compiled by his son, Obaidur, through a variety of sources. Quotations are added from many notable persons including Buksh’s peers and his relatives. There are newspaper entries, letters and citations from other books and memoirs too. As such, Khuda Buksh: The Pioneer Life Insurance in Bangladesh can be used as a credible source for opinion papers, research analyses and material for textbooks.

The word choice used in Khuda Buksh: The Pioneer Life Insurance in Bangladesh is factual, befitting a historical documentary/biography, but resonates easily with the reader. I must say this is as much a historical documentary as it is a biography since the book provides circumstantial encounters of the economic as well as political events happening in that era.

Khuda Buksh: The Pioneer Life Insurance in Bangladesh begins with exploring the roots of Khuda Buksh, his childhood and his education. Next, Obaidur sheds light on some of the soft skills of his father, among which I think his natural social grace is what enabled him the most to excel in his public dealings. He was an unparalleled living force; As an insurance salesman at the dawn of his career, he had persuasion skills through which he sold policies in a matter of a few words or clever comebacks. He had endurance so great that neither hesitations nor insults from his clientele were enough to dampen his spirits. Quite the contrary, he used to take that as a challenge and achieve what many others failed to do.

Talking of Khuda Buksh, the man was a true workaholic, choosing a field only a few chose at that time due to stereotypical cultural obstacles, and totally revamped it. Khuda Buksh transformed the life Insurance industry into something noble; a path through which he served his fellow beings, his peers and the general public of not only the East, but the West Pakistan too.

Pondering on the fact that whether Khuda Buksh was a workaholic more than he was a humanitarian (for since his childhood, he put great efforts into helping anybody in need of it), I came upon the assumption that he was in fact, an altruistic and a benefactor who assuaged other’s financial problems in the way he was most familiar with, insurance and using his own time and money to help people out.

“What a lovely man he was… so dedicated. The man was totally and completely devoted to life insurance. Anytime of the day or night, anytime from the morning till evening, anytime in the house or the office, the man did not talk anything about but life insurance. He was totally committed to his profession. A very fantastic man. I must say.”

Says Dr. Tajuddin, in The EFU Saga by Wolfram W. Karnowski

 

Another thing that surprises me is that despite this being a biography of his own father and an encounter of his own country, Obaidur is objective in his narrative. He does not hide or distort facts to soften the real picture, and that is what I appreciate the most in any chronicle of history.

Obaidur has also chronologically related the advent of the insurance industry with the political incidents happening in the regions. Unfortunate though it is that the clashes of a political nature (between East and West Pakistan) affect an industry entitled to benefit the public, I , nonetheless, found the mention to be relevant to the book.

Recommendation

Lastly, I’d like to suggest this book to history, insurance and international relations academia, primarily of the South-Asian region. It is also an extremely insightful book for biography lovers.

 

“Death has taken him away, but his inspiration remains. Such inspiration would be the life-blood of the future generation.”

A tribute to Khuda Buksh, from ‘Mir Musharraf’ in the book

 

About The Author Of Khuda Buksh: The Pioneer Life Insurance in Bangladesh

Muhammad Obaidur Rahim is a retired engineer whose passion for research led him to extensively investigate his late father’s role in life insurance development in the Indo-Pak subcontinent a quarter-century after his death. His research work led him to translate and compile the Memoirs of a Life Insurance Icon: Khuda Buksh. The book received the Reviewer’s Choice Award in 2011 from Global Asia. Muhammad holds a master’s degree in engineering (mining) from West Virginia University. A former lead engineer in a research and development organization in the United States government, he devoted more than three decades to maintenance engineering, system design, and development and configuration management. Now, as managing director of the Khuda Buksh Memorial Foundation, he is spearheading a project to build a school library in the rural village in Bangladesh where his father grew up. Muhammad lives in Davenport, Iowa, where he and his wife settled and raised their family after immigrating to the United States in 1977.
He enjoys reading, photography, traveling, walking along the Mississippi River, and watching professional football and tennis. He was born in Kolkata, India, and was raised in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

 

 

 

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