Memoirs of a Life Insurance Icon: Khuda Buksh
Reviewed by Marty Shaw for Reader Views (08/10)
For the most part, “Memoirs of a Life Insurance Icon: Khuda Buksh,” is a slightly misleading title because the majority of the book is a compilation of articles and interviews from people who knew Khuda Buksh, and not the man himself. Still, the title isn’t completely inaccurate because the end of the book is filled with the thoughts and opinions of the man who is credited for almost single-handedly bringing life insurance to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The interviews with friends and co-workers provide great insight into Khuda Buksh, and they do a good job of showing how he became such an inspiration to others in the field of life insurance. Described frequently as a workaholic, Buksh dedicated his life to the business of life insurance and those who sold it. More than one person recounts stories of him buying cars or loaning money to agents who were going through rough times.
It’s nearly impossible for a man to dedicate so much of his life to work without having the family life suffer, and Khuda Buksh is no exception. An interview with his wife shows the other side of the man that others spoke so highly of, as seen in this example:
“Insurance workers only talk to other people in their field. They totally forget their families. He did not take much care of our family. He just handed me an amount of money at the beginning of the month. I would say, ‘How can I manage the family with such a small amount of money?’ He replied, ‘Manage for the time being and I’ll give you more later.’”
“I would always make a list of my purchases and show it to him. Once the money was gone, he would give me more. He paid little heed to family matters. When he gave me the money, he said, ‘It’s up to you to look after the family affairs.’”
Regardless of how his family life was, Khuda Buksh was a shining example of what an insurance salesperson should be. In one section of his memoir, he states:
“The first and foremost object of an insurance agent is to see that any one of his neighbors or acquaintances does not fall in financial hardship nor does not any one of them die, leaving the member of his family in wretched condition. Such kind of philanthropic thinking makes an insurance man noble and elevated.”
Armed with such noble intentions, it’s easy to see how Khuda Buksh was able to elevate a profession that was seen with very low regard at that time.
While I would have enjoyed a little more detail on exactly how Mr. Buksh was able to achieve such success in an area where life insurance was looked down upon, I found “Memoirs of a Life Insurance Icon: Khuda Buksh” to be an educational look into a profession and a culture that isn’t known to many and I gained a newfound respect for those who truly try to do good by others.