It was heartbreaking to learn about the news that an insurance icon in the country, breathed his last on the morning of May 20, 2020. In his death we have lost a pioneer, a dedicated insurer, an excellent administrator, an innovator, a person with the highest integrity and, above all, a person who maintained high ethical standards in all spheres of his life.
I met him first in March, 1975, at his office when he was the general manager. In so far as I can remember, he was then holding the 'current charge' of the managing director of Sadharan Bima Corporation. I was eager to learn a few things about the non-life insurance business on the advice of Late Dr A M A Rahim. Dr Rahim was working at that time at Bangladesh Bank as economic adviser, and was doing research on areas related to banking and insurance, among others. Shamsul Alam and Dr Rahim had been good friends since their university days. I had a little knowledge about life insurance, but knew virtually nothing about its non-life branch. Late Alam taught me like a professional teacher, who had wide knowledge and skills of the art of teaching a beginner. Thus began our close relationship that had lasted for more than forty-five years.
I had an opportunity to work with him on a committee formed by the Government of Bangladesh to draft insurance legislations a few years back. His lively participation in the committee meetings and his witty and humorous statements at the courses comprising discussions were enjoyed by all of us. I had the rare privilege to work with him on an insurance-sector project. During the assignment, I became amazed to notice his unbelievable ability to lead the discussions, his sharpness, and, more importantly, his up-to-date knowledge of what had been happening in the insurance business elsewhere in the world. Late Shamsul Alam was very conscious about the welfare of his colleagues. During his tenure as the managing director of Sadharan Bima Corporation for over a decade, he played a pioneering role in getting a huge tract of land allotted by the government at Uttara Model Town for housing of the low paid employees, as well as another large plot of land at Gulshan for housing facilities of the senior executives of Sadharan Bima Corporation.
Late Alam had the distinction of serving as the managing directors of Sadharan Bima and Jiban Bima Corporations, as well as the chairman of these two state-owned insurance corporations. He was the founder-director and managing director of Reliance Insurance Company. During his association with the company he laid a solid foundation for it, based on which the entity experienced continued growth and resilience and eventually became one of the most notable insurance companies in Bangladesh.
Shamsul Alam was the chairman of Bangladesh Insurance Association and founder-president of Baridhara Cosmopolitan Club. He admired and promoted the causes of his colleagues and the people who were in close companionship with him. He always found a way to get the best out of them. He was a kind-hearted man and found goodness in everybody who came in contact with him. He had a brilliant academic career all along.
Late Shamsul Alam was a chartered insurer and an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute (ACII), UK. He was awarded a gold medal by the government on the occasion of the first Jatiyo Bima Dibash (National Insurance Day) for his outstanding contribution to the development of the insurance sector in Bangladesh. His death has created a void in the country's insurance sector.
Dr Mohammad Sohrab Uddin, an Actuary, is a former Deputy Governor, Bangladesh Bank.