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An Ode to Women Professionals

Anjani Kumar Sharma 
on 08 March 2015

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या देवी सर्वभुतेषु CA रूपेण संस्थिता  

नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमो नमः II

(To the Divine Woman, who resides in all existence in the form of a Chartered Accountant, We bow to her, we bow to her, and continually we bow to her)

Parents in India choose the career for their children. They have their own profound belief to justify their choice. In my family the decision was perhaps taken in unison by my parents and grandparents, but for different reasons. My Grandmother had an interesting view on why I must become a Chartered Accountant. She would rhetorically say, “I am a mother of a Chartered Accountant and now I want to be the Grandmother of a Chartered Accountant.”  And she did become.. It was my tribute to her sacrifices and belief. Today on International Women’s Day I salute the exceptional courage, indomitable spirit and great achievements of all Women, and in particular all the Women Chartered Accountant and CA Students. I my quest to gather some interesting trivia I stumbled upon the following:

There are 47,665 Women Chartered Accountants as members of ICAI out of which 41,483 are Associate members and 6,182 are Fellow Members. Out of Associate members 10,866 have Full Time COP, 1,231 have Part Time COP, and 29,385 have No COP. Out of the Fellow members 4,900 have Full Time COP, 265 have Part Time COP and 1,017 have No COP. This constitutes to about 21% of the total Chartered Accountants of India. The future though is promising as Girls student at have 36% share in ICAI’s active studentship. 1,12,205 of them were in CPT, 1,11,909 in IPCC, 60,789 were in Final.

During my research I came across some great Women who are institutions of courage and inspirations for all of us.

1. Ms. R Sivabhogam -  THE FIRST Woman Accountant

She Graduated from Queen Mary’s college, Chennai and was a freedom fighter who took an active part in Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation movement. Due to her role in the freedom struggle that Sivabhogam was imprisoned for a year. It was during her imprisonment she resolved to become an accountant and subsequently created history by becoming the first Woman Accountant in the year 1933. She started her independent practice in 1937 and was also a part-time assistant with M/s. Sastri and Shah. On the formation of ICAI in 1949 Sivabhogam was enrolled as a member and became a fellow on 17th June, 1950. Ms. Sivabhogam was elected as a member in the very first year of the formation of the Southern India Regional Council (then Madras Regional Council) and was its Chairman for three consecutive years from 1955 to 1958. Thus, she holds the record for not only being the first lady Chairman of a Regional Council but also a Chairman of a Regional Council for three consecutive years. Till date no other woman Chartered Accountant has held the post of the Chairman of the Southern Regional Council.

2. Mrs. Shirin K Engineer – The FIRST Woman Accountant

She too is touted as the first lady to have qualified as Accountant. Mrs. Shirin K. Engineer belonged to Mumbai and had passed the B.Com Examination of the Bombay University with Advanced Accountancy and Auditing in the year 1930. She was awarded the GDA Diploma upon completion of her practical training in accounts in the year 1933. This enabled her to be enrolled as a Registered Accountant (R.A.) in December 1933, and as A.C.A in July 1949.

3. Naina Lal Kidwai – THE FIRST in so many things!

This super woman is also a Chartered Accountant and a very inspiring one. Naina Lal Kidwai's firsts is undoubtedly incredible: She was the first Indian woman to graduate from Harvard Business School. Her first job was with Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers or PWC). This also made her the first woman to be hired by PWC. Now, she is the first woman to lead a foreign bank in India – HSBC.

4. Rajani Gopal – THE FIRST Visually Challenged Woman Chartered Accountant.

Hellen Keller had said “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” The statement was lived in spirit and essence by the awe-inspiring Rajani Gopal - a visually challenged girl who cleared the ICAI exam during 2002 to become India’s first visually challenged woman to become a Chartered Accountant. It was sheer perseverance, indomitable resolve and character that this feat was achieved. The list of her accomplishments are diverse as this gifted lady is a Veena Player and a social worker.


5. Ms. Nandita Shah & Ms.Priya Bhansali – THE FIRST Topper and Council Member

Ms. Nandita Shah was the first lady to have topped the CA Final Examination. She achieved this feat in November 1983 examination. Ms.Priya Bhansali was the first lady to have got elected to the Council of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI).

Let us honur all Women across the world who live each day with a resolve to make this world a better place. Let us renew are pledge towards Women Empowerment and bow to her – in respect, admiration and feel inspired.


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