Hello everyone, I Praveen Sharma, welcome you all on CAclubindia.com. Once again we are here in an exclusive chat with our special guest CS MAMTA BINANI, our newly elected president of the Institute of company secretaries of India for the year 2016.
CS Mamta has 18 years of work experience as a practicing company secretary. She is an acclaimed speaker in professional forums on subjects of academic interest including inter-personal & communication skills.
Hello Mam, I welcome you on behalf of CAclubindia and all our members. First of all many congratulations to you that you have been elected as the President of ICSI.
Thank you very much for inviting me here and it’s really being so thoughtful to cover the interview from ICSI. It’s not my interview- it’s ICSI as a body that I am reflecting today in this channel.
To begin with our conversation, we would want to know, what is your roadmap, your vision for this particular year for the institute, members and students?
You have asked a very pertinent but a very straight question and the first question being so straight is really appreciable. Any person who comes to such a position or a chair, I think, has to have a very clear vision. So, that’s the most foremost idea that I have in my mind is a very clear roadmap which is measurable in nature and which is tangible in nature. I have always felt that if the engine of a train is going in a certain direction, it’s very important that the entire bogies of that train also goes in the same direction. And when I say this, I am referring to our honourable prime minister’s vision to take the country forward and for which he has coined many slogans and many such schemes which is very very close to everybody’s heart and why is it so because he has been aligning his thought process not only with some straight of the society but touching all lives in some way or the other and when I say that my thought is aligned to his- it’s because me and him as a head- we relate to the same society, we are belonging to the same fabric of our country. Therefore, if you ask me my clear goals, I will not unveil my entire goals for the entire year because if I do so, I will get lost. So, I always believe in, if you may say so, in dividing my goals into (may be) 3 months goals so that my eyes are set on the goals and I know that this is what- I have to finish it within 3 months.
Now, let me take your permission to unveil the 3 months goals. I am deeply concerned, not in a negative sense, of course, when I say concerned, I am concerned because I want to work on it deeply. To start with, I would like to talk about skill India which means- I really want to talk about skilled CS where you know that the ICSI or be the institute of the other institutes, they have a huge number of student fraternity. For the ICSI, we also have a number of almost 4 lakh. So, that’s a humongous youth – the palpable youth rather with which we are really endowed with the responsibility to should I say) to handle their future or carry forward their future because they invest their golden years with us- golden years would mean the formative- the young years. Lot of our students, in any professional course if you see, they may not be able to cross all the streams of the tests that we have and even if they are, so which means – Skill India would mean what- 2 things, if I would say skilled CS, would be two things –
1. I skill those people more who have not been able to really cross the stages of my exam so that they become more employable.
2. The people, the students who are passing my course – I train them so well that they become really a sought-after person to be employed in the corporate world.
So, there are two types of skilling that I just spoke of and in both the skilling, my highest attention will be given and when I say my – in me, I am subsuming my entire council, secondly, I would also like to mention here that ICSI is in its biggest drive of improvisation by way of technology. So, we have a project called Smash – Smash is a project which is an acronym for a very big term but in short, if I have to say it, Smash will encompass everything that means from the stage – a person comes in into our database as may be just wanting to look after, I mean look on into what the course is all about, enrolment as a student and coming out as a finished product or being a member, so the entire life cycle of that person in my history of ICSI would be captured through Smash with the least intervention of human hands but with the human touch. So, I am calling it digital ICSI. Thirdly, if I can just share something more – I am very keen on having a mission of start-up, stand-up CS. Now, you may be thinking that all the nomenclatures are a kind of borrowed from the vision of prime minister’s vision. But, I said yes, that is how, I want to work. I want to be in complete alignment with the vision of our leader so that all the concerted efforts if made by each iota of the society, imagine the kind of growth that we all will achieve, so I am also talking of start up, stand up CS. But, before, I get into little bit details of the scheme, I would like to put a caveat, i.e. all the schemes have still to go to my councils for its approval. So, it’s in a very bare minimum stage where I am just thinking my mind aloud and it is not yet finalized because unless I get the nod of my council, nothing would be getting a yes, so with that caveat, I thought it is important. As I was mentioning, stand-up, start-up CS, here I would like to tell you that the concept that is going around in my mind is to help my members, specially the youth- the young members who have recently passed out. For e.g. every year, around 4 to 4 and a half students become members of our institute and many of them wants to start practice. You understand very well as a citizen also that starting your own entrepreneurial instinct is actually not very easy and that is the time when you need a person who can actually handhold you, that is where I think that ICSI has a body could play a role and I have a feeling that this scheme may do well where I am just thinking that – I have about 69 chapters where ICSI’s physical offices, I am not talking of virtual offices- physical offices with all brick & mortar is there in 69 cities across the nation and we have 4 regional offices and so when it is regional office, it is a very big setup with a complete human man power with complete infrastructure etc. So, that way, we are present in quite a number of places and specially we are concentrating on smart cities now, so, therefore, I want to start it as a pilot project at one place at-least and what I want to do is- may be, if I have some space which I can really carve out in my existing infrastructure, I would like to convert it into a business centre – the name that I have used is business centre but don’t take it terminology wise, that is, just to explain you the concept well and I divide it into (may be) open workstations and I give one each workstation to my newest practicing member. Advantage is- firstly, he will not have to look for space outside, so, therefore, he is not spending. Secondly, he is in safe hands so he will feel that he will get complete guidance because he is sitting in the institute so all kind of other guidance of- books, may be library- all that will be available in the institute premises. Thirdly, I am also planning that I will tell that person to keep at-least two trainees under him so that way, he is also playing the role of a responsible citizen that he has to train two more youths to take up the position later on. So, I planned that I would give it for a year and then he has to leave the seat and then the next generation has to come in. So, it means that I handhold that person, you can actually call it as an incubation centre. And, when you say- start-up, stand-up India, I feel incubation has a very big role to play because I think the hop is the biggest incubator in the world, in the universe. But, when you go out to work, home cannot be your incubator. So, may the extended home i.e. your own institute could serve the gap. Let, me not share more because I always feel that dedicated efforts if made has to be short.
The initiatives which you have planned are not only interesting but also very practical and as you said, they are aligned with the vision of our leader. And we really hope that the council will get along and will pass these initiatives. Now, to continue this, in this developing economy and the initiatives like start up India, skilled India or make in India are really at boom and the government is also promoting it a lot and taking lot of initiatives for the youth. So, what a CS can do so that he can also take the advantage of these initiatives and the opportunities which these initiatives will create to his advantage and also to participate in these initiatives.
Absolutely !! See, I have always felt that if you get a mental peace and if you are a little bit settled, then only you start, talking and thinking about others. So, I am just trying to give this person- who is a new comer in this business – a stability and this stability it’s not only going to enable him to get better business, a better practice, just imagine the kind of peace he will get in his personal life also, so when he gets all of it – obviously, he will read more, he will explore himself more and when he does these things more, it’s the brand ICSI that goes for a high so therefore, through one or two things, actually I am landing stability to my member and that I think is the biggest gift that an institute can give.
And also the company secretaries can play an important role in these initiatives.
Just to tell you- this is a very bare flank that I have shared with you. It’s like- I am buying a house, it takes time to furnish it. What I just mentioned it to you is like I am buying a house so as the days goes by, you become better and better – you could have newspaper reading session, you could have leaders coming into those incubation centre and talking about business, then you can have webcasts and webinars on special laws, on special subjects, on special schemes of the government. I can talk about land acquisition laws, I can talk about make in India week, I can do so many things because they know that they are serious and they want to learn more and more and I instigate them to learn more so I think that if my council really advices and guides me on this, I don’t know, I am very much excited about it!!
GST will soon be implemented so how will the changed regime impact the role of company secretaries?
First, let me tell you that GST is the biggest gift that a country can get in this recent decade or so because of one reason that I will speak of and the others and this one is also in the media but this is one reason which has gone down very well with me. Imagine, if all the business and the unorganized sector is captured in the GDP, just think about it, and if it is, then what happens to our GDP numbers. I think it’s a very rosy thing that we are looking to see and which is the fact. I think GDP is best thing that is going to happen is – lot of that business which is happening in that unorganized sector will actually come down to the organized sector and the moment that happens- it’s not only going to help the economy by way of GDP, income coming in, buying power going up, all that you know it falls in sequence but apart from that, you asked me specific question that how does it help the professionals. The moment you come into an organized sector, you cannot do without professionals. So, therefore, the role of a professional raaton raat itna barh jayega that there will be so many takers but I hope we professionals, are able to take that. So, therefore, as an institute, but then your channel is going to reveal all of it (smiles) and I feel that I am going to make it so public. (smiles)
That would create a positive environment and will raise hopes. But yes, you mean basically there would be a positive impact on the professionals?
Definitely and we are really going to buck up our professionals to learn the nuances of GST, anyways we are working on that. When we are working on VAT, we are also working on service tax, so you know, the concept is not too different. If you are working on those two fronts, GST goes hand-in-hand. So, in GST, all that will be subsumed.
Recently the Companies Act, 2013 has considerably enhanced the role and responsibilities of company secretaries both in employment and in practice. Now with this changed role how a CS can be instrumental in ease of doing business in India?
Company Secretary has been one of the institutes which is a party to this company law committee. You must be aware that- it was last set in last June 2015. This committee has been working very hard and it constitutes of many other esteemed people also, it is headed by the secretary of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs Shri Tapan Ray under the guidance of our honourable minister. This company law committee has actually worked to understand where is it that the shoe is pinching and 2013 being a very new act, obviously the working period that it got, about 2 years- it was very positive on the part of the ministry to take it up because only after you function in one law, you get to know where the real issues are, where the real problems are and I think that as an institute also, we have given lot of inputs, we have given our lot of time and energy into this. Our immediate past president- Mr. Atul Mehta has been a part of that company law committee on behalf of the ICSI and we definitely plan to work hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs in this front and many more fronts that is offered to us for nation building. If you ask me about ease of doing business, I think everybody is aware of the Hon’ble prime minister’s high objective is to feature in the first 50 rank of ease of doing business and I think today we are in the 132nd rank, if I am wrong, you may correct me. So, insolvency law – the bankruptcy law, that is the one law which is now being mooted and it may see the light of the day very soon, after being, obviously the whole process is being followed. That will really help us ahead of the country to grow quite a number of notches up and with the Companies Act 2013 getting creased, getting ironed out rather, of course it has to go through a process. Today, it’s just a committee to report, it will go through many more standing committees etc. It has a process that has to be followed. After those processes are followed, I am very sure that very positive result will come out of it which will surely help the companies which is registered under the act- Companies Act 2013 or 1956 act to really ease up their issues which were really creating differences for them but without compromising on the compliance issues because I am sure what we all understand is government at the cost of compliance is not going to do anything because they understand that we live in a very dynamic scenario and we are dealing with many kinds of stakeholders so without compromising on compliances but at the same time, taking care of what actually need not be there would probably help the businesses to towards the ease of doing business.
There are many less company secretaries in practice so what initiatives institute will take to support and motivate them in the direction?
Ya, but why you said it’s less- we are 7000+ and definitely you should compare with may be Chartered Accountancy Institute, which I am sure, which you are so you have to appreciate that – look at our numbers, we are about 42,000+ members and I think CA is about 2 lakh+ members and CA institute is much older than us in age and as a profession, company secretary in the yesteryears was a profession of employment because they are the conscience keepers, they are the business managers and they work in close affinity with the board of directors. So, in the yesteryears, it has been always a profession which was highly in employment and they were working hand-in-hand with the board. It is, I think about, if you ask me, in about 15 to 20 years, you see that people have really started coming in practice. Before that, there was not such a big flow of people coming into, taking up entrepreneurship. So, I think practice is nothing but entrepreneurial instinct which of late if you see- what is stand-up, start-up, what is new age entrepreneur etc. is nothing but starting your own venture. You are leaving those pushy jobs and you are leaving those 10 digits cheques etc. and you know, you are coming to practice, so I think the culture of the country is also changing. So, therefore, you are now seeing a lot of people coming into practice. But, I think your question still remains unanswered that what are the initiatives that I will be taking from the institute so as to have more and more entrepreneurs. So, start-up, stand-up is one, secondly I would like to really work on giving them more and more practical knowledge which means that I am planning to have those court-rooms, NCLT sessions where actually I don’t give them a book. For e.g, I don’t give them a book, okay, so this is a book on NCLT and he just opens up and reads it. Today’s generation is not having so much of patience as I think. That is what I feel when I also see my kids. So, I am really on the job to- may be do a lot of webinars and webcasts. Why I am talking of webinars and webcasts- because that is the best medium that you can have the most quality product and I control it from my headquarters and I stream it all across the nation. So, my quality is controlled and even people sitting in the remotest part of India need not travel down to any place to just have a look at the programme or understand the programme - it’s available. Third, it’s called an archival value. So, if you are not able to join in today, it’s there in the YouTube, there you can just watch it. So, what I am trying to say you is I arm them with a lot of ammunitions and what is my ammunition – knowledge and if you arm with ammunition, who stops you to just shoot it.
As a CS and a soft-skills trainer, you understand the paramount importance of communication in this elite profession. Would you please guide our members on how they can make use of such skills to their advantage at work?
Using it for an advantage in work, believe me, it has quite immense advantages in personal life. So, the message by saying this – I would like to convey is that communication is the heart-line of a life. I would just give you a very small sentence.
“Choro, mat maro.”
Let me just shift the comma “Choro mat, maro.”
Just, imagine with a small shift of a comma which hardly people bother, I have changed the entire import of the sentence. This is the power of communication and imagine you are working for the corporate sector or if you are self-employed, you are working for so many corporate sectors because when you are not having one boss but you are dealing with so many clients and how do you correspondent with them – you write; you either write e-mails, you write letters or you text or you talk. Everything has got value – even the body language. So, to me, communication is extremely a life-line of everybody, every business, of every entrepreneur and from the institute, we are very conscious of this and we are also keen to may be, give some sessions on clothes, wearing because you remember in the beginning, I said, I want to develop actually complete profession so from top to bottom, I will work on them.
What initiatives do you plan to take at institute level for women members, to encourage them to be active professionally and take up leadership positions in organisations?
I think this question doesn’t really fit in my cycle- why am I dividing my people into constituencies – into water type compartments- men and women are all equal among equals, so, therefore, if I am able to bring value to my table of profession, anybody and everybody will get advantage out of it. So, the food would be ready from ICSI, it’s how much we can eat. So, a woman or a girl would be highly benefited out of it- that much I can say. I am bringing it to your table, I am bringing it to your desktop. You needn’t even travel to learn, you can actually do it from your desktop. So, that’s the biggest advantage that I am bringing to everybody and probably women and girls will be the most benefitted out of it and I am also bringing this advantage to my people who would be not in the main cities. So, therefore, they are also getting benefitted. You must be knowing that today SEBI laws and Companies Act demand so many women directors and still companies are not able to figure out women directors. So, if I am able to really help them to become a professional which they are - I am just going to polish the diamond a little more - that’s it. Who may I to, you know the value system of a person or the learnings of a person, I am just there to (may be) polish it a little. I cannot play a much larger role than that. So, if I am able to do that for even a few people and they are able to take it up in their lives, then I am sure that the employability and the enthusiasm towards the profession will go up.
Can you throw some light on the recent proposed Amendment Rules, 2015?
We discussed it just a little while back so Company Law Committee as I said- it is of course towards easing out of business but without compromising in the compliance issues. So, let the days unfold. We want to see a lot of discussions happening on this committee report and I am sure that at the end of the day – it would be a win-win situation for everybody because I firmly have a belief in the thought that if the industry is good, if the business is going and the economy is point, everybody will be happy with it, everybody will get the share of their cake. So, it’s very important that we are able to save the businesses and if PM Modi’s initiatives, I am sure, will bear fruit very soon because now, the train is on track.
It is! Finally, what would be your message to our members and viewers?
One line message- Have faith in yourself. Believe me, I have always felt that the limitation is always in our mind, in our hearts, in our bodies. Someway, lot of times, I have heard my students and members saying that we are not lucky to be born with a silver or a golden or a diamond spoon or we are not lucky to be born in a metropolitan like as the people are and so many other things but I have felt-
“Sacch mein jo udna chahta hain na, wo udaan kahin na kahi se to nikal hi leta hain.”
So, get going, be on it, and dream big. But act with small dedicated steps so that you are not lost in the crowd.
Right. As, I say, hope is what we have, faith is what we need.
I thank you Mam, for this wonderful conversation. It is a matter of huge honour for us that you have given your time for this interview. Thank you.
Yes. My pleasure!!
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