Alas, the exams are over. This is time to have some fun, rejuvenate, getting out from exam mood, Revamp, Reinvent, Restructure and Replenish the self. But one should never forget the horrendous process through which we have gone through in the due course. We always talk about ICAI’s wrong doings at the times of exams and then we tend to forget it. This time being the election time, I feel it would be appropriate to put our concern before the current and prospective council members.
Before moving forward I would like to tautologize the words of Shri Ramnath Goenka as ICAI’s President Naveen Sir mentioned in his message of November 2018-
“Be forthright, be frank, be fearless, whatever the odds, never hesitate to take a stand if you believe in it. Never hesitate to speak out boldly against the wrongs. And always, ensure that you illuminate the truth behind the events”
After the Financial Reporting paper, I was in chat with my cousin sister, she asked me “how did you do?” I said, despite good preparation my performance was average. I was given to understand that 30-33 marks questions were not drafted properly. Next, I put question before her “can't we do anything?” She said become a member and then you could do something. I was like, till the date how many students have become members. Like all other people “Would I think about all such issues which won't be relevant for me after getting through the exams?” So the same murky situation continues because no member raises the voice against the ineptitude faced by him or her during his or her student days and hence students continue to suffer.
“Injustice Anywhere Is A Threat To Justice Everywhere.” I believe that one should never be afraid to raise one’s voice in pursuit of honesty, truth and compassion and against injustice, wrong doings and greed. If people all over the world would do this, it would certainly change the earth. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. Silence becomes cowardice when the occasion demands speaking out whole truth and accordingly I have decided to put some brutal but true facts before the prestigious CA members and students.
CA is a professional course and at the CA final level, a candidate is tested for his expert knowledge of the subjects and the standard expected is very high. CA syllabus is huge and it needs a lot of dedication and patience along with the endless energy and enthusiasm to prepare, present and comes meritorious. It is said that you have to write a technical language of the module to get through the exams. Therefore, we students always try to learn the facts and language of the module but unfortunately end up forgetting in exams. We are only taught to memorize the facts and figures and so the creative and independent thinking is somehow put to the back burner. The ordeal is so terrible that we are losing interest in studies. We are the people who have reached up to the final level, if are not studying now it is equally a concern for the CA fraternity as a whole. Can't this learning and knowledge gaining process be interesting, more efficient and effective?
CA is not tough, we are very much capable of getting through the exams. But ICAI creates undue challenges for us. Sometimes it plays bluff with us, it asks questions from one chapter for so many marks and other it leave completely untouched (for e.g. in old syllabus IDT paper wherein not even a single question from Supply, Valuation, Exemptions, Composition scheme, Time of Supply , place of supply, were not asked which constitute the major chunk of the syllabus). I agree to the fact that one should study everything while preparing for Final Level. We can’t do selective studies.
There is nothing wrong in setting these kind of papers, but it’s unfair when leave between each exam is only one day. It is humanly impossible for one to study and revise everything in a day’s time before exams. We focus more on important part of the syllabus on last day and we find that there is something altogether different in exams. It is also unfair on the part of ICAI to never set this type of papers for Mock Tests and RTPs, defeating the very purpose of MTPs and RTPs is to prepare students to face the exams.
I’m not saying that ICAI should set question paper based on students view but there should be some standards for the same. ICAI is known for its standards, we have standards for Accounting, Auditing, and for some or other so many things. Are there any standards for setting the question papers too?
Further, almost all the times, papers are too lengthy which can’t be completed within given stipulated time of 3 hours. It is beyond our understanding that ICAI wants to produce qualified chartered accountants or qualified writers who can write 40-50 sheets of papers in 3 hours. Please test our knowledge not the writing capacity. If you want to even test it please test our typing speed which is really going to matter in our future endeavors. I would request you to please ask your paper setter to write all the answers at his own in stipulated time of 3 hours. If he is able to finish entire paper even in 3.15 hours, then and only then circulate it among students otherwise please reconsider your questions. If the person from your side can finish it in 3.15 hours we students can finish it in 3 hours.
The way Papers are set and exams are conducted have been and is literally questionable. Sometimes I feel ICAI sets its paper not to test the knowledge of the students but to deliberately fail them. Many times questions are not drafted correctly. Sometimes we found typos in the question paper. For instance, this is a fundamental thing that issued capital can never exceed the authorized capital. Does not the paper setter know even this fundamental thing? Question is asked of Corporate Restructuring where issued capitals of a newly formed company exceeds authorize d capital. While giving us suggested answers, I know that institute would take some illogical assumptions and would solve the question accordingly. Sometimes it takes assumptions of figures also. Why don’t you give the appropriate information? Moreover, I have heard that in new syllabus FR paper, ICAI clarified that Cross holding is not to be asked in exams but it was the first compulsory question in question paper.
It seems that after setting of question paper nobody does even proof reading. Are paper setters are running short of time? Can’t they invest required time and take care of such silly blunders in question papers. After all this is going to be deciding factor of our efforts, competence and fortune as far as CA exams and results are concerned. I would only request to ICAI to maintain due diligence while setting question papers and their evaluation. Please do not take the life and future of the aspirants lightly.
We understand that there are many humans involved in the process and human has many flaws, he may commit mistakes. But ICAI being world’s largest Accounting body shouldn’t plea and act like this. If you are unable to avoid mistakes in the evaluation process please make it system driven to the extent possible. Let the exam pattern wholly be of MCQs.
ICAI, please come forward speak out something on these facts in some or other ways. Lets us know your intention. Don’t pretend that the interest of student is your foremost priority. I know, you won’t, because you tend to float on the top without any base. Even in case if you come forward, you would say, these all are baseless and to dent the image of the institute. We know, ICAI has been very arrogant in accepting the bitter truth. They truly say, “You learn nothing from your mistakes if you think you are right all the time”
I request you to all my friends, peers and senior members please initiate some efforts, put these concern before election meetings, and seek their views, plans in this respect. There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
Other areas having the urgent and utmost scope of improvement
Apart from the Question papers, there are many other important areas I have tried to draw your attention towards few of them-
1. Scope for improvement in CA curriculum:
Technology is changing the way of living and doing work. It has changed the way of doing business. Gone are the days where we needed information in our head to get the things done. We need to have the skills to make use of available information. We should be equipped with more of Drafting, communication, Analytical skills which should be backed up by creative and independent thinking rather than doing “Ratta” of syllabus and becoming qualified dumbs.
Fortunately or Unfortunately, CA curriculum is least concerned with the development of Soft skills. The main focus area of CA is only to feed our mind with information which anyway easily available in today’s time. What we all need to learn is to analyze the available information and how to make use of such information in our work.
I have done my articleship from a good firm so I could hone up my skills to some extent but this is not about me or a person, it’s about the majority of the students. students who don’t get articleship exposure in good CA firm remain dumb even after becoming qualified CAs and often they face challenges in getting good job or establishing their own practices. Due to lack of competence Business houses are afraid to hire newly qualified CA, if they hire they end up being paid measly salaries.
In the wake of these dynamic requirements, I would request you to please put some conscious effort in this respect. Evaluate the circumstance and make suitable changes in CA learning process. There should be more emphasis on Application based study.
“Education is not the learning of the facts, but training of mind to think"- Einstein
2. Scope of improvement in Evaluation System:
In my last attempt, I decided to get the verified copies from ICAI. You would be surprised that there were two answers where no marks were allotted. I myself was sane enough to see that I typically wrote answers as in Practice Manual with proper notes. Still, checkers couldn't see it. In another question, full marks were allotted even that question was completely wrong.
In some of my friend’s marks sheet, marks on report card are more than what was written on the answer sheet. What is this anomaly is something illogical and beyond understanding?
When somebody raises voice against it, irrelevant and unsatisfactory responses are given by the ICAI. ICAI and its council members are fully aware of the fact that their evaluation system is not full proof and yet they ignore it completely instead of admitting what is a brutal fact. How can ICAI expect its students to still trust them with their faulty mechanisms? No doubt that ICAI doesn’t have sufficient examiner to examine the papers of more than 60k students but instead of admitting their incompetence, ICAI continues to play shamelessly with career of thousands of deserving students.
I think this matter is already before the council and they have formed one team to consider this issue so let’s not speak much on this topic. However, given time of one month is already over.
3. Fix the No. of attempts:
If ICAI thinks students are not competent enough to become Chartered Accountants, tell them as soon as possible. Don’t wait till they reach the final. Inculcate more effective assessment procedures before final level.
At the final level we become masala of Sandwich, we can’t go back and dare to take on some other course. At least fix the number of attempts one can make to get through final exams to pave the way for non-competent students so that they can do something else even better with their lives.
4. Voting right to students:
Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth. We believed that it’s Institute of students as well as members in equal proportion. But unfortunately, there has been discrimination from ICAI’ end. It is seen that preference is given to its members over its students. This we can also make out from the manifesto of the various members who are contesting the council elections. I think students are hapless because they don’t have voting powers.
I feel at-least members of BOS should be elected by the students as students are actual stakeholders of the BOS. Students who have cleared both the group of Inter should be eligible to vote in selecting BOS team.
5. Continuous learning programs for Students:
ICAI has made provisions for GMCS and ITT but unfortunately most of the times we don’t find batches for such courses. I was searching batches for GMCS but could hardly find any seat owing to the limited choice of cities. It’s hilarious, ICAI doesn’t even have machinery for such mandatory courses. I have seen my friends who struggled a lot in finding the batches for such mandatory courses. Conscious efforts are required to resolve this issue.
6. Regulating of Pass percentage:
We know ICAI has been empowered to regulate the results by The Chartered Accountant Regulations, 1988. Is it really required? ICAI claims that it doesn’t manipulate results then why this clause? No student asks ICAI to pass them with undeserving marks and to reward with marks even if the answers are wrong. Everyone is asking for only one thing- Give us the marks we deserve honestly and without any manipulations of adding/ reducing marks where there's no need of doing so.
Why standard of results need to be maintained if you believe that by going through the process of CA, a stone can become gold, a student becomes professional. Isn’t it good for the society to have more such qualified professionals The main concerns is that they should be empowered and equipped with a galaxy of stunning skills to manage and run business houses?
Professionals are not goods where you need to maintain a demand-supply principle. ICAI should make endeavors to make its students empowered so that they need not be dependent on the job or CA practice. Train the students in such a way that they can think beyond these two options. After qualification students should be able to generate their own employment with creative thinking and actions rather than seeking job and struggling in practice.
From the above points, I am not saying that the prestigious ICAI has become an incompetent professional body in taking care of the interest of its students but only trying to indicate that there is a lot of areas which needs improvements. I just want to say that there are some basic flaws in ICAI laid procedures. To keep Legacy of our prestigious profession at its pinnacle it is utmost required to remove those flaws without affecting the dignity of the institute. Please bring Transparency in the entire process, for which you are actually known for.
It is humbly requested to all the members and students to come forward and stand against the injustice. Things will not fall back into balance on its own. I believe together we can bring something even better for us as well as our future aspirants too. I would also request to the senior and respected members of the institute, kindly make some productive and conscious move in student’s generosity.
“Let’s get into the practice of rebalancing, it's never too late to make a new beginning. If not now then, when and if not you then, who?”