Professional courses are once again making their comeback in the Indian educational mindset. More and more students are opting for professional courses in India. Professional courses offer good career prospects, value for money and are relatively less hassled and cost lesser as compared to full time MBA of a normal university. Whereas normal Two year university MBA course might cost you around 150000, most of the professional courses comprising of CA, CS, ICWA cost around 45000.
Company secretary course is one of the most lucrative course and larger number of students are being attracted towards the course. The Institute of company secretaries of India has seen an upsurge in the number of students who choose CS as their primary career choice. The companies act 2013 too emphasizes on importance of company secretaries.
However , although the opportunities for a CS are good , no doubt , there are certain other perspectives associated with company secretary course that we miss .
1) Half knowledge is Dangerous
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot - Albert Einstein
A company secretary is expected to have knowledge of company law and also relevant important commercial , economical and fiscal laws . If we peruse the course syllabus , we find that the study material is appropriate on this front. The problem is that, unlike i.c.w.a or CA , most , if not all of the job openings for Company secretary either demand an additional l.l.b or a professional degree (read c.a ). If that's not the case, then they demand 3-5 years experience which is again an impediment. No one expects 7 digit salary at the start , but one expects at least a decent salary after going through such a rigorous training.
2) Why is it not that a CS course is equivalent to LLB?
Yes! this is a hefty demand but the current scenario calls for this. Law covers a large part of the CS syllabus and if we closely examine LLB course vis a vis the CS course, then barring family law, a CS student studies nearly 60 % of LLB course.
The CS- ignou m.com course allows credit of CS final subjects to its m.com course. On similar grounds , if careful follow up is done with the bar council and suggestions given by it are implemented in proper manner, then equivalence of CS course with LLB is just a matter of legislative procedure.
(For confirmity with UGC recommendations, they can add an additional exam to be given by CS which can have family law et al, to bring the certification at par. this is especially done for foriegn law degree holders to bring them in confirmity with Indian laws and certification. Same can be done for CS)
With this, the company secretary will at least have an option to save 3 precious years and gain admission to LLM.
Worldwide the trend has been harmonisation of education curriculum and prevent repitition and redundancy as far as possible. Sadly India seems to be an exception to this . If company secretaries are not meant to audit and prepare financial statements, lets at least make them de facto experts of law.
(here equivalence to llb does not mean permit to practise as an advocate in court, but for seeking admission to llm )
3) Lets reserve company law and compliance exclusively and permanently to a Company secretary .
All are agog about the rosy landscapes for a company secretary through the companies act 2013. however the draft rules have asundered the compliance rights of a CS with chartered accountants and cost accountants .
An article in chartered secretary a while back was an eye opener. Briefly it stated that:
1) all jobs relating to compliance, legal procedures are done in foreign countries, especially developed ones by the advocates.
2) Most of the governance task is handled by board of directors or independent directors.
Now the question is, what's the need of a company secretary in first place? However,having regard to the Indian business scenario, the separate post of a CS is needed to do all the above job. If that is the case and if special provisioning is done for the CS , then why again are all their rights being given to other fellow professionals .
4) additional changes in syllabus are needed
Many facets of law are still left behind in the current CS curriculum. There should have been acts like the land acquisition act etc in the course. Additionally advanced laws like copyright, patents, ipr should have been given more emphasis , as many company secretaries are seeking career as a patent attorney. The curriculum of the post qualification banking compliance course of ICSI and its own banking specialisation (new portion 2013) at the professional course are nearly one and the same .
Concluding, there is a lots of confusion at present in the minds of a CS student .Not regarding their future, but their present. A trip down the blogosphere and dedicated facebook pages will cement your opinion regarding this. The ICSI needs to lobby harder for better prospects of all of those who are pursuing their career as a company secretary
(Disclaimer - this article is not , not at all meant as a criticism of the icai , icwai or the icsi or to undermine the importance of company secretary course , but just a briefing of the current scenario regarding CS )