Results - only ICAI to be ashamed of itself

PS Prabhakar (Partner in a CA firm) (930 Points)

20 July 2010  

I do not know whether ICAI is proud of itself on releasing a meagre 3 plus percentage result in the Final exam but in my opinion, it should be ashamed of itself. The institute knows pretty well that this country which has a billion plus people has hardly 1.5 lakh CAs out of which 20% are abroad, 40% are employed and about 10% are old & retired with just 30% or so in 'practice'. And India being in the trajectory of economic growth is in need of more accountants and attesters of financials. Yet it decidedly making the output of CAs as very very low consciously enlarging the scope of other professionals like ICWAs and MBAs to enter in to the terrain. Having the exam standards unneccessarily tough, keeping the valuation procedures conveniently opaque and ensuring only a token output exams after exams, whose cause are they serving? Perhaps they want to keep enriching the private coaching academies who charge exorbitant fees. Or perhaps they want to only ensure the Multinational Accounting Firms are in the professional arena after about a decade, within which time all the present practising professionals would have faded away (and with hardly any new CAs coming for practice). 

The usual argument I get to hear from some people who always rever the ICAI, is that the quality of the examinees is so poor that the institute is unable to make them successful. I really don't understand this concept of quality and am rather even amused by it. In a country which does produce doctors and engineers by lakhs in private institutions owned by politicians and "education business tycoons", with absolutely no care or concern about their quality - in professions such as helathcare and infrastructure building - we are so 'concerned' about the 'quality' of this 'journal entry' profession!  Such doctors and engineers who would have secured their seats paying lakhs of capitation fees would naturally be seeking to get due  returns on their 'investments' and would most probably seek to indulge in all kinds of deeds in their profession. Thus, we can produce doctors with dubious competency levels and wealth-accumulating motives playing with lives of people and engineers with little or no concern for the quality in their work, building bridges and airports where all of us move about daily. Their actions are irreversible and can cause incalculable damage.  But,  we must produce only impeccable quality of accountants!  Accountants who can only simply reverse their actions by simple journal entries with no consequence whatsoever! What a wry comedy!

And what about the pattern of exams and valuation parameters? Who are setting papers and valuing answer sheets? Again CAs of yester years who invariably cut copy paste from earlier question papers or from text books available in the market which themselves are shoddy copies of established writers. These people cannot sit and write answers to the question papers they themselves sit and if valuing their own papers with their usual devilish mindset cannot put more than 50% of the minimum prescribed for  a pass. If the ICAI is serious in setting quality parameters which should be uniform across the board, the question papers will have to be only on Objective basis and papers corrected only by computers, without any possibility of human bias. It is not enough to keep bragging that we have the best examination standards and procedures. If such procedures play with thousands of students' careers, it will be graceful to make the procedures better, transparent and hassle-free.

I would also urge that the ICAI takes the nonsensical 'aggregate' pattern out of the system and also to conduct viva-voce kind of oral interviews for students failing by margins less than 10 marks in a group and / or 5 marks in a subject for a second review.

ICAI is already almost divested of its standard setting function (having mortgaged itself to IASB/IFRS as also having been made subservient to NACAS) and is also the Disciplinary function to a substantial extent. It is becoming only an examination conducting body. That at least it should do properly.