Let us recall when, about a year ago, the parents of Indian students studying in Australia were fear-stricken, as violence allegedly on the line of racial discrimination had been reported. Mass and media of our country had raised their voice against this violence. According to the UN, a ‘discrimination between human beings on the ground of race, colour or ethnic origin is an offence to human dignity and shall be condemned…as a violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms… as a fact capable of disturbing peace and security among peoples.’ Our own Constitution in its Article 15(2) defines: ‘No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, (or) restriction…’
Post-independence, for quite some years, the same ghost (of discrimination) has been haunting us in our own land. Soul of India lives in villages, it is said. Visit villages and we may discover: there is no concept of common wells, utensils or places of worship, to be used by all. We are generally more aware of the difference on grounds of religion/ caste and our socialisation with people of different religion/caste decreases. When it comes to family, such people are not a reality for us. Their inclusion in family is farther away from reality. This divide continues at workplace too. We are neither ready to acknowledge the presence of this divide nor strong enough to resist its presence. It is not acceptable that we still have divided opinions over such instances. Martin Luther King Jr., had expressed his concerns over this social difference and the value of togetherness: ‘We cannot walk alone…I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood….I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’ Unity is divine. India as a multicultural country presents us lots of challenges in the way of our unity, but history shows, we have always resisted such divisive sentiments through our conscience. It is time that we have to plunge deep into our conscience, find out the roots of such differences and remove their traces from it eventually.
People at the receiving end appear to be silent. We are silent too. Is it a careful silence on our part? Let us explore our responses. Let us be aware of the kind of future we will pass on to our generation next. Since the youth have an incessant energy, a heritage of divide and intolerance can create havoc in their life, which ultimately will affect the state of affairs in our country. We have to be responsible and vocal about voicing our opinions against it. We owe this to our generation next. We cannot evade our responsibility to our times. This is our social responsibility, probably a more important one, as it is more fundamental and capable of affecting our professional spheres too.Can we pledge to move towards this fundamental unity of mankind in our land?
Consolidating Professional Ties
Japan: Joint Initiative on IFRS
The undersigned along with the ICAI Vice-President CA. G. Ramaswamy and the ASB Chairman CA. Manoj Fadnis recently visited Japan as part of a high-profile delegation led by Shri R. Bandhyopadhyay, Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, with an objective to share our perspective with the concerned Japanese constituent to provide a framework for experience sharing in the process of convergence to the IFRS. With India already committed to treading a path to IFRS convergence in a phased manner and Japan having started the thought process for mandatory application of IFRS to be determined around 2012, the coming together of these Asian economies assumes a great significance in the region. The visit witnessed the signing of a historic MoU between the Core Group on IFRS (constituted by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India) and the IFRS Council, Japan. The undersigned signed the MoU representing India in the presence of the representation from Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, and other officials. During the occasion, the five subgroups on accountancy profession represented by undersigned and CA. G. Ramaswamy, Accounting Standards represented by CA. Manoj Fadnis, stock exchanges represented by Smt. Usha Narayanan, Executive Director, SEBI, regulatory issues represented by Shri Sunil Verma, Secretary, Audit Board, C&AG, Shri Jitesh Khosla, IICA, and representatives of PFRDA, IRDA and RBI, and industry represented by CA. T. V. Mohandas Pai, Infosys, met and exchanged their views. Apart from the undersigned and ASB Chairman, SEBI Chairman Mr. C. B. Bhave, Smt. Narayanan and Mr. Ravi Mohan from RBI also made presentations. Then, India-Japan Forum 2010 on issues related to implementation of IFRS was held. Sir David Tweedie, Chairman IASB, who was also present, addressed the occasion and expressed satisfaction over this dialogue and assured his support to this initiative. The event has a strong attendance of over 300 JICPA professionals and other professionals from Japanese industry.
Singapore: Towards Future Ties
At the advice of the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, the ICAI delegation which included the undersigned and ICAI Secretary Shri T. Karthikeyana among others, visited Singapore to participate in the first round of the 2nd Review Meeting in the context of India-Singapore CECA. The meeting was attended by the officials of Ministry of Trade & Industry, Government of Singapore. The undersigned interacted with Dr. Ernest Kan, President, ICPAS, and with other ICPAS functionaries. We clarified them that we at the moment were not looking at the licensing rights and, therefore, would not provide the same to the ICPAS members. Further, it was decided that the two Institutes would share their wish list by mid-August. Wish List from ICPAS has already been received and it is being perused for further necessary actions. While we invited the ICPAS delegation for a visit, they in turn invited us to visit them this year to carry the matter forward. This intent was shared by both ICAI and ICPAS in the plenary session of the Review Meeting chaired together by Mr. Rahul Khullar, Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Government of India and Mr. Ravi Menon, Permanent Secretary, Minister of Trade, Singapore. It has been proposed to hold an international conference jointly with the professional accounting bodies of Australia, New Zealand and Singapore in the last week of September in New Delhi.
Bangladesh: Attending SAFA Events
An ICAI delegation led by the undersigned that also included the ICAI Secretary Shri T. Karthikeyan and the Central Council members CA. Raj Kumar Adukia, CA. Sumantra Guha and CA. Pankaj Tyagee visited Bangladesh recently to attend the SAFA events. We actively participated and played a key role in taking the decision to a logical conclusion at the meetings of the SAFA Board and Assembly, and of various SAFA Committees. We also attended an international conference organised by the ICAB on Role of Chartered Accountants in the Mobilization of Natural Resources, which was inaugurated by Hon’ble President of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh Mr. Md. Zillur Rahman. It was attended by Nobel Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus, Managing Director, Grameen Bank, as special guest. Dr. Atiur Rahman, Governor of Bangladesh Bank, the central bank of the country, was also present in the conference. The Conference provided a platform for sharing knowledge among the participants and for formulating recommendations on effective mobilisation of domestic resources.
Status of Convergence with IFRS
Clearing Accounting Standards
As the members are aware, meeting the target of convergence with the IFRS has been one of the primary focus areas of our Institute. To meet this target, relentless efforts are being made. As far as formulation of IFRS-converged Accounting Standards is concerned, all Standards have been cleared by the Council of the ICAI except that on Insurance Contracts (corresponding to IFRS 4) in respect of which comments are awaited from the IRDA. Most of the Standards have also been cleared by the National Advisory Committee on Accounting Standards (NACAS). Expectedly, all Standards would be ready for notification by the Government soon. The exercise to converge with IFRS and not to adopt the same signifies that efforts are being made to formulate Accounting Standards which, as far as possible, should be in line with the corresponding IAS/IFRS keeping in view the Indian conditions and circumstances. Accordingly, few departures are also being contemplated. To be properly addressed at international level, Indian concerns are also being taken up with the IASB. We would like to thank Accounting Standards Board Chairman and Secretary CA. Manoj Fadnis and Dr. Avinash Chander, respectively, for their guidance and strategic contribution in the complete process behind this valuable conclusion.
IASB Outreach Programmes
Since, in future, we would formulate and revise the converged Accounting Standards in accordance with the IFRSs issued/revised from time to time, a formal procedure for sending comments on the consultative documents issued by the IASB has been finalised so that Indian concerns are appropriately raised. To familiarise our members, corporates and other stakeholders with consultative documents and to address their concerns, many IASB outreach programmes are being organised by the Institute. Recently, such Programmes were organised in Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi, where IASB member CA. Prabhakar Kalavacherla and IASB Technical Manager Ms. April Pitman addressed on two IASB consultative documents on proposed IFRSs on Revenue and Leases and interacted with them to know the Indian concerns involved in those documents. One of such programmes held in Mumbai was attended by the NACAS Chairman CA. Y. H. Malegam also, who expressed reservations against accounting treatments suggested by IFRS in respect of Revenue Recognition and Leases.
XBRL Progress: Towards International Status
We want to inform our members that ICAI had taken an initiative to promote XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) in the country. XBRL is a novel method of electronic communication of business/financial data and an immense utility to capital markets and investing community. It is revolutionising the world business reporting while changing only the way of reporting. ICAI was granted a Provisional Jurisdiction of XBRL International Inc. (XII) in December 2008. During its tenure, XBRL India Jurisdiction has developed two taxonomies, General Purpose Financial Reporting XBRL Taxonomy for Commercial and Industrial Companies and Banking Taxonomy, which have been acknowledged by the XII. At present, the process of establishing taxonomies for NBFCs has been initiated. These taxonomies act as ‘dictionaries’ which are computer readable financial terms. The Jurisdiction is now in the process of opening up membership, for which a Section 25 company is being incorporated. After the incorporation, the Jurisdiction would apply to XII for becoming an Established Jurisdiction, which would enable India for voting at International Steering Committee (ISC) of the XII.
ICAI Recommends Amendments to CA Act, 1949
Our Council, at its 294th meeting held in March 2010 had constituted a Group on Amendments in the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949, under the Convenorship of the Vice-President of the Institute, CA. G. Ramaswamy, and asked it to suggest draft amendments in the Act arising out of the Report of the High-Powered Committee as submitted to the Central Government so as to amend the Act to take disciplinary action against erring CA firms also. On the recommedations submitted in June 2010 by the Group, the Council requested back the Group to reconsider in the light of suggestions made by its members. The Group resubmitted its revised recommendations to the Council in August 2010 and now it will again consider the amendments in light of the suggestions made by the Council members. Then, this will be forwarded to the Central Government for consideration and incorporation. The major purpose of making various amendments to the Act is to make disciplinary process speedier and more timebound, and to demonstrate to society for upholding the highest conduct of the professionals. Some of the amendments include the determination of prima-facie cases not to be handled by Director (Discipline) alone but rather by a Committee, action against CA firms, etc. Moreover, the action against the firm shall be covered by both Schedules to the Act involving not only financial penalty but also suspension thereof. However, the action against the firm is proposed to be taken by the Council only.
Capacity Building Measure: Meeting CA Firms
To adhere with the spirit of professional development, the Committee for Capacity Building of CA Firms and Small & Medium Practitioners organized in Mumbai and New Delhi meetings and brainstorming sessions for the partners of CA firm, where we interacted with the partners of CA firms and got wonderful suggestions.
As a matter of fact, 74 per cent of the profession is comprised of proprietors and, even after 61 years of the profession, most of the members still wait for a bank audit assignment as their major work sphere. It is high time that we come up and create world-class CA firms. We can’t ignore the likely challenge from China. We must be able to foresee the changing scenario in our profession and prepare accordingly. We need to encourage our firms to grow bigger with their multidimensional professional expertise. Networking and merger of the firms should be for real capacity building and, in no way, be limited to audit empanelment. We are aware that some of the arrangements or procedures laid down in the networking rules need to be reconsidered and reviewed afresh so as to encourage networking and merger. Name, place and seniority of the professionals and their firms should not be major concern in consolidations and mergers. Perspective and mindset towards consolidation needs to be changed. Firms should join hands for long-term prospects and the right parameter to measure the consolidation and merger of firms would gain in terms of increase in competencies and annual turnover. Here, we would like to appreciate the concerns of our members in profession who wish to set up their practice and face lot of challenges in the process. We are happy to inform that we have entered into an agreement with the Corporation Bank, which will grant loan on liberal terms. The details of the scheme will be announced shortly.
Planning Vision Document
It is quite satisfying to inform that we have already concluded 19 interactive workshop across the country in order to include the voice and vision of key resourceful people from varied stakeholder sections of the profession in ourvision document, and we still plan to host a few more of such exercises in remaining key areas. Members across the strata have expressed their concerns that the Institute should become a major global player by reorienting its strategy in education system including examination reforms so as to produce socially-relevant chartered accountants. However, there were concerns expressed by some stakeholders with regard to realignment of the profession deliverables. We ensure all our stakeholders who have contributed to the process that their valued inputs given towards creating an inspiring vision for the profession will be given due consideration. To ensure members’ active participation, we have hosted a web-form on the agenda of the vision exercise on our website (available till September 15, 2010). We urge our members to become a part of this grand exercise and ensure that their feedback is recorded with us.
Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Releases Booklet on Accounting Reforms
Shri K Rahman Khan, Hon’ble Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha recently released the booklet, Accounting Reforms in India-A Bird’s Eye View, prepared by the Committee on Public Finance & Government Accounting of the Institute. This booklet covers the achievements of accounting reforms, roadblock in the way for accounting reforms, needs to harmonize accounting standards, conversion from cash to accrual system and single to double entry book-keeping, implementation of accrual accounting in Government, and other related issues. While stressing a need to converge from single- to double-entry accounting system, Shri Khan appreciated our efforts in bringing out this booklet on Accounting Reforms in India. Having regard to the huge social and developmental expenditure of the Govt. of India on NREGA (now called Mahatma Gandhi Rojgar Yojna), he called upon the profession to conduct in-depth audit to serve the public interest more effectively.
Dr Parthasarathy Shome at ICAI Council Meeting
Dr. Parthasarathy Shome, Chief Economist in the Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (the British tax office) and ex-Advisor to the former Finance Minister of the country, came to the Institute at the 297th meeting of the Council held on 5th August, 2010. It was a matter of pride and privilege to have the august presence of one of the top economists at the Council meeting of the Institute and we must thank our Council Colleague Ms. Bhavna J. Doshi for taking the initiative for organising his visit. Dr. Som recalled that, as an advisor to the Finance Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram, he always suggested him to get chartered accountants from the national institute to look through what they were through. He admitted that he revered the accountancy profession.
Foundation Stone at Jodhpur: Seminar on Accounting and Taxation
The undersigned visited the newly acquired land site and laid the foundation stone of the Jodhpur Branch of ICAI. The senior-most member of the Jodhpur Branch and first gold-medallist of the Institute, CA. Ajeet Singh S. Bhandari was also honoured.
A seminar on Accounting and Taxation was organised for the members that was followed by a successfully-held, i.e. strong attendance of over 350, students’ seminar at Jodhpur. The undersigned was the Chief Guest for the programme. CA. Sunil Goyal, Past President, ICAI, CA Kemisha Soni, Chairperson-CIRC, and CA. Rajendra Kumar Saraf, Chairman- Jodhpur Branch were also present on the occasion. We apprised the members about the proposed plan of the Institute for increasing the membership fees, biometric verification in the CPE seminars, increase in contribution to the benevolent funds, etc. We asked our members to look at the infrastructure from a long-term perspective. With regard to our students’ initiative, we conveyed that various new measures like uploading of the training record by articled assistant, updation of study materials of IPCC course, commencement of the virtual classrooms by November 2010, etc., are in the pipeline. We also stressed our concerns for the students’ motivation for studying on continuing basis with seriousness.
Conference on Audit and Financial Reporting in Udaipur
Two-day conference on Excellence in Audit and Financial Reporting was organised by the Udaipur Branch of CIRC. Out of many presentations of papers and overviews, some of the notable ones were by our Central Council colleagues CA. Jaydeep N. Shah, Chairman, Financial Reporting Review Board, and CA. Abhijit Bandyopadhyay, Chairman, AASB, which were appreciated a lot for their deep insight and value-contribution. CA. Shah presentedCommon Discrepancies in Financial Statements Including Audit Reports in the conference, where he apprised the participants about the common non-compliances observed by the Financial Reporting Review Board (FRRB) during the review of generalpurpose financial statements. CA. Bandyopadhyay presented Overview of Standards in Auditing and Best Practices in Audit Reporting.
Training for Members for ICAEW Membership
In 2008, the ICAI had signed a historic MoU with the Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales (ICAEW), which allows our members having two-year post-qualification experience to obtain the ICAEW membership on passing the ICAEW’s final advanced-level paper Advanced Case Study – a 4-hour final paper that aims to test candidates’ professional skills in the context of business issues, building on technical skills and learning outcomes. We are happy to inform our members that we are now offering training for that course in our country exclusively through accredited training providers and publishers, Get Through Guides (GTG). GTG and ICAI have jointly designed a 10-day training programme, to be facilitated by faculty from England, for the purpose.
Convocations: Consolidating Members’ Belongingness
We would like to inform that a convocation ceremony of our Institute is intended to bring the young members of the profession under the umbrella of chartered accountant fraternity and to consolidate their belongingness to the Institute. The conferment at a convocation ceremony goes a long way in the milestones of the chartered accountants concerned as they cherish this occasion forever in their life. Convocations for the northern region were successfully held in New Delhi and Ludhiana, where more than 120 members attended the function along with their family members. Convocation for the eastern region was held in Kolkata and more than 200 members attended the function along with their family members. Convocations for the southern region were held in Bangalore and Chennai where more than 120 members and 250 members, respectively, attended the function along with their family members. Suresh C. Senapaty, Exec. Director & CFO, Wipro, and Col. (Dr.) G. Thiruvasagam, Vice- Chancellor, University of Madras, were the chief guest in the Bangalore and the Chennai ceremonies respectively.
Disciplinary Cases Concluded
Since the Council has expressed its serious concerns over the speedy conclusion of the disciplinary cases going on in the Institute, the Disciplinary Committee has followed the Council’s disposition in the right spirit and has cleared many cases since February 2010: Disciplinary Committee – 60 cases under Section 21D and 20 cases under Section 21B; Board of Discipline – 34 cases under Section 21A; and old Disciplinary 10 cases.
Revision of Stipend
We are really happy to inform our students that the Council at its recent meeting, keeping in view the prevailing inflation rate, felt a need for revising the existing stipend of articled assistants and decided to double it from its existing value. Accordingly, in order to implement the same, the relevant draft amendments in the Chartered Accountants Regulations, 1988 would be sent to the Central Government for approval, as the same would come into force after its approval:
PEE-II, PCE and IPCE Results
The ICAI recently announced the results of the examinations of PE II, PCE and IPCE held in May, 2010 on August 4, 2010. The pass percentages (both Groups) were 1.95, 13.5 and 12.28 in PE II, PCE and IPCE examinations respectively.
Female Candidates Excel: There are two candidates at all-India first rank in the Professional Competence Examinations (PCE) held in May 2010 with 77.67 per cent marks and both of them are female students. Even the second-rank holder is a female student with 76.33 per cent marks. The two of the first three toppers, second and third, of the IPCE (Integrated Professional Competence Examination) held in May 2010 are again female students. The second topper with 76.00 per cent marks is very close to the first, i.e. 76.14 per cent. The pass percentage of female student in all examinations but in PE-II, is better than their male counterparts.
Region-wise Performance: The percentage of students passed in PCE as well as in IPCE of the EIRC region was the best one among all regions, i.e. with 20.05 and 16.73 per cent respectively, while the WIRC was trailing behind on the second position with 13.71 per cent in the PCE and, surprisingly, the overseas was the second best in IPCE with 13. 64 per cent. CIRC was a close third, i.e. 13.29 per cent, in the PCE and WIRC got third rank with 12.84 per cent in the IPCE.
Decisions for PE-II and PCC Students
We are happy to inform our student community that the Council has considered the case of PE-II students especially in order to mitigate their hardship vis-à-vis their joining the CA course through PCC/IPCC route. PEII students having joined the course through all streams can now commence articled training in case they have passed any of the groups of PE-II examination instead of earlier requirement of passing both the groups. They will also be eligible to appear in the Final Examination during the last 12 months of articled training. In addition, such students shall be exempted from undergoing the Orientation Programme, on switching over to IPC course. Further, they shall not be charged any fee for switching over to IPC course, except Rs. 1,500 to cover the cost of study material and administrative charges, instead of Rs.4,000 at present.
With a view to bring overall uniformity, students registered for Professional Competency Course (PCC) shall now be eligible to appear in the Final Examination during the last six months of the three and a half year period of articled training as against the earlier requirement of appearing in the Final Examination after completion of articled training. Further realising the difficulties faced by the students to complete the Information Technology Training (ITT) and Orientation Programme before appearing at the examination, it has been decided that all students would now be permitted to submit proof of their successful completion of ITT to the Examination Section before the commencement of the article training, instead of earlier requirement of submitting the said proof before appearing in the examination. However, this would not be applicable to the PCC students. However, it has been observed that many students are withdrawing their registration from ITT centres and they wish to complete the ITT and Orientation Programme before the commencement of the article training. In our opinion, all such students are advised to undergo ITT and Orientation Programme as early as possible, because this wouldn’t only help them in solving the questions posed in examinations in the IT paper but also release the pressure on the training centres.
We have also decided that students with a permanent disability of 50 per cent or more and fulfilling the prescribed guidelines shall be exempted from the payment of fees for undergoing Orientation Programme and they shall neither be required to attend the course nor to pass the special test of three hours.
We organised a joint meeting of the Examination Committee and faculty of the Board of Studies, wherein certain student-friendly decisions were taken. It was decided to host the suggested answers to the questions set in examinations within 25–30 days of the respective examinations. Further, it was decided that the study material should be made more application-oriented and case studies be included in various subjects like Accounting and Strategic Manegement. Steps are also being taken to present a more responsive and transparent examination system in students’ interests.
We would like to thank the Council - particularly ICAI Secretary Shri T. Karthikeayn, Board of Studies Chairman CA. Vinod Jain and Board of Studies Director Shri Vijay Kapur - for playing a strategic role in the preparation and execution of the above-said decisions.
This is also to inform that we are planning to propose a mega international conference in the third week of January 2011 in New Delhi. Exact dates will be announced later. We appeal to our professional fraternity to join in large number and make this a successful event.
Let us recall what the Corporate Affairs Minister Shri Salman Khurshid had said on July 1 this year: Bring a change in your policy and bring at least 33 per cent women power before a lady joins in my position. Although uttered in humour, we cannot ignore its underlying serious implications on our profession and society. The truth cannot be kept aside. First educator of our family has to be an educated and empowered person. It is quite desirable that women running their homes and managing their accounts for ages must get a respectable share in the profession. Gender equality is a serious concern – both before profession and society. A better show of the female candidates in the examinations of PE II, PCE and IPCE held in 2010 is a sign of good hope in this direction. We appreciate this leap towards equality and sincerely wish the community success in its true and justified endeavours. Change in tradition, if constructive and positive, is never a distortion, and we should always welcome such a change.
Weather, a symbol of change, is a justified metaphor for life too. Weather may be good or bad and nothing much could be done about this. Nowadays, it is raining day and night cats and dogs in the capital. American poet and columnist J. M. L. Hughes says: Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. We would like to wish everybody a happy rainy season with sound health.Best Wishes
CA. AMARJIT CHOPRA
August 27, 2010