Title :        Chartered Accountants
   Author : P.S. Prabhakar*  

The Chartered Accountancy profession is considered to be one of the very responsible and respected professions. We also profess to be one of the best self-regulatory bodies in the nation. As a community, we are expected to be the conscience keepers of the nation in terms of finance and economy. We are not only one lakh plus members but also one in a lakh in numbers, if you take the total population of the nation.

The strength of the membership in our profession was a mere 1,689 in 1950 and in a matter of 50 years, we have grown to about 1,08,000, nearly a sixty times increase. The profession

attracts some of the best minds in the nation. We form one of the most knowledgeable groups in the country. The examination system, we can proudly proclaim, is among the best in the country.

But, as a body, have we made our presence felt in the nation? True, public finance of our nation is largely guided by politics rather than economics - but is this any reason why we should remain complacent? How many of our brethren analyse the nation's balance sheet threadbare? How many of us know that out of the total revenue expenditure, interest payments alone account for whopping share of 34% and that today our total loans cross over Rs.14 lakh crore, a figure so fantastic that, if translated in simple terms would mean that every single citizen has a loan of Rs. 15,000 on his head and going by the present per capita income levels would never be able to get over the liability for several decades to come! Have we generated any public awareness or tried to build any public opinion on such state of affairs?

We are contented with the respectful submissions of routine Pre-Budget Memorandums and Post-Budget Memorandums. However, the Government hardly consults with our Institute in matters of public finance and cold-shoulders even the occasional good suggestions contained in these documents. We accept such things meekly. The Minister of Law is always a lawyer but has ever a Chartered Accountant risen to the position of Finance Minister of our country? Has our Institute ever made even a casual suggestion to the Government on this? Why not? Because we think it is too indecent to deliberate on contentious issues. And for all this, we are completely self sufficient in finance. We do not seek a single penny from Government's precious resources for running our Institute. Then, why cringe before them? There are several Government funded organisations who have the temerity to criticize the Government but we always only show respect.

Some day, I really would like to see headlines like "ICAI questions the wisdom of Kelker Commttee recommendations" or "ICAI sees a hidden agenda behind the proposed enhancement to 49% of FDI in insurance sector". Two reasons it won't happen. One we are petrified to say anything like it. Other is we don't get to know such things because we do not investigate. We have not seriously attempted to change with the times.

A few suggestions:

(a) The Institute must proactively assist the members in professional opportunities as well as in technical upgradations.

(b) The Institute must make its voice heard while it reacts to economic legislative changes in the country. It must act and not merely react.

(c) The Institute must find a methodology in educating the general public on matters of economy and finance and creating effective public opinion.

(d) The Institute also must proactively advise the industry on the importance of economic and fiscal legislations by organising seminars and workshops exclusively for them.

The institute's regulation of the profession must transcend beyond promulgation of Accounting standards and SAPs. It should regulate itself in a manner that there will be genuine pride among its members. It should be open to constructive criticism and genuine suggestions. Most of all, it should uphold its own motto of keeping awake at all times, even when others sleep. "Yaa Supteshu Jagriti".


*The author is a Chennai based Practising Fellow Member of the ICAI and an Associate Member of the Insurance Institute of India. For any clarification or discussion on this article, the author can be contacted at No. 38 (Old No. 23), Venkatesa Agraharam, Mylapore, Chennai - 600 004, Ph. : 2461252, 52108384; E-mail :


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