As we stand at the gateway of spring and draw close to the conclusion of the Council Year 2023- 24, let’s take a moment to reminiscence the extraordinary path of professionalism and success we have traversed during the year. As the 71st President of my beloved alma mater, being able to lead the largest global accountancy body has been a great learning and humbling experience. Reflecting upon the journey at the helm of the profession, which commenced as the Vice-President of this prestigious organisation in 2022-23 and progressed to the esteemed position of the President, the period has been characterized by both professional excellence and personal fulfilment. Within this course of time, I have drawn wisdom from the experiences and enthusiasm of the members and students across the country and abroad. Reinforcing my commitment to continuous evolution, innovation, and excellence in fulfilling my responsibilities towards the profession is eloquently encapsulated in the famous quote of Zig Ziglar, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
The journey emanated with the vision of ‘Think Global, Act Noble, and Always be Vocal for Local,’ to propel the Indian economy and profession to greater heights in the Amritkaal by 2047. The achievements and progress made during the year owes its success to the tireless and constant support of the Council, colleagues from regional councils, branches, study chapters, study circles, foreign chapters, and representative offices. Each of you have played a pivotal role in this journey. Looking back, I am fortunate to have had an incredible team of Council colleagues and ICAI officials. Guided by the capable and dedicated support of ICAI Vice President CA. Ranjeet Kumar Agarwal, the Institute has charted a new path of success.
As India is moving ahead on the path to be Atmanirbhar, it is imperative for ICAI as a progressive partner in nation building to work in full alignment and collaboration with the government and stakeholders. Our emphasis has been on implementing multifaceted strategies to support the economic progress and establish a strong foundation for the future, especially during Amritkaal. This illustrious institution celebrating ‘75 Years of Trust’, through its various initiatives, strives to support diverse stakeholders, foster economic growth, and elevate the accounting profession, while working harmoniously towards achieving our overarching mission of becoming the Vishwaguru.
Towards bolstering India’s financial landscape globally, ICAI has entered MoUs with the GIFT City (Gujarat International Finance Tec-City Ltd.) and IFSCA (International Financial Services Centres Authority), to promote financial excellence and enhance professional skill sets related to International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) business and regulations. I had the privilege to meet our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in an interactive meeting convened at IFSCA GIFT City wherein ICAI assured its support and made various suggestions on promoting export of services and establishing India as a preferred destination for Accounting and Financial services globally. Further, with a view to promote the Indian economy globally and the export of accountancy services from India, ICAI conducted the Ambassadors Meet and Trade Officers Conclave, as well as MoUs were renewed with Invest India and the Export Promotion Council for EOU & SEZ (EPCES) aimed to encourage sustainable economic growth and promote India as an investment friendly destination. Further, in advancing India’s economic growth narrative, ICAI assumed the esteemed role of a Prime Partner in collaboration with the B20 dialogue, signifying our commitment towards elevating India globally.
In pursuit of a self-reliant India, the ICAI and its constituents are actively contributing for building the future economy by infusing it with an entrepreneurial spirit. Initiatives aligned with the ‘Start up India’ such as the magnificent Startup Sphere held in Mumbai, in the presence of Former Hon’ble President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind, and initiatives like ICAI Startup Yatra that includes the ICAI Startup Manthan and ICAI Startup Samvad programs, ICAI Start-Up Gateway aim to coordinate, synergize, and leverage innovation and entrepreneurship, facilitating creation of ideas and inventions for societal benefit. Further, MoUs were signed for Capacity Building with the Government of Kerala, and Odisha for the empowerment of MSME ecosystem, and AIC-Mahamana Foundation, IM BHU and AIC – Nalanda Institute of Technology Foundation, Odisha for Startups through ICAI Gateway.
Commemorating its 75th year, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) engaged in a series of significant initiatives. Under the theme ‘75 Years of Trust,’ a commemorative logo of the Institute was unveiled at the CA Day celebration in the august presence of the Hon’ble President of India Smt. Draupadi Murmu on 75th CA Day who applauded CAs for their instrumental role in shaping the financial landscape of the country and addressed them as the “Pillars of Economic Governance”. Demonstrating the ‘India First Approach,’ a new CA India Logo was unveiled by the Hon’ble Vice President of India Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar during GloPAC. As a part of the milestone celebrations, ICAI organized 100 Income Tax Clinics nationwide to promote compliance on taxation matters. Additionally, aligning with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)-5 for gender equality, ICAI conducted the inaugural CA Women Excellence Awards, recognizing the outstanding contributions of women members and signed a Statement of Intent (SOI) to support NITI Aayog’s Women Entrepreneurship Platform as its commitment to women empowerment.
In this transformative period of economic growth, we are dedicatedly supporting the Government in formulating impactful policies, enhancing capacity, and implementing vital reforms. Our goal is to contribute to economic development and fulfil social objectives that promote public interest. Accordingly, ICAI has entered into a MoU with the O/o C&AG of India to collaborate on accounting and auditing issues and strengthen the accountability mechanism for good governance in local Self-Governments. As part of the MoU, ICAI ARF shall be jointly conducting a specialised Course for Accountants of Panchayats and Municipal Bodies. Furthermore, we are also supporting the O/o C&AG of India in adaption of cash basis IPSAS in Government Accounts and assisting MoHUA to enhance the quality of Financial Statements of Urban Local Bodies being uploaded on the City Finance Portal.
Similarly, we are working with various Central & State Governments, local bodies, and institutions in building their Competency and Capacity for strengthening Governance at grass root level by providing training to officials in vernacular language on the latest accounting tools and practices including accrual accounting namely Urban Development Directorate, Uttarakhand, Directorate of Municipal Administration, Maharashtra and Nagaland, Commissioner of Treasuries and Accounts, Govt. of Tamil Nadu, and Commissionerate of Rural Development, Gujarat. Further, supporting the Government in GST capacity building, the institute signed MoUs with the Department of State Taxes, Goa in the august presence of Hon’ble Chief Minister, Goa Shri Pramod Sawant and with Department of State Taxes, Jammu & Kashmir in the august presence of Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor Shri Manoj Sinha, besides conducting programmes in 7 states imparting training on GST to more than 1000 government officers.
In the pursuit of inspiring trust and confidence in the realm of e-governance and technological advancements, ICAI is actively supporting the Ministry of Corporate Affairs in the smooth functioning and implementation of the MCA 21 V3 Portal, in organizing stakeholder meetings nationwide. The ICAI introduced various utilities to augment audit quality at the firm level, including tools for bank branch audit, utilities for determination of materiality, and review and monitoring tools for compliance with auditing standards. Furthermore, starting from July 1, 2023, the Forensic Accounting and Investigation Standards have become mandatory to be followed on forensic assignments.
In our commitment to strengthen regulatory and reporting frameworks, ICAI has undertaken significant measures to safeguard public interest. Notably, the Board of Discipline/Disciplinary Committees during the current year conducted 134 meetings, addressing 420 PFOs and concluding hearings in 329 cases, with 84 cases resulting in punitive actions. Furthermore, all cases under the old Disciplinary Mechanism (under section 21D) have been heard and concluded, except those pending in competent courts. Moreover, the UDIN (Unique Document Identification Number) a powerful tool, continues to empower government institutions, receiving accolades from State Governments like Assam, West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Odisha as a robust means to verify document authenticity and has therefore elicited interest from global institutions.
In our strategy towards globalising the profession, the 21st edition of the World Congress of Accountants (WCOA) was organised in Mumbai in November 2022. Moving forward in our drive to establish and promote brand ‘CA India’, the First ever Global Professional Accountants Convention (GloPAC) was organised in Gandhinagar, Gujarat which was a resounding success bringing together nearly 4400 professionals, experts, and thought leaders from over 25 countries around the world to deliberate on the future of the accountancy profession.
As the economies today are getting interconnected, trade and transactions know no borders, it is imperative that we build a profession which is globally accredited, and it gives me immense satisfaction to note that the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) has recognised ICAI qualification to become an associate member of ISCA, thereby opening new avenues for the professionals. Moreover, for fostering mutual collaboration MoUs were renewed with ICAEW and entered into with CA Maldives. In a bid to broaden ICAI’s global presence, 2 new Representative Offices were opened in The Netherlands (Rotterdam) and USA (Kansas). Additionally, ICAI inaugurated six chapters bringing the global footprint to 50 Chapters and 31 Representative Offices in 81 cities across 47 countries.
As a part of our initiative to enhance the brand ‘CA India’ in the African region, ICAI partnered with Pan- African Federation of Accountants (PAFA) for the 7th Africa Congress of Accountants (ACOA), and Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) for their International Conference.
In recent years, ICAI has been a frontrunner in advocating sustainable economic development and fortifying sustainability reporting in India. The launch of the Sustainability Reporting Maturity Model (SRMM) Version 2.0 facilitates benchmarking for Indian corporates, empowering our members to enhance organizations’ sustainability readiness. ICAI’s noteworthy sustainability initiatives were acknowledged globally as ICAI received the Prestigious ISAR UNCTAD award at the World Investment Forum 2023 and the Green Ribbon Champion Awards from Network18 for its outstanding efforts in the realm of sustainability.
To address itself to the new realities, and with a view to ensure ‘competitive edge’ for the future professionals and effectively meeting the growing societal demands, Vision exercise - 2049 in association with IIM Ahmedabad is under progress. Continuing to enhance the skills and enriching knowledge of members, new Certificate Courses on Real Estate – Laws & Regulations, FEMA, Overseas Outsourcing Services and Project Financing were launched, and course on CSR and Impact Assessment was revamped. Moreover, to promote research, innovation and recognising excellence, ICAI International Research Awards and two editions of 40 under 40 CA Business Leaders Awards were conducted.
The New Scheme of Education and Training for the Chartered Accountancy course was launched in the esteemed presence of Chief Guest Hon’ble President of India, Smt. Droupadi Murmu, on the 75th CA Day on July 1, 2023. The new curriculum is aligned with the technology-enabled learning approach endorsed by the NEP, 2020, with an emphasis on Ethics and Technology. A major milestone and moment of pride is the recognition of ICAI’s efforts towards inspiring young minds, ICAI was inducted into the Guinness World Record for conducting the ‘Largest Accounting Lesson’ ever held at a single location in the world.
Being at the forefront of Commerce education, we have consistently endeavoured to empower the students and it is heartening to note that 56 MoUs were entered with universities towards developing commerce and accountancy education in India. Supporting and motivating students, ICAI awarded scholarships to more than 10,000 students under various categories till 08th January 2024. Providing best services to our students, the ICAI introduced Smart Classrooms with cutting-edge technology in all Regional Councils and Branches and Revised New Additional Reading Room Policy.
Throughout the year, the Institute has achieved notable milestones exploring new frontiers to meet the expectations of various stakeholders. The noteworthy accomplishments of the Institute for the year 2023-24 are detailed separately in this Journal.
In my last communication from this desk, let’s have a look at some of the recent important events that have transpired since our last dialogue.
It gives me immense pleasure to share that ICAI national network of branches now expanded to 174 branches with approval of 3 new branches in Darbhanga, Neemuch & Muzaffarpur. During the period, we have inaugurated two new branches Mandsaur and Rajsamand, an additional reading room for students in Rohtak, laid the foundation stone of the new Jalandhar branch building and inaugurated the Ozone Park in Amritsar.
Je serai toujours là – I will always be there
I would be relinquishing my office shortly and, at this juncture, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my esteemed Council colleagues, Government nominees and Past Presidents in the Council, for their guidance and co-operation extended to me and the profession throughout the term of my office. I must make a special mention to particularly, my Vice President, CA. Ranjeet Kumar Agarwal who has given me immense support throughout the year in all endeavours for the betterment and development of the profession. I am also thankful to Hon’ble Ministers, Secretaries, and Officers of various Ministries for their invaluable support and guidance rendered to the Institute in the past year.
Reflecting on the past year as the representative of our esteemed profession and my term in Council, I am truly humbled by the warm and friendly reception I received wherever I went. My heartfelt gratitude to all the incredible friends, who made this journey memorable. I extend a special thanks to all dedicated officials of the institute for their commitment and sincere efforts in turning Ambitions into Actions, particularly CA. (Dr.) Jai Kumar Batra, Secretary, ICAI. As I cherish and enjoy the glory of my journey, turning dreams into deeds, it has only and only been possible with the blessings of the Almighty, my mentors, and my pillars of strength my family. I have worn the degree of ICAI and revered insignia of trust ‘CA’ as a badge of honour. As I glance back upon the remarkable path I’ve traversed with the ICAI, I can’t help but feel a profound familial pride and an enduring spirit of excellence – being part of a legacy that unfolded from my grandfather standing All India First in the ‘First Examination’ of ICAI in 1949 to witnessing my father leading the profession in 2007.
In this landmark 75th year, witnessing our Institute emerge as the largest and a global force fills me with pride. With the constant pursuit of excellence, I am confident that we will continue our ascent to new heights of glory.
While my official role may conclude, our connections and shared endeavours will last forever and in my last communiqué I would once again like to reiterate what I always say that we must all believe that ‘I am the “I” in ICAI’. As I conclude, I would like to pen down the quote of Ralph Waldo Emerson “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Though my tenure as the President of this coveted Institute comes to an end, I will continue to engage and contribute to my noble profession in every possible manner. Au revoir !!
Jai Hind, Jai ICAI.