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My Dear Professional Colleagues,

United in trust and driven by excellence, ICAI empowers the future financial architects and leaders for a prosperous ‘Viksit Bharat,’ forging a financially robust and progressive nation.

President, ICAI

Chartered Accountant as a Profession

1st July, 2024, a moment of joy and pride, as our profession and institute completes its magnificent and phenomenal journey of 75 years. This journey of trust and excellence honours our indomitable spirit and our purposeful, meaningful, and credible existence, commemorating the significant contributions of ICAI and the Indian accounting profession in service of the nation since our inception.

With our commitment and perseverance in turning challenges into opportunities, ICAI’s narrative resonates with professional excellence and resilience. Over the years, we have consistently met the expectations and vision set forth by the founding fathers of the Indian Constitution, who entrusted autonomy to our profession through the enactment of Chartered Accountants Act, 1949. This Act, which preceded the adoption of the Constitution itself, highlights the profound significance of our role as guardians of transparency and integrity of the economic landscape of the country.

At this important occasion, I would like to recall the speech of Mr. K. C. Neogy, the then Minister for Commerce, which was delivered at the meeting of the first Council held at New Delhi on 15th August 1949 in which he said that, “it was appropriate that a great and important profession in the country was launching upon a career of autonomy on Independence Day” and hoped that the “Council would maintain a level of professional conduct and professional standards which would bring resounding glory not only to the profession but to the country as well.”

The Journey towards Excellence, Independence and Integrity begins with the inspiration drawn from ICAI Emblem, suggested by Shri Aurobindo with Garuda in the centre and inscribed below. The emblem symbolizes the qualities of a Garuda and a Chartered Accountant i.e., being fearless, decisive, strong, innovative and ability to face challenges.

Remarkable Progress of the Profession

Over the past 75 years, ICAI has undergone a transformative journey in every dimension imaginable- nationally and internationally, in network expansion, stakeholder engagement, infrastructure development, avenues explored, adoption of cutting-edge technology, operations of ICAI, recognized globally as a premier educator, vital partner in nation-building, and pillar of corporate governance.

Starting with just 1,700 members and 259 students, today ICAI stands tall as the world’s largest accountancy body with over 400,000 members and more than 900,000 students and in this membership base, almost every third CA in India is a woman, showcasing the increasing participation of women in the financial sector. Starting from a rented office in New Delhi, ICAI has expanded into a strong network of 5 Regional Councils and 176 Branches across India, along with a global footprint of 50 Overseas Chapters and 31 Representative Offices spread in 81 cities across 47 countries.

Rise of the Profession – Journey of Trust and Excellence

ICAI’s history is a tale of relentless pursuit of excellence. To enhance its leadership position in the accounting world, ICAI established a Research Committee in 1957, with an aim to strengthen research activities spanning a broad-spectrum encompassing accounting, assurance, taxation, finance, and technology. ICAI’s constant research inputs have been contributing towards shaping government policies. In 1999, ICAI’s creation of the Accounting Research Foundation (ARF) paved the way for applied research, assisting certain Municipal Corporations and Indian Railways in transitioning to accrual-based accounting.

The institute has been at the forefront of building high quality financial reporting framework enhancing the transparency, reliability, and comparability of financial statements. Over the years the Institute has supported the development of standards adhering to globally recognized practices. As on date the ICAI, has issued 27 Accounting Standards, 39 IND-AS, 46 Engagement and Quality Standards, 8 Valuations Standards, 22 Internal Auditing Standards inspiring investor confidence and attracting global investments in the country. With continuous revision and updation of these standards, ICAI ensures that the CAs are well-equipped to navigate and effectively serve the emerging financial landscape.

ICAI’s commitment to quality and transparency was further reinforced with the establishment of the Peer Review Board (PRB) and the Financial Reporting Review Board (FRRB) in 2002. These initiatives have significantly enhanced investor confidence and improve financial reporting practices. To keep up with the rapidly changing world, Continuing Professional Education (CPE) became mandatory for members in 2002-2003, ensuring that CAs stay updated and competent.

Over the last 75 years the composition, size and scale of the Profession as far as Practicing Chartered Accountants are concerned has gone significant changes total 1,50,000 Practicing Chartered Accountants are there out of 4 Lakhs Chartered Accountants, there are approx. 96,000 CA Firms which also comprise of 75,000 Proprietorship Firms and other Partnership Firm ranging from 2 Partners to 100 Partners. The ICAI is supporting and assisting these Proprietorship Firms for valuation and succession planning and to build the capacity of Partnership Firms through Audit and Digital Tools. A Committee for Aggregation of CA Firms has been constituted this year to support, build and utilise the synergy and resources of these firms, with time some of these firms can come up to Global Stage as global Indian Accounting Firms.

In 2023, ICAI launched a New Scheme of Education and Training, incorporating AI and Blockchain in line with NEP 2020. Complete digitalization of the evaluation process in ICAI Examinations reflects a forward-thinking approach to efficiency and transparency. To align with global best practices and increase opportunities, ICAI will now hold Intermediate & Foundation exams thrice a year: January, May and September. ICAI’s educational approach merges holistic learning with rigorous examination standards. The examination system of ICAI is very robust and one of the best in the country. This robust system has earned recognition from the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India on multiple occasions.

Profession for Global Economy

As a founding member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), ICAI has been instrumental in contributing towards global accountancy reforms, with its international presence beginning with the opening of its first chapter in Doha in 1981 and resulting in 50 Overseas Chapters and 31 Representative Offices spread in 81 cities across 47 countries.

This global community attracts foreign investment to India and helps Indian industries identify international opportunities, aiding in making India Aatmanirbhar.

Promoting global mobility for its members through Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA) with 8 international accounting bodies and unilateral recognition in various countries, it also provides technical cooperation to emerging nations and has technical cooperation agreements with 16 global bodies.

The Institute has been tirelessly working towards establishing India into a Global Accounting & Financial Services Hub and promoting export of accounting services globally has entered MoUs with GIFT City, IFSCA, Export Promotion Council for EOUs & SEZs (EPCES), Service export Promotion Council (SEPC) and Invest India.

Hosting the World Congress of Accountants (WCOA) in 2022 in India for the first time in 118 years of its history, was a historic achievement for ICAI, further solidifying its status as a global leader in the accounting profession.With its involvement in the B20 dialogue during India’s G20 Presidency in 2023, ICAI continues to influence global policy.

Partnering Nation Development

ICAI has been a driving force behind significant accounting reforms by playing a crucial role in the implementation of GST in 2017.With over 11,000 programs, conferences and workshops, numerous publications published, over 6,500 capacity-building programs for government officials, ICAI has been instrumental in educating and preparing the nation for these transformative changes.

Its efforts to support the Aatmanirbhar Bharat mission include empowering MSMEs and launching the Financial and Tax Literacy Drive in 12 vernacular languages. Further, to strengthen financial accountability and governance at the grassroots level, ICAI and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (C&AG) launched a Certificate Course for accountants towards fulfilling the need of skilled accountants in 2.6 lakh Panchayats and Municipal Bodies.

Our profession is directly engaged in supporting MSMEs in becoming competitive for global markets and ensuring economic growth. The Institute through its various initiatives like MSME Yatra, MSME SETU, MSME Exchange offering guidance on financial management, compliance, and access to finance, empowering MSMEs to thrive and contribute significantly to employment generation and economic diversification. This support is crucial in fostering entrepreneurship, promoting innovation, and bolstering the resilience of our economy. For our initiative of MSME Yatra and MSME SETU we are recognized by Asia Book of Records for covering 75 cities in 75 days.

Profession for the New Age

The introduction of the Unique Document Identification Number (UDIN) in 2019 has greatly enhanced transparency in financial reporting. With over 68 million UDINs generated, providing valuable insights into economic activities across the country.

Establishment of the Sustainability Reporting Standards Board (SRSB) in 2020 showcased ICAI’s commitment to sustainable practices, receiving recognition from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. To enhance the sustainability practices in the country, ICAI developed the Sustainability Reporting Maturity Model Framework and issued 16 Social Audit Standards, making India the first country in the world to have social impact assessment standards. Recognizing the future of Non- Financial Reporting, the Institute of Social Auditors of India (ISAI), a Section 8 company, was established to develop independent, ethical, and world-class social auditors.

Further, towards strengthening the financial discipline in the country, ICAI became the first accounting body in the world to release the detailed Forensic Accounting and Investigation Standards (FAIS). To date, ICAI has released 20 FAIS for forensic auditors.

Driven by technology and inspired by the Prime Minister’s vision of Digital India, ICAI became the first global accounting body in the world to establish a Digital Accounting and Assurance Board to focus on integrating IT into the profession and education.

The initiatives like the Digital Learning Hub underscore ICAI commitment to providing continuous and updated learning opportunities to members and students, ensuring they stay updated in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. E-hearings and automation of the Disciplinary Directorate further highlight efforts towards expeditious disposal of cases. The launch of the e-Office not only enhances productivity but also streamlines operations within the institute. ICAI continues to innovate with a Committee on AI, aimed at leveraging the power of AI for the benefit of Members and Students and soon GPT platform will be launched to enhance operational efficiencies.

Vision for 2049

ICAI’s vision 2049 aligns with the national ambition, aiming to revolutionize the accounting profession and support India’s economic ascent. We are committed to nurture India into the talent factory for the world by embracing an online hybrid mode of education, training, and examination and creating World Class Centres of Excellence with a modern digital outlook to facilitate research, training, learning and build global leaders. Our focus on research and innovation in accounting, finance, and taxation will foster a future-ready profession equipped to handle the complexities of both public and private finance.

The institute’s dedication to eminence is evident in our adoption of case study-based learning, enhancing practical understanding and application. By assisting the government in policy formulation, ICAI will play a pivotal role in promoting tax compliance and boosting government tax collection, ensuring a disciplined financial environment.

Recognizing the vital role of MSMEs in our economy, ICAI will provide educated and skilled manpower, empowering these enterprises to thrive. Our vision includes establishing India as a Global Hub for the Accounting and Financial ecosystem, leveraging our capacity to set standards and assume a global leadership role in technology, sustainability, accounting and auditing standards.

As ICAI celebrates 75 Years of Trust, embracing the vision “DRISHTI”, it looks forward with the Vision Document 2049, aiming to inspire innovation and leadership. The vision document focuses on student and member development, enhancing regulatory and reporting frameworks, and adopting new technologies and aligning with the vision of a Viksit Bharat by 2047-by making India a $30 trillion economy. In an era where Data is the New Oil and Skill the New Currency, ICAI harmonizes both to create a sustainable financial ecosystem, impacting not just India but the global stage.

ICAI’s journey is a remarkable blend of tradition, innovation, and excellence. Standing tall as global powerhouse, ICAI continues to uphold the values of Excellence, Independence and Integrity, guiding the accounting profession into a future of growth and sustainability.

Join us as we celebrate 75 years of trust, dedication, and unparalleled achievements in the world of Chartered Accountancy & Inspiring India @100.

Happy Chartered Accountants Day!

Jai Hind, Jai ICAI !!

CA. Ranjeet Kumar Agarwal
President, ICAI
New Delhi, 30th June, 2024

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