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INTERVIEW OF CA. AMARJIT CHOPRA ( EX PRESIDENT, ICAI ) BY CA. PRIYANKA SHARMA………

 

Hello Mr. Chopra,

Its gud to have u here with us today on this  prestigious occasion of CA Day, All of us are proud of you . First of all heartiest congratulations to you for all the success that u have got in life so far and wish that  you climb up more such ladders in future also…

Before starting  the interview , A very Happy CA Day to you and once again I would like to congratulate you for your success journey  on everybody’s behalf. Here are the few questions which we are really keen to know from u:-

Warm greetings on CA Day to the entire CA fraternity including students of this prestigious course.  I am thankful to CASANSAAR for having provided me this opportunity to share some of my experience and thoughts on this auspicious day.  I am sure that the CA profession has been the best, is the best and shall continue to be the best in the country. CA. Amarjit Chopra

How would you define your journey so far.. From a CA student to a Successful practicing CA to President of ICAI..???

So far as my journey is concerned, let me say that I was never an extraordinarily brilliant student, but was focussed and I qualified easily.  The practising career has not been a path of roses.  Like any new comer, I was faced with all kinds of difficulties.  But with the blessings of parents, elders and all well-wishers, I succeeded to rise to the top position of the profession.  I may say that being successful in practice does not mean making money.  It means gaining the respect and confidence of your seniors, peers and juniors.  I may dare to say that I have been lucky in this respect.  Now I rather feel that if I could, anyone can, because I started with a very humble background and still could make it.

It is always said that “NO PAIN NO GAIN” i.e., the bigger the success the bigger the sacrifice behind it, is that true with you also..??? Who wud u like to give the credit for ur successful journey so far..??

There is no doubt about it that the maxim, `no pain, no gain’ holds true for anyone including me.  I have been in public life for more than 26 years starting from 1985 when I contested for the Regional Council for the first time.  But as I said earlier, God has been very kind to me and I give credit to my parents, all elders, my well wishers, particularly to the electorate who kept on supporting me despite my weakness to speak bluntly.  I cannot forget the sacrifice that my wife and my children have made in this process, whom I could not give time when they required the most.

You are like a role model for all the CAs and CA students, what wud u like to advise them to be successful in their lives..???

 

I won’t say that I am the role model for many CAs and CA students, because that would mean that they will have to undergo lot of struggle.  If they look at me with some kind of respect, I am really grateful to them and I can only request them to stay focussed in whatever they do.  The reason behind my success has been my passion for the profession and I would only suggest to them that as was seen in 3-idiots, whatever you do with passion, you tend to excel in that field.

 

Looking back at your  tenure of service as a  President of ICAI, Are you satisfied with your work ? what you thought you could have done better ?

 

So far as my tenure as the President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is concerned, I can say that to a very large extent, I feel satisfied with whatever I did.  I never tried to resort to populist measures.  I tried to do what I thought was in the best interest of the profession in the long run, even if it required some kind of harsh decisions.  I am also aware of the fact that the journey of the President is only for one year and you can set certain things in motion and it is for the next team to carry on from that point.  Few of the examples that I can give are with regard to virtual classes project, diary report uploading by the students, improvement in the CPE system, measures to tackle the menace of tendering in the profession etc. are some such measures which can go a long way in improving the profession.  But then all these required constant and consistent effort in that direction.

In today’s scenario, lot of opportunities exist for CAs ..there are diversified fields into which a CA can build his/her career, But still it is thought that Practice is what a CA is actually made for..what do u have to say in this regard..???

There is no doubt about it that tremendous opportunities exist for CAs in diverse fields.  A CA can get into practice and/or employment depending upon the taste, but in practice one has to have lot of patience before one can really create a name for him/herself.  It may not be correct to say that CAs are meant only for practice.  Actually, a CA is meant to contribute to the economy in every sphere of life and wherever one can do it, in my opinion, it will be a great thing to do.

In today’s competitive world, when there are lot of CAs around, many young CAs are there who want to practice but drop their idea just bcoz of lack of clients and worrying about the initial struggle that they will have to do ..worrying about the uncertainty of income in this line…what do u think sir, that should ICAI do something for such young professionals ..who desire to start practice but drop their idea bcoz of above mentioned issues…???

The competition was always there.  The need is to understand that there cannot be any free lunches.  Life never gives anything easily.  You have to struggle for the same and the CA profession cannot be an exception to this.  To my mind, however, a new CA must take up a job with one of the senior firms for a period of 3-4 years to gain experience in practice.  Once he attains confidence to handle clients, fixing the fee and also understands the complexities of the profession, it is better either to get absorbed as partner in such a firm or to go out and to start independently.  The present training pattern followed in certain firms does not equip the articled students to a desired level whereby one can start practice straightaway.  This has been one of the major hindrances.  Joining the firm and then coming out will not only help in attaining confidence, but would also enable him to learn at the cost of others and yet develop as a fine professional.

As u know sir that CASANSAAR recently organized event on “ ROLE OF CHARTERED ACCOUNTANT S IN CONTROLLING BLACK MONEY” Where u also participated and solved lot of queries…Sir many people gave this idea that ICAI should organize seminars on this issue, branch discussions should be held, suggestions should be gathered from all and then it should be passed on to the governing body of ICAI to take some decision as to some strict steps that can be taken in this direction…what do u have to say about this suggestion sir..???

There is no doubt that black money is a big menace and needs to be tackled urgently.  It is already assuming serious proportions and needs to be tackled at the highest level.  The ICAI has been saying since last one and half years that it cannot be a mute spectator to the happening in the society and needs to create public awareness with regard to the ills of black money and also to create awareness as to how the same can be tackled.  Even in auditing, we have to undergo certain changes to make sure that the auditor does not remain merely a watchdog and if at all the role of a blood hound has to be assumed, the same should be done.  Probably, the reporting needs to undergo a change, rather than merely concentrating on true and fair view and one of the ways to handle is to bring in some very specific questions in CARO 2003.  To me, one of the reasons of generation of black money through corruption is the law of inheritance, howsoever harsh measure it may be, because, there may be very little incentive to be corrupt and make money.  Of course one can talk of voluntary disclosure scheme and so on, but then that would also mean that you put a premium on dishonest tax payers and put the honest tax payer to some kind of disadvantage.

Do you think results over the past 4-5 years have improved ? what was the main reason behind the same ?

So far as results are concerned, I think the results need to be more consistent and probably I feel that in the periods to come, the results would be on the lines which have been there barring certain aberrations.  The students need to improve their performance, reduce their dependence on coaching classes which have become a shop for making money.  I am not against coaching classes, but at the same time, the reasonableness of the fee must be ensured by such classes particularly when the number of students in a class is as high as 500-2000.  The purpose of the tutor should not be to fleece money from the students.  It should be to spread education and make money in the bargain.  I personally feel that the results have remained what these have been over the last 4-5 years.  Improvement in the results could also be linked with certain efforts of the Board of Studies particularly with regard to the revision of the study material etc.

What Do you think the quality of Young CAs is improved or at par or depleted as compared to CAs of say 20 year back ?

The quality of the Chartered Accountants cannot be gauged in terms of younger or older generation.  The younger generation has tremendous ability to study a large number of standards, both in accounting and auditing, various statements and guidance notes issued by ICAI, whereas the older generation has the benefit of experience.  I think the CAs whenever they were generated, were top class in their own fields.  So, I would not like to make this unnecessary comparison.  The need of the hour is that the seniors take the younger generation into its fold and the juniors respect the seniors for their experience.  In view of the IT developments, new areas of practice like FEMA, indirect taxes, etc., I am certain that older generation will have to fall back upon the younger generation.  The younger generation would be well advised to deliver by brilliance for whatever they have read and put it to use in the most effective manner.

Sir, recently ICAI started giving One day break between examinations and then started giving 15 minutes reading time also to students before exams, don’t u think that ICAI is actually playing with its standards..CA Course was best known for the utmost hard work required to clear these exams..but those things are really getting disappeared…the stress that earlier CAs faced during their examination time is not visible on today’s  CA students face..though it is as much difficult today also..All the CAs who cleared their exams earlier feel disappointed by this decision of ICAI…Sir, u are also from those old CAs  when there used to be no break at all between exams…Sir how do u view all this..n what do u have to say regarding all this..???

So far as giving a break of one day in the examinations is concerned, I would say that only when you pass out, you start feeling that it was not necessary.  Even when I was a student, I used to feel that why a holiday is not there in between the examinations.  I will not criticise this particular move, despite the fact that it has caused some problem with regard to finding adequate number of examination centres over such a long period of time, but in the interest of the students, this needs to be continued.  Professional or no professional examination, I personally feel that this reduces the stress of the students and may be continued with.  We are not here to test the ignorance or the capacity of the students to bear the stress, but we are here to judge them on the merit of what they know about the profession.

Sir it is somehow said and believed that CA has a big role in increasing corruption in society. As they are the ones who bribe the most in several govt. departments…This is somehow part and parcel of their routine work…without which a practicing CA cannot survive…if u don’t bribe either ur client wud suffer or he wud go to another CA who is ready to use these means and get his work done quickly…all this is like a cycle…Where do u see its end sir…and what wud u like to advise all the CAs to overcome this ...which will actually work in practical situation also…???

I do not think CAs have contributed to increasing corruption in the society.  There can be public perceptions.  There may be black sheep in every profession, but on the whole, the profession has contributed tremendously to the growth of the economy and must strive to continue to do that.  CAs also belong to the present society and cannot be immune to the developments in the society and sometimes the clients forces you to do certain thinks which you may not be willing to do.  But I have no doubt that the CAs have tried to maintain their excellence in the respective fields that they are into.

Do you think we as CAs can support Anna Hazare Ji on his " Anshan " on 16th Aug which he has declared on 21st June only ?

I will not like to comment on whether CAs can support Anna Hazare ji on his Anshan on 16th August.  I would only say that we need to build a strong and corruption free India and no single individual can have that responsibility.  We as CA fraternity must take a vow that we should do everything which can lead to prevention or reduction of corruption in the society.

Many new Laws are going to be enacted shortly..like DTC, GST, Complete IFRS convergence…How do u view all this..??? What influence do u think these laws wud have on Indian economy..?? And wud these laws be beneficial or detrimental to our CA Community..???

As regards various new laws coming in, in any dynamic society, it is bound to happen and with the changing times, the new laws are bound to be put in place and this will provide professional opportunities to many professionals including CAs.  So far as Indian economy is concerned, I think all these laws will have a positive effect on the Indian economy and as I have said already, it will provide professional opportunities to CAs both in service and practice.

Sir many CAs are there who are actually not fulfilling their duties properly,just signing audit reports without proper checking of documents, one of such case was seen in Satyam’s case..What do u think that what more should ICAI do to keep up the prestige of their profession ever..and to diagnose such professionals and teach them a lesson..???

As regards CAs not fulfilling their duties properly, I can only say that there is a strong disciplinary mechanism of ICAI in place.  We have also created a Financial Reporting Review Board and Peer Review Board.  Under the Chartered Accountants Act, a Quality Review Board is also in place.  We need to translate all these into action so as to spread the message that as a regulator, we mean business and we have the capacity to regulate the profession.  Satyam could be an aberration and accordingly I do not like to go deeper into that matter.  I would not like to dwell upon that in detail.  If there is any Conference or Seminar to deal with this subject, one would like to do it in that particular forum.  Despite the happening of Satyam, our own two Presidents were taken on the Board of Satyam and Maytas which bears testimony to the respect Chartered Accountants command in the society.  The authority which had appointed these people on the Boards of these two companies was the Ministry of Corporate Affairs itself.

At what level you think our Profession will be in 2020 ?

I am sure that we are at the top right now and we shall continue to be at the top at that time as well.  Rather, the number of professional opportunities are going to grow manifold depending upon how we seize the opportunities, particularly with LLP coming in, how best we can get into multi-disciplinary partnerships.  We need to be mobile and should have the inclination to move out of moffusil towns if need be, and reach out the professional opportunities because professional opportunities may not reach out to us at our place.

What more MOUs we can expect by ICAI ?

I am sure in the next few years, we will have a large number of MOUs with African countries and also probably within the SAARC region also.  One of the countries with whom we are already negotiating is New Zealand.

What do you think is the position of India in in terms of CAs compared with similar courses a)  with other countries in  Asia , b) compared with entire world ?

Let me say that CAs produced by ICAI cannot fail anywhere in any field.

Sir, what are your hobbies..?? Apart from your practice and passing time with your family what are your other favorite pastimes ???

I love playing cricket, badminton, table tennis, though at this age, playing cricket is little bit difficult.  I love watching TV particularly with regard to cricket matches and some value based serials and of course one would love to spend time at this stage with the family in the periods to come.  Having spent more than 25 years in public life, now is the time when one looks forward to be with the family and particularly as and when the grand children will be there to spend time with.  My favorite pastime is to read something on matters of professional interest and of course my first love in any case is to share my experience with the members and students through various seminars, conferences etc.

Sir, Nowadays popularity of face book is increasing like anything…it is viewed as a huge social networking site, an efficient means of communication , creating professional circle etc…What are your views regarding this..???

Yes, it is increasing undoubtedly and it is a very efficient means of communication provided it is not misused and we should also exercise some kind of restraint.

As can be seen from your profile on facebook ..it seems that u r a great photographer..is it..???

I won’t say that I am a great photographer, but I do love clicking on my mobile and my mobile has really given me tremendous opportunity to be seen as a photographer.  I love clicking nature and sometimes by sheer co-incidence, it turns out to be a good experience.

If u wud not be a CA then what else u wud be..??? i.e., what were your other areas of interest except finance, accounts etc etc…???

I think this is the most difficult question to answer.  I have become a CA by compulsion, not by passion.  Had I scored well in my higher secondary examination, I would have been an engineer, but then I would not have been in this website today.  Destiny has a tremendous role in everything.  So, I will not hazard a guess as to what I would have been if I had not become a Chartered Accountant.  Probably, I would have loved to be a cricketer in that case.

 What message would you like to give to the Whole CA Community on this occasion of CA Day..???

My only message to the CA fraternity is have passion for the profession and do what you feel is correct.  Even while being a coach, when one is appointed a referee, one has to do justice as a referee.  Similarly, I feel, with every client, whether we are the auditor or consultant, our role as the auditor has to be looked at in a different perspective and we have to be not only above board, but we have to be seen to be above board.

Last but not the least What do u have to say about CASANSAAR..we are trying our best to provide as much services to our members as we can..How do u rank our efforts..???

I can only say that you are doing a great job.  Continue to do so without any fear and also any motive.  Till the time any initiative is taken without a motive, it continues to fulfil the objective you started with and you continue to render a great service to the society.

Thanx for taking out ur precious time and coming here and talking to us. It was an honour for us to talk to you on this precious occasion of CA Day . Once again we wish u all the very best for ur future on behalf of the whole CASANSAAR.

I have really enjoyed the questions and at the same time, I must say that some of the questions were tough, few of them interesting and few of them really thought provoking.  I wish CASANSAAR all the success in the periods to come.  On the occasion of CA Day, my best wishes to the entire CA fraternity. 

Thank you.

CA. AMARJIT CHOPRA

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