It is just about twenty days since we all celebrated the birth date of Shri Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi known as Mahatma Gandhi to many.
When Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi elucidated the seven social sins- never would he have dreamt that those very sins would be the rules for the generation after his life time.
Shall list three of the seven (not in any order)
Wealth without Work
Knowledge without Character
Commerce without morality
The degradation of morals/ethics is happening at a rapid clip- that is a good reason about which one has to rue.
What is moral may differ, but ethics have more clear definition. Can there be a situation where in two people in the same occupation & industry have two set of principally ‘correct’ ethics- rare will be the occurrence. But then as old timers say- exception proves the rule.
In the recent past, a number of incidents speak of double standards.
Chartered Accountants are rare in number, students who pursue that course have to pass 15 papers divided into two groups each at the Intermediate as well as the final examination stage.
Presently one can attempt the Common Proficiency Test (CPT) after his 10 +2 or recently there is a ‘Direct Entry Scheme’ where one can enroll after graduation. At the intermediate stage a student has seven papers divided into two groups- Group one has four papers and group two has three papers. Also in each group the aggregate (of marks) should be fifty percent. When a student clears the group one, he is eligible to start practical training under a Chartered Accountant. This training period is of three year duration, when a student has completed two and half years of his training, he becomes eligible to write the final examination.(provided he has cleared group two of the intermediate stage). During the phase of the practical training, the student is termed as ‘articled clerk’ and is paid an amount for the work he carries out under the direction of the Chartered Accountant. Here in the Chartered Accountant is also referred to as “principal”.Maximum number of ‘articled clerks’ which a Chartered Accountant can have under him is stipulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants Of India (ICAI). ICAI has also stipulated what is the minimum amount to be paid to the articled clerks for their services every month.
The chartered accountant(s) have their day/schedule packed with client meetings, finalization, representation at the office of the statutory body(ies). It is here the value of the articled clerk is of relevance. The articled clerks are assigned jobs starting with vouching of the clients “vouchers”- though many articled clerks see this an art of practicing how to put a tick mark. The seniors (when new set of articled clerks join, the existing articled clerks don the tag : seniors) in the Principals office with an authority of having done that till this new student walked in say check the date, check the bill & so on. Kindly remember that the articled clerk has in syllabus one paper of one hundred marks named Auditing & Assurance where in the student has to learn about vouching among many other topics including the standards of auditing in vogue. As months roll over the articled clerks get equipped to do tax audit, file e returns and other tasks which are assigned to them by the ‘principal’.
The articled clerks have an important role to play for they assume a role wherein they have to act as if his/her principal is doing the work and report the work done and seek advice of the “principal”.
Principal would have time to do a quick survey of the work done by articled clerk before he will be signing the documents/ audit report (based on the work done by ‘articled clerks’).
Errors by ‘articled clerk’ can be damaging to the Principal due to the bad publicity.
The students, who qualify the final examination conducted by the ICAI, are the future chartered accountants. The student in group one at the Intermediate stage has a paper of one hundred marks termed Business Laws, Ethics and communication. From the exam point of view, there are questions of 60marks from the various laws stipulated in the syllabus and questions for the remaining 40 marks is from the topics covered under ethics and communication. The meaning of ethics and morals are clearly defined and also what is ethical and unethical in many industries have been dealt with briefly.
Students pursuing the chartered accountancy course compare themselves with students pursuing other courses and rue their fate. Articled Clerks have a main worry- studies plus timely completion of the work assigned to them (for they are to preparing to write what many feel is the toughest exam in India).
Some feel that they miss what other students “enjoy”- bunk classes and go for movies. They can’t do that as they are ‘articled’. Kindly note articles can take leave, but still articled clerks have this resentment.
As I said Ethics is a part of the syllabus.
Narration below did happen in real life.
As is norm- when cat is not there, mice will play.
When ‘Principal’ is around, all articled wonders will be busy debiting, crediting, vouching, auditing and filing. The minute Sir leaves office compound, gone are the debits and credits- it switches to various ‘apps’ on the hand held devices … all ok. (any human as a student would have done this, more so when he is at that point of teenage)
One ‘principal’ was rather bemused as to what was taking too much memory of his office PC’s hard disk. On scanning it was found there were 3 huge (MB) files — “articled clerk” had downloaded mp3 files- speeches by Shri Abdul Nassar Madani.(then in prison- under trial).
When asked about it, unashamed the student retorted as if someone had questioned his roots. All the ethics studied in group one of the intermediate stage is not to be forgotten once you leave the exam hall.
I shall digress, when I say there were 3 W’s of West Indies Cricket- Old timers would know- Walcott, Clyde; Worrell, Frank & Weekes, Everton. They plundered any bowling attack to shreds. Old timers speak in awe of the magnificent double at Eden gardens, Kolkatta by Weekes.
Now the youth have one W as the guiding force- Wealth. It is here that we miss the whole point of education. They feel that they can plunder all and sundry using this W.
No amount of teaching can change this.
There are two more streams of education which can be pursued on distance education mode and enable one to reach higher echelons in the corporate world or put up an individual practice namely- The Company Secretary and the Cost Accountant. (ICSI for Company Secertary & ICMAI for Cost accountants) There is a recent notification that Company Secretary should be treated as CFO. Currently only the chartered accountant is authorized to sign the tax audit report.(in India)
Chartered Accountants feel they are special it is but natural that the articled clerks will imbibe this very attitude.
Here I have point to say- when any human bleeds- only blood in red flows there is no blue blood till date for homo sapiens.
How long will it take for us to realize that education is to inculcate in us those values that which Mahatma says, but here all around we have the youth going ‘ante’- they have imbibed the sins.
My mind races back about little more than a score of years, when was lucky to hear the then CEC Shri T N Seshan speak. One line in that speech echoes in my ears till date— Let us all go to Porabandar, look towards to east and pray(to the Almighty) – LET THERE BE A MAHATAMA AGAIN