November 2018

From the President

Sunil Gabhawalla
Chartered Accounant

Dear Members

It’s that time of the year when the Nation celebrates the “Festival of Lights”. On occasions like this, it is also time to revisit our ancient scriptures of wisdom and apply them in the current context of our profession. To my mind, of the many incidents in the “Ramayana”, a few specific incidents clearly charted the story.

One such incident is that of King Dasarath granting three boons to Kaikeyi since she saved his life. Kaikeyi deferred the exercise of these ‘boons’ to a later point of time, much to the peril of the entire generation. As accountants, we can easily correlate this with the concepts of ‘contingent liabilities’ and ‘unforeseen risk’. As assurance professionals, do we somewhere ‘grant’ or ‘communicate’ an assurance without fully realizing or foreseeing the possible consequences thereof? While the statutorily prescribed GST Audit Report primarily anchors itself around reconciliation, the Technical Guide suggests a much larger involvement / expectations from the GST Auditors. As auditors we understand that the Technical Guide does not bind the members. Will all stakeholders clearly understand this? Is any purpose served by suggesting open ended assurances? Let us hope and pray that more deliberations are undertaken before the Technical Guide transitions itself into a Guidance Note.

The eventual exercise of the boons, the principle one being the preference of Prince Bharat over Prince Rama as a successor to the throne really brings to the fore the complex and conflicting interplays in succession, especially to positions of leadership. As the Central and Regional Council Elections come nearer, the incident would remind our members of the implications of prioritizing any parameter other than merit in the selection process of an able leader to represent the profession.

The “Golden Deer” episode clearly suggests the need for professional skeptism especially in situations where things appear too good to be true. Be it investment or professional services, if the returns or compensation exceed the value proposition, it is likely that we are entering the “Golden Deer” trap.  

The “Sanjeevani” episode is one more interesting example. The inability of Hanuman to identify the correct herb resulted in the entire mountain being mythically transported. When we train our juniors, do we make mistakes of not clearly communicating our expectations and thereby resulting in getting general answers from which we have to sift the specific answers that we want?

The last incident that I would like to touch upon is that of the washerman, whose comments resulted in the exile of Seetaji. One can also couple this incident with the Manthara incident and can clearly make out the need to drive decisions based on inherent and coherent substance rather than mere external narratives. While debates and alternative arguments (including social media and internet sources) help mould the opinion, they may not always be the right approaches.

For many professionals, October marked the end of a very busy season. It is now time to relax and spend time with your families and enjoy the festivities. Such periodic breaks help a person to re-energise and strategise for the future. At the Society, a series of events have been planned in the next few months to help the members develop relevant technical skills and reflect on the future course of their careers.

One such innovative programme is the 52nd Residential Refresher Course. While the time for early bird incentive has already expired, it is better to enrol late than never. This time, the RRC is at a luxurious venue of ITC Mughal in the historic city of Agra. Packed with innovative formats, relevant topics and best faculties, this RRC promises to be an experience of a lifetime. It has a full day devoted to practice management sessions where members can collectively reflect on the future of the profession. The detailed announcement is available on the website and I would urge the members to enrol at the earliest to avoid disappointment.

On 31st October, the Prime Minister dedicated the “Statue of Unity” as a tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. At 182 metres, the Statue is the tallest in the world and was constructed in a very short time frame of 33 months. Many of us see our house renovation projects span across more than 6-8 months! It is perhaps this efficiency and many more structural reforms like this which prompted the World Bank to improve the ease of doing business rankings from 100 in 2017 to 77 in 2018.

These are indeed times of confusion. On one hand we see such massive improvements in rankings and periodic revalidations from international agencies of the correctness and the decisiveness of the reforms, while on the other, we see murmurs of hazy implementation and biased approaches. What is the correct way forward? As highlighted in the earlier anecdote of the washerman and Manthara, each of us will have to find the answers from within.

Well, in the meantime, do celebrate the festivals. Wish you a very happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year.

Yours truly

 

Sunil Gabhawalla

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