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ICAI President’s New Year Message: Building a Better Future

ICAI President CA Prafulla P Chhajed

Hope the new year brings you joy and prosperity! Strengthening each person means strengthening the entire nation. This strength comes from a combination of swift economic growth and rapid social transformation, as wisely noted by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Former Prime Minister of India.

India’s economic expansion thrives on inventive and distinctive methods that overhaul conventional business norms, paving the path for contemporary advancement. Start-ups envisioned as crucial agents in the nation’s trajectory, serve as hubs for innovative thinking, generating employment, democratizing technology, and bolstering the capabilities of MSMEs and industries through dedicated research and development efforts. India’s start-up landscape boasts an inspiring growth narrative, projecting an expected annual growth of twelve to fifteen percent. This ongoing start-up revolution underscores India’s pivotal role in shaping the business landscape of tomorrow, emphasizing a remarkable fusion of heritage and contemporary innovation in its quest for economic prowess. 

The Indian start-up ecosystem transcends mere numbers; it embodies resilience, creativity, and forward-looking attitudes. These innovative enterprises stand at the forefront of transformation, cultivating self-sufficiency and inventive solutions. As India aims for an economy built on resilience and self-reliance, start-ups become catalysts, igniting the entrepreneurial ambitions of the youth and aligning with the nation’s aspirations. Collaboration among stakeholders—government bodies, regulatory authorities, industry influencers, and professional groups—is paramount in creating an environment that nurtures this entrepreneurial vigour, propelling India toward sustainable and inclusive growth.

Transitioning from the position of the third-largest start-up ecosystem to a hub of groundbreaking ideas demands unified effort, support, and strategic foresight. India recognizes the potential of start-ups to ignite an innovation-driven economic revival and growth, aligning with the vision of “One Earth, One Family, and One Future.” Taking a pioneering step, India champions the Startup-20 Engagement Group within the G20, aiming to actively shape an inclusive framework that strategically partners with G20 nations to bolster and endorse innovative start-ups.

The ICAI and its affiliates are actively shaping the future economy by nurturing business and tech-savvy talent infused with an entrepreneurial drive. Embracing initiatives aligned with the ‘Start-up India’ movement, such as the ICAI Startup Yatra inclusive of programs like ICAI Startup Manthan and ICAI Startup Samvad, along with initiatives like Start-Up Sphere and ICAI Start-Up Gateway, aims to harmonize efforts, synergize strengths, and harness innovation and entrepreneurship driven by excellence. This collaborative endeavor aims to foster the generation of ideas and inventions for the greater good of society. Leveraging its extensive presence in the MSME sector, the accounting profession stands as a trusted advisor, fostering a supportive environment for start-up growth in India. Below, key developments related to the profession are highlighted:

International Commitments

Visit of delegation from CA Maldives On December 18, 2023, a prominent delegation led by Mr Hussain Niyazy, Auditor General & President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Maldives (CA – Maldives), alongside Mr Hassan Mohamed, Vice President, Mr Ibrahim Fazeel, Council Member, and Mr Mohamed Haleem, Council Member and Chairperson of the Academic Committee from CA Maldives, visited the ICAI. The discussions centred around empowering finance professionals in the Maldives with specialized expertise and skills, following the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) established between ICAI and CA – Maldives. The delegation proposed a joint initiative to harness ICAI’s expertise in offering specialized courses to augment finance practitioners’ professional capabilities in the Maldives.

Annual Conferences Organised by ICAI Chapters I participated in the 41st Annual International Seminar hosted by the Dubai Chapter of ICAI on December 10, 2023. Notably, the event welcomed H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan, UAE’s Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, as the Chief Guest. The seminar revolved around a highly pertinent theme: “Confluence – Vision, Sustainability, Innovation.” This theme emphasized the drive for advancement coupled with accountability, recognizing innovation as the pathway toward a sustainable future in today’s world. More than 1000 participants hailing from the UAE, India, and various corners of the world were in attendance at the event—additionally, CA. Ranjeet Kumar Agarwal, Vice President of ICAI, took part in the 3rd Annual International Conference themed “Expand Your Horizons” – Create, Adapt, Reinvent, Excel, orchestrated by the Kuwait Chapter of ICAI on December 16, 2023.

The esteemed presence of CA Suresh Prabhu, Former Union Minister of the Government of India, as the Guest of Honor, alongside H.E. Dr. Adarsh Swaika, Ambassador of the Embassy of India to Kuwait, marked the event. This conference fostered dialogue among distinguished professionals, entrepreneurs, and leaders across diverse fields from India, Kuwait, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). During the gathering, the Vice President of ICAI shared insights into various initiatives undertaken by the organization.

Read Also: ICAI President Stresses Technology for Competitive Advantage

Award and Recognition Program of ICAI

1. SAFA Awards 2022 On December 22, 2023, the ICAI organized the esteemed South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA) Awards for Best Presented Annual Report, Integrated Reporting, and SAARC Anniversary Awards for Corporate Governance Disclosure 2022. This event aimed to honour exceptional corporate reporting and governance disclosures across the South Asian region. Nominations poured in from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, spanning across 16 categories for this year’s awards ceremony. The event marked the presence of CA. Nihar N. Jambusaria, President, SAFA, Mr. Heshana Kuruppu, Vice President, SAFA, myself, CA. Ranjeet Kumar Agarwal, Vice President, ICAI, CA. (Dr.) Anuj Goyal, Chairman, Research Committee, ICAI, CA. Cotha S. Srinivas, Vice Chairman, Research Committee, ICAI, Ms. Anoji De Silva, Chairperson, Committee for Improvement in Transparency, Accountability and Governance, SAFA and other dignitaries. In a dazzling evening affair, the Awards were presented, graced by the participation of over 250 professionals from SAFA Member countries. Preceding the awards ceremony, the ICAI conducted the SAFA Virtual Conference, themed “Future of the Accountancy Profession.” This conference explored the forthcoming terrain of the accountancy realm, hosting panel discussions focused on technological upheavals and the reshaping of leadership in accountancy. Renowned speakers from diverse South Asian countries enriched the event with their insights, shedding light on the evolving trends in the field. The conference drew an audience of over 1200 participants from across more than 10 countries.

2. Building the Next Gen Leaders – CA Business Leaders -40 Under 40 Awards The Institute is dedicated to fostering future leaders crucial for the nation’s ongoing economic advancement. It acknowledges and celebrates young talent possessing leadership acumen, pivotal for steering sustainable growth that benefits the entire country. In collaboration with CNBC-TV18, the Institute hosted the 2nd edition of the CA Business Leaders 40 under 40 Awards, honouring dynamic Chartered Accountants under 40 years old who have assumed leadership roles, catalyzing positive economic shifts. This awards ceremony, held on December 11, 2023, in Mumbai, recognized 40 young business leaders for their exceptional accomplishments. These accolades undoubtedly serve as a catalyst, inspiring our budding Chartered Accountants to persist in their commendable endeavours, further elevating the accounting profession’s prestige.

3. ICAI Women Excellence Awards – 2023 At the Institute, we’ve consistently taken pride in the achievements of our female members, who continuously bring honor to the profession through their steadfast dedication to excellence. This year, our Women and Young Members Excellence Committee (WYMEC) has actively pursued initiatives to consciously acknowledge, honour, and celebrate the invaluable contributions of women members. This commitment culminated in the organization of the inaugural CA Women Excellence Awards, aimed at recognizing and rewarding the remarkable achievements of our female members. This event presented a unique opportunity not only to highlight the Institute’s dedication to raising awareness about women’s and girls’ empowerment but also to further the cause of gender equality in alignment with Sustainable Development Goal 5. I’m delighted to share that in its inaugural year, we received an encouraging response with nominations from nearly 100 women members across India, representing diverse categories. The fitting award ceremony, held in Mumbai on December 20, 2023, saw Mr Ashishkumar Chauhan, MD & CEO of the National Stock Exchange, as the Chief Guest presenting awards across various categories. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the winners once more and am confident that these accolades will serve as a source of motivation and inspiration for our women members and aspiring female students, encouraging them to strive for greater achievements in their respective fields.

4. ICAI Sustainability Awards-2023 The Institute also presented the ‘ICAI Sustainability Reporting Awards and the ‘International Sustainability Reporting Awards to organizations leading the way in ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) practices. This event, held in Mumbai on December 20, 2023, acknowledged and commended companies driving a more eco-friendly, socially aware business landscape. The awards recognized contributions made by these companies in Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting, Sustainability Reporting Leadership, and the best Sustainability Reporting practices. Mr Ashishkumar Chauhan, MD & CEO of NSE, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest and presented awards to various organizations. These awards are poised to further bolster the country’s sustainability ecosystem and aid in advancing the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). Through these recognitions, ICAI cultivates a culture of continual advancement, encouraging excellence in areas such as sustainability, women’s empowerment, financial transparency, and vibrant leadership.

ICAI-SAFA Joint CFO Meet  

The CMI&B, in collaboration with the South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA), produced a compelling and thought-provoking Interactive CFO Meet on December 2, 2023, in Mumbai. The event, skillfully hosted by WIRC of ICAI, convened finance leaders, industry mavens, and visionary minds to delve into the theme “The Evolving Role of CFOs – Rising Upward.” The gathering aimed to cultivate a community of finance leaders primed to proactively shape the future of finance in the South Asian region. I had the privilege of attending this event alongside Central Council members from Mumbai.

Chartered Accountants Benevolent Fund- Special Drive  

ICAI has always been working persistently for the benefit of its members and is diligently dedicated to their constant improvement and growth. Since 1962, the Chartered Accountants Benevolent Fund (CABF) has been the medium through which ICAI has provided financial assistance to the dependants and families of its deceased members. The CABF stands as a distinctive social security and benevolence initiative, created by the Members and for the Members, proving pivotal during the COVID-19 pandemic by offering aid to both members and their dependents. To fortify the CABF further, ICAI has launched a “Special Drive,” aiming to bolster its support system and acknowledge contributors across various categories. The reinforcement of CABF is crucial to ensure that Members in need receive appropriate support within established guidelines. The CA community forms the backbone of the profession and deserves recognition for their altruistic contributions to CABF. Through this initiative, I earnestly urge all members to wholeheartedly contribute to this noble cause.

Member And Student Initiatives

ICAI Commerce Olympiad-2023 – To foster talent and cultivate competitive skills in Commerce, the Institute orchestrated the ICAI Commerce Olympiad on December 3, 2023, through its Committee on Career Counselling. This Olympiad welcomed students ranging from class VIII to Graduation. I’m delighted to report that the response surpassed expectations, with over 101,700 students registering from numerous schools, and colleges across India, and abroad. As an educational institution, ICAI remains dedicated to its role in shaping India into a global talent centre for Commerce and Accounting.

Centre of Excellence, Kolkata Foundation Laying Ceremony – Driven by the ambition to pioneer industry advancement, foster innovation, uphold elevated professional benchmarks, and cultivate insightful leadership, our vision entails establishing Centers of Excellence. These centers aim to perpetuate ongoing research and learning, facilitate technological assimilation, and elevate the efficiency of accounting practices holistically. It brings me great joy to announce that on November 29, 2023, we laid the cornerstone for the Centre of Excellence in Kolkata. This centre is poised to mould the future of accounting by disseminating knowledge, conducting research, and fostering collaborative efforts. It stands as a guiding light for accounting and finance education in the eastern region.

Organizing Regional Conferences

The Institute is dedicated to keeping its members well-informed about recent developments, conducting Annual Regional Conferences for this purpose. These conferences serve as comprehensive platforms, capturing the evolving dynamics and significant advancements across various professional domains. Moreover, they offer a distinctive networking opportunity for members to collaborate and exchange insights with their peers. In line with this, the 37th Regional Conference of WIRC took place on December 15th & 16th, 2023 in Mumbai; the 48th Regional Conference of EIRC occurred on December 15th & 16th, 2023 in Kolkata; the NIRC Regional Conference 2023 was held in Delhi on December 22nd & 23rd, 2023; and the 43rd Regional Conference of CIRC was hosted on December 23rd & 24th, 2023 in Raipur. I, along with ICAI Vice-President CA. Ranjeet Kumar Agarwal, attended these conferences, witnessing active participation from a large number of members.

Future Vision 2049 inputs

In line with India’s aspirations for comprehensive growth and self-reliance by 2047, ICAI is committed to significantly shaping the nation’s financial landscape. The ICAI Vision 2049 envisages the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India as a global frontrunner in accountancy, fostering ethical excellence, technological innovation, and sustainable practices.

As we set forth on this transformative path, insights and contributions, particularly from our members, students, and stakeholders, hold immense significance. Together, we can cultivate an inclusive vision that addresses the evolving demands of our profession and aligns with India’s overarching journey toward economic eminence. I urge you all to share your valuable perspectives, aiding in crafting a future where ICAI plays a pivotal role in driving positive change for stakeholders and the public interest. The announcement with links to the questionnaire has been separately published in the journal.

International ICAI Student Conference 2023

We at ICAI are working to develop the professionals for the whole world in this emerging global paradigm. Through such aspirations, we conducted the ICAI student international  Conference “Aarohan – Conquering New Horizons with Integrity and Innovation”. Hon’ble Governor of Gujarat Shri Acharya Devvrat inaugurated the conference. This vibrant event underscored ICAI’s commitment to fostering global partnerships in finance. It served as a dynamic platform for students to share thoughts and perspectives, highlighting ICAI’s dedication to equipping the next generation for the constantly evolving global terrain. The Conference achieved remarkable success, drawing attendance from 3500 students.

Closure

As we commemorate the 75th Republic Day, let’s pause and contemplate the core values of our Constitution and pay tribute to the relentless dedication of our nation’s architects. Their steadfast commitment has granted us the ability to chart our course independently. May this Republic Day serve as a beacon, motivating us to persist in our efforts and contribute to the enduring splendour of our nation. “The Constitution is not a mere lawyer’s document, it is a vehicle of Life, and its spirit is always the spirit of Age”. – Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Once again, I extend my heartfelt wishes to everyone for a joyous New Year. Let this upcoming year be a blank canvas for fresh starts, where each step forward represents progress, unity, and triumph. As we engage in the festivities, let’s embrace the opportunities and promise that the approaching year holds, recalling the wise words of Mr Nelson Mandela: “I never lose. Either I win or learn.” May the New Year bring success, prosperity, and countless moments of joy to all. Jai Hind! Jai ICAI!

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