The cost ad­van­tage

The ICAI is a choice of thou­sands of stu­dents look­ing for a spe­cialised pro­fes­sional qual­i­fi­ca­tion

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - Rahat Bano

If you are look­ing for a ba­sic col­lege de­gree along with a pro­fes­sional cre­den­tial, what do you do? One of the choices of many stu­dents with this ques­tion on their mind is a pro­gramme like cost ac­coun­tancy, of­fered by the In­sti­tute of Cost Ac­coun­tants of In­dia.

Ra­jeev Mehro­tra was able to do the in­sti­tute’s in­ter­me­di­ate course while pur­su­ing a BCom (hons). Later he con­tin­ued with the fi­nal part of the cost ac­coun­tancy course while do­ing a job which en­abled him to self-fi­nance his stud­ies. In the end, he got a pro­fes­sional qual­i­fi­ca­tion which is well re­garded in the mar­ket.

It has been “more than sat­is­fy­ing” to have taken this qual­i­fi­ca­tion, says Mehro­tra, now chair­man and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of RITES Ltd, a government of In­dia en­ter­prise which of­fers en­gi­neer­ing, con­sul­tancy and project man­age­ment ser­vices in the trans­port in­fra­struc­ture sec­tor.

Talk­ing about the cost and man­age­ment ac­count­ing (CMA) course, Mehro­tra says, “The di­ver­sity of pa­pers and depth of sub­jects is very good to help you face many chal­lenges in fi­nance and gen­eral man­age­ment.”

RS Sharma, an­other ICAI mem­ber, says he found the course “more com­pre­hen­sive” than cer­tain other pro­fes­sional cour­ses. “Apart from ac­count­ing, tax­a­tion and fi­nance, there were pa­pers on law, quan­ti­ta­tive tech­niques and a lot of spe­cial­i­sa­tion in cost man­age­ment and I could see that any com­mer­cial en­ter­prise, busi­ness en­tity, any in­sti­tu­tion or any or­gan­i­sa­tion has to take care of cost op­ti­mi­sa­tion. There’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween cost sav­ings and cost op­ti­mi­sa­tion which means value for money,” says Sharma, who started his ca­reer in bank­ing and went on be­come chair­man and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Oil and Nat­u­ral Gas Cor­po­ra­tion. He is cur­rently chair­per­son of the Qual­ity Re­view Board of ICAI and chair­man of Lloyd’s Reg­is­ter (south-west Asia), which pro­vides in­de­pen­dent as­sur­ance to com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing high­risk, cap­i­tal-in­ten­sive as­sets in the en­ergy and trans­porta­tion sec­tors.

USP: The in­sti­tute of­fers a pro­fes­sional course for a par­tic­u­lar pro­fes­sion. “The course pro­vides a com­pre­hen­sive un­der­stand­ing of man­age­ment func­tion with spe­cialised un­der­stand­ing of cost op­ti­mi­sa­tion, that is, get­ting best value out of money (for your or­gan­i­sa­tion),” says Sharma.

Pro­grammes: ICAI’s flag­ship of­fer­ing is the cost and man­age­ment ac­coun­tancy pro­gramme, which has three stages, foun­da­tion, in­ter­me­di­ate and fi­nal. Stu­dents who have passed Class 10 or its equiv­a­lent are el­i­gi­ble to ap­ply for the foun­da­tion course. How­ever, they are al­lowed to take the foun­da­tion ex­am­i­na­tion only af­ter pass­ing Class 12 or its equiv­a­lent. Those who fin­ish the foun­da­tion course from ICAI or grad­u­a­tion from any recog­nised univer­sity can ap­ply for the in­ter­me­di­ate course. Those who pass all the six pa­pers in the in­ter­me­di­ate course can ap­ply for the fi­nal course, af­ter com­plet­ing which they can be­come CMAs.

The in­sti­tute also of­fers a one-year ac­count­ing tech­ni­cian cer­tifi­cate. In ad­di­tion to this, the in­sti­tute’s Ad­vance Stud­ies Di­rec­torate of­fers cour­ses in busi­ness val­u­a­tion and cor­po­rate re­struc­tur­ing; trea­sury and fi­nan­cial risk man­age­ment and en­ter­prise per­for­mance man­age­ment and ap­praisal sys­tem. Un­der a 2008 mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with ICAI, Indira Gandhi Na­tional Open Univer­sity has been run­ning two spe­cial cour­ses BCom with ma­jor in fi­nan­cial and cost ac­count­ing and MCom in man­age­ment ac­count­ing and fi­nan­cial strate­gies ex­clu­sively for CMA stu­dents.

Fac­ulty: The CMA course is con­ducted mostly through cor­re­spon­dence. For oral

Anita Mal­ho­tra is a molec­u­lar ecol­o­gist in­volved in re­search on snake venom at the School of Bi­o­log­i­cal Sciences, Ban­gor Univer­sity, Wales in the UK. To date, she’s dealt with over 500 snakes. Her de­part­ment in­ter­acts di­rectly with the anti-venom man­u­fac­tur­ers and hos­pi­tals to en­sure that knowl­edge of the dif­fer­ent types of venom ac­tu­ally reach the end users. It is also col­lab­o­rat­ing (there are no for­mal tie-ups through) with a few in­sti­tutes in In­dia such as the SAS­TRA univer­sity in Tamil Nadu and the In­dian In­sti­tute of Sciences, Ban­ga­lore.

Mal­ho­tra stud­ied at the Loreto House in Cal­cutta up to sec­ondary level, did her Alevels at Trin­ity Catholic High School, Wood­ford Green, Es­sex. She pur­sued her un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree at Je­sus Col­lege, Ox­ford, where she se­cured a first class hon­ours de­gree in zo­ol­ogy dur­ing which she un­der­took an un­der­grad­u­ate ex­pe­di­tion to south In­dia, car­ry­ing out a fau­nal sur­vey of Sriv­il­liput­tur Re­serve For­est. She did her doc­tor­ate at the Univer­sity of Aberdeen, Scot­land, where she worked on Caribbean is­land lizards. She fi­nally started work on snakes in 1992. coach­ing classes, the in­sti­tute en­gages teach­ers – most of them prac­tis­ing CMAs, says an of­fi­cial.

In­fra­struc­ture: Head­quar­tered at Kolkata, ICAI has re­gional coun­cils in Kolkata, Delhi, Mum­bai and Chen­nai, and 95 chap­ters in im­por­tant cities in In­dia, plus seven cen­tres abroad. The con­tact classes are held at the in­sti­tute’s premises (re­gional and chap­ters).

In­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy is used to pro­vide vir­tual classes and var­i­ous ser­vices to the stu­dents, cur­rently num­ber­ing around five lakh. Stu­dent reg­is­tra­tion is done on­line and so is the de­liv­ery of some classes. To reach stu­dents (and mem­bers) across the coun­try, there is a we­bi­nar (on­line sem­i­nar) fa­cil­ity.

The in­sti­tute’s place­ment di­rec­torate links up with the

So, what made her so passionate about snakes? It was in her teens that she first saw a snake at close quar­ters, when Di­pak Mi­tra of the Cal­cutta Snake Park got it to her school. “Most of the class stam­peded to the other end of the room when asked if they wanted to touch one, which made me won­der why such a harm­less and very beau­ti­ful an­i­mal could pro­duce such an ex­treme re­ac­tion and sparked off my in­ter­est in snakes,” she rec­ol­lects.

Those who in­spired her to take up venom re­search in­cluded ded­i­cated In­dian her­petol­o­gists whom she en­coun­tered in her early years, such as Di­pak Mi­tra (of course), Ro­mu­lus Whi­taker, JC Daniel and oth­ers. Later, her PhD su­per­vi­sor Roger Thorpe and fel­low PhD stu­dents, “some of whom I still work with,” were ma­jor in­flu­ences

Mal­ho­tra also took to the field be­cause she liked be­ing out­doors in the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment and chose to do field-based projects when­ever pos­si­ble. “In the case of the Asian pitviper, field work was a ne­ces­sity as the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of mu­seum spec­i­mens was of­ten in­ac­cu­rate and there were huge gaps in the distri­bu­tion of avail­able spec­i­mens,” she says. in­dus­try. Place­ment camps are or­gan­ised in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try. In 2012, ICAI reg­is­tered 70% place­ments with an av­er­age salary of­fered of about R6.5 lakh a year. The em­ploy­ers in­clude a large num­ber of pub­lic sec­tor com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing mini and maha rat­nas and multi­na­tional com­pa­nies from the pri­vate sec­tor such as ONGC, Coal In­dia, Nes­tle, Tata Con­sul­tancy Ser­vices, HCL, TVS, Wipro and Jin­dal Steel, among oth­ers.

Dur­ing place­ments, one of the qual­i­fied CMAs from the June 2012 batch got a job of­fer with an an­nual pay package of R11.2 lakh from the Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change

Board of In­dia.

And has she ever been bit­ten by a snake? “I have never been bit­ten by a dan­ger­ous snake, although I have been by back-fanged snakes which are now known to be ven­omous such as In­dian green vine snakes. How­ever, th­ese did not pro­duce any kind of re­ac­tion and served to teach me to be more care­ful in the fu­ture,” she says.

But was she ever scared of them? Not at all, she says. “Since I grew up in a city where we did not en­counter snakes, I don’t think I ever picked up the in­nate fear that more ru­ral peo­ple have of snakes (quite rightly given how dan­ger­ous many of them can be). How­ever, that does not mean I was es­pe­cially brave, quite the con­trary! I tend to view large mam­mals as more dan­ger­ous on the whole, and my fam­ily tease me about be­ing scared of cows,” she adds.

And how are dan­ger­ous snakes han­dle? How does one feel touch­ing them? “We ac­tu­ally tend to avoid han­dling ven­omous snakes un­less ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary, us­ing hooks, tongs and tubes to make it pos­si­ble to do it safely when it is nec­es­sary. While work­ing in the field, I have come across co­bras, king co­bras, Rus­sell’s viper (which is con­sid­ered by many to be the most dan­ger­ous snake in the world), co­ral snakes, and plenty of pit vipers. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, they leave you alone if you do not bother them, and I would only do so if there was a good sci­en­tific rea­son.”

And what were the chal­lenges she faced in her field? Snakes do not re­spect coun­try bor­ders which meant that for the study of a sin­gle species, it would be nec­es­sary to go through a huge amount of bu­reau­cracy to ap­ply for per­mits to work in three or four dif­fer­ent coun­tries. Hav­ing done all that, there was no guar­an­tee of success as pit vipers can be very dif­fi­cult to find and keep unso­cia­ble hours, be­ing mostly noc­tur­nal.

And her ad­vice to young­sters who wish to get into this field? “Don’t be afraid to ask for ad­vice, get prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence by vol­un­teer­ing, fol­low your dream and ac­cept that some­times this mat­ters more than mak­ing a lot of money,” says Mal­ho­tra.

snap­shot of the in­sti­tute’s Delhi of­fice

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