the Institute Of Chartered Accountants of India
Subject- An appeal to review the decision for the holding of examinations in the painful Pandemic of 2021.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India is having a rich experience in conducting the examination but faced hardship in conducting the 2020 examinations. Covid 19 is not over yet and the more deadly second wave of Covid-19 is unexplained and unpredictable in terms of human loss. Before coming to the student’s issue, it a matter of great relief that the questions raised through my open letter to your good office regarding benevolent fund are taken care of and hopefully, Benevolent Fund is going through a change of mind-set and will surely be beneficial for the members in distress.
The impact of the Second wave was strong and still going on without much relief. You have given an interview to a third-party publication and addressed it to students reaffirming your commitment to go ahead with the examination. I feel it’s my utter duty to inform you about the ground reality of few states where Covid-19 is in initial stages and is bound to escalate its pace. In northern India, we are having a relief but you have to conduct the Exams PAN India, hence situation across India must be normalized. There is nothing on the board at this moment that the situation will be normal by 24th June. So, why enter a risky zone, when we can bypass such a situation by postponing our examinations for a short period.
Your attention is drawn towards a fact that The Prime Minister of India has given up. All the Chief Ministers have also given up conducting the Examinations in the present circumstances. You are required to review your stand taken in your interview titled “Holding CA exams in pandemic times”. There is a uniform fear of corona, loss of their loved one and unfortunately, we are passing through a most sorrowful situation. Your attention is also invited that a number of students have to travel from one state to another to appear for the examinations.
You have to understand the student’s fearful state of mind. You have to see the words used by the Prime Minister of India about their decision of cancelling the examinations.
“The decision on Class XII exams was taken after an extensive consultative process. We got several inputs from all over the nation, which were insightful and enabled us to take a student-friendly decision.
“This has been a chaotic year for students. The joys of growing up partly snatched away, confined to their homes, less time with friends. As you said, in the current times, this was the best and most student-friendly decision.”
“Government of India has decided to cancel the Class XII CBSE Board Exams. After extensive consultations, we have taken a decision that is student-friendly, one that safeguards the health as well as future of our youth.”
However, your reply to the following question reverses the Government’s approach to deal with such a situation. I am reproducing your words full of uncertainty and hope for the good. I am sorry; a student’s life cannot be taken for granted in such a casual manner.
A BL question to you – What if your expectations don’t come true and Covid cases again rise?
Reply – Then there is no option but to go with what government decides. If lock-down does not open up, then we may have to further postpone it. You will appreciate that we will have to mind our sister institutes (Cost Accountants and Company Secretary Institutes) also. Since in the first fortnight of July, they don’t have their exams, we thought we can schedule it. We will, of course, keep a watch on the Covid situation and Government announcements on lock-down. But as of now, we are confident that conditions around July 5 will be conducive for holding exams.
You are also requiring going through the same process as taken by the Government of India. You should go for empathy, sensitivity, and understanding of the pain and keeping our Institute’s most valuable asset’s “the student’s” safety in mind. You should consider the risk to life & tremendous mental pressure of the students. There are few matters of Concern that require your attention before going to release the detailed program of the examinations.
Postponement of Exams of 24th June and 5th July.
You have already announced the dates for foundation and regular exams from 22nd June 2021 and 5th July 2021. The situation is improving but there is no harm to monitor it further before going for the examinations. Last year, we have rescheduled the exams many times and conducted the examinations when the situation was normal. There is no data available at your end for the after-effects of conducting such examinations. However, the said examinations began with the legal cases against the examinations and ended with the legal cases for the declaration of results. There is a pious relationship between the ICAI and her students and their life should accord the first priority.
This year is marked with the cancellation of examinations by the Central Government Committee headed by the Prime Minister of India who found it very genuine. Though 12th examinations are the basic exams for the professional and graduate courses still the Government has considered the cancellation appropriate in the present circumstances. The same students who got relief from the Government are required to appear for the foundation course. We can’t afford the cancellation of exams for many reasons but certainly, there is no harm in deferring the same for a month time to monitor the present circumstances. This year, Covid-19 is regulated through the state machinery hence there is no uniform policy of lock-downs. The states are free to announce the lock-downs as per their requirement and you have to deal with such exams on PAN India, so there are fair chances of clashing your intentions with the state policies and implementation of their norms. The second wave started with Maharashtra two months back and still, the state is facing hardship in dealing with the cases of Covid-19. The impact of Covid-19 is the same for all the states. In the next 15 days, there will be many announcements for unlocking. The timings of your examination will be in the unlocking period and that makes the issues to deal with utmost sincerity. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) the outbreak remains in a very fluid situation and being head of the Institution, you have to assure monitoring of safeguards and after-effects on health, safety, and travel mobility of the students.
This postponement for a month is very much required as the clouds of uncertainty due to the Pandemic are very much there. As we are taking the decision of the well-being of students, we should revisit our decision to go ahead with the June- July 2021 examination. We must concentrate on the health and safety of our students as our primary duty rather than to take care of sister institutes. Many have already taken the righteous decision in deferring their exams.
You are requested to consider the appeal of India Wide parents association appealed to the Finance minister of India and you regarding holding of Examinations by our Institute. Ms. Anubha Srivastava Sahai is caring for the student’s cause due to Covid-19 at each and every available platform. You are requested not to ignore her findings on the subject, which has rightly placed before you for taking an appropriate decision on the exams. We should not be in hurry to take such decisions.
Declaration of four results for November 2020 examinees.
The results of the institute have been followed by a number of legal cases in various high courts. Recently, The Rajasthan High Court pronounced a judgment in favour of students and has forced your examination committee to declare all the results withheld by you on the flimsy allegations of derogatory remarks. Such legal courses are exceptional in nature as in the history of Seventy years, the Institute never faced any such resistance from the innocent students but that’s enough to understand a fact that somewhere our leaders and their decisions for students are harsh. The four students, whose results are still withheld at your end, wrote emails to the centers for making the arrangement of Covid behaviour as per the Ministry of Home Affairs directives. Is it a sin to be proactive on such a subject? The members of the Examination Committee and a group constituted by you justified the withholding of four results on a plea that the centers have declined to host the exams and the institute has faced many difficulties in arranging the new centers. Is it a justified decision? Please review the four cases and use your discretionary powers to release the said four results also.
Further attempts for old Course
This July attempt is the last attempt under the old syllabus. The IPCC and final examinations under the old syllabus were going on for a long. The switchover to the new syllabus is not an easy task from the academic point of view. The Institute has already announced its intention to have a new curriculum in the 5th year of its operation and a committee has already been announced for the same set aside the old practice of revising the curriculum every 10th year. Probably, the old course students are being routed out due to this change and there is no logic to end their career just because of administrative reasons. The IPCC students have got the extensions earlier also but the final year students have never got any extension of attempts. Keeping in view to Pandemic and going on uncertainty is having a justified plea to raise the cut-off dates for the old courses. At least there should be an extension of two years for their attempts. I hereby quote your words “For actual syllabus to get modified, it may at least take two years from now. This is not a routine revision, but we are reinventing our education and training in line with current day needs.” Hence attempts of the final course should be extended for two more years.
An alternate way to seek Examination
We have failed to go for any structural change in conducting the examination. We should explore all possibilities to go for the alternative modes of examination. We should take up the course on the lines of International courses and provide an alternate way to take up the examination. No one can predict the aging of the covid-19 as its strains are prone to change. Keeping in view of such an uncertain period ahead, we must work for preparations of some alternate mechanism of offline exams.
I humbly request you to take decisions prioritizing the health and safety of everyone fairer and equitable. Further, explore the possibility of getting vaccination of the students on PAN India before going for another set of examinations. It is prayed to initiate the remedial measures of providing options of students to their chosen groups, centers, etc by opening the window for changes. Further, in a stressful and trying situation, I look forward to your understanding to make decisions in a timely and well-informed manner.
Thanking you in anticipation,
CA Amresh Vashisht, FCA