Our accession to the designation ‘chartered accountant’ turned into reality after a prolonged struggle of our accountants, who were trained and educated in India, and were socially and professionally perceived different despite an equality in their abilities and rightfulness to audit accounts of companies in India, with their contemporary Chartered Accountants, who got their formal education from one of the British chartered societies. It started with an honest demand for a common status for all accountants of India. Veterans like Shri Govind Ballabh Pant, Shri Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Shri Krishna Kant Malaviya, etc., came out strongly in favour of the Indian accountants in the Legislative Assembly in 1936. Shri Jinnah argued: I stand for Indian talent, I want complete privileges and same rights as those given to anybody else in my country. In fact, this demand reminded us of a 1925 recommendation of the Indian External Capital Committee that included the educationist Shri Madan Mohan Malviya and the celebrated legislator Shri Vithalbhai Patel, to establish the order of chartered accountants in this country through the formation of an all-India Institute.
Unfortunately many felt in those days and some carry that misplaced notion even today that the designation ‘Chartered Accountant’ has a colonial baggage in it. Let us understand before we term and frame something colonial. All that is English or British is not colonial. With such wrongly-positioned understanding, we will have to change the names of many of the existing core courses in our Universities, as they were started following the British models. History and literature will also be withdrawn following this misplaced notion. In fact, I would like to quote here Shri Govind Ballabh Pant: …we have M.A.’s and LL.B.’s as in Cambridge…There are mechanical engineers again qualified in England as in India. Are not their titles common?…I do not mind suffering from an inferiority complex if it goads us on to a superior status, but I do not want superior arrogance if it tends to perpetuate an inferior status. It was the British who introduced modern education in our country from which we got acquainted with the existing contentions of world academia. Our own Ministry of Commerce had noted just before the enactment of the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 that there was ‘no insuperable legal objection in using the designation ‘Chartered Accountants’. This designation was well-accepted those days in countries including Canada, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, South Africa, Cape of Good Hope and South Rhodesia. It is still being used without any hint of ‘colonial’. Therefore, we will have to be quite sensitive in understanding what colonial is.
Our journey had begun with quite a clear conscience. Even today, a change just for the sake of change will not be acceptable to us. We would not allow anybody, for that matter, to doubt our sense of integrity and national pride, which has been the core and integral aspect of our professional constitution. We have been partnering in all possible ways with our Government since the profession’s inception in 1949. Our sense of responsibility and accountability is well-defined. We do not believe in futile exercises at the cost of our national resources, as this would be an absolute insult to the efforts of our intellectuals, who continue to command respect from all spheres of our society even today.