Articleship: the Journey is more important than the Destination
Articleship: the Journey is more important than the Destination
A bowler can’t bowl without getting down on the field; a doctor can’t operate without any experience of operation theatre; a lawyer can’t argue without ever seeing a court-room; similarly, a CA without Articleship experience is always ‘half-CA’.
After passing the Intermediate level of the Chartered Accountancy course the only question which bothers all CA students is where to do Articleship from? Whether from Big 4; mid-sized firm or a small firm? A firm that gives sufficient leaves before CA final examinations? A firm which has the minimum working hours? Whereas some students have a simpler question in mind, ‘Should we even do articleship?’ The answer also is simple and straight-forward, yes. Not just because it is legally binding but also because of the hidden benefits. If we do a cost-benefit analysis, benefits exceed costs involved by a huge margin. Hence it is certainly profitable;
Provided that the student takes initiative to learn, has the passion to do something, has love for the profession and is devoted to his/her career.
Three years of rigorous training: the only period in our career giving us a platform for immense learning. With the zeal to acquire knowledge and with that sincerity in my heart I began my journey at Kedia Dhandharia & Company, Kolkata on 27th October, 2016. Like any other CA article, I was excited about this new phase I was entering into.
The very first day I was handed over a pass-book by my senior and asked to pass entries. I was posted in the Accounts Department. Here my work profile included: preparation and finalization of books of accounts. I did my work religiously. Without any direction I was going with the flow.
Alongside, because of my strong command over English, I also worked on preparation of Statement of Facts, Grounds of Appeal which gave me enough exposure of preparing Appeal petitions before the Commission of Income Tax (Appeal). I also prepared paper-book for submission before the Taxation Tribunal, which sometimes would be more than 200 pages long (although 150+ pages would comprise of annexures).
Little did I know that this drafting work was actually laying a foundation stone for my future. Six months had passed and I wanted to work on something new. Regular accounting work seemed monotonous to me. At one point of time I simply felt stuck. My learning graph was parallel to the X-axis of time.
My dissatisfaction was pretty apparent and my principal decided to change my Department. Since I had got enough exposure of accounting work he decided to shift me to the Indirect Taxation Department which was personally headed by him. 1st July, 2017 the day when GST was launched in India was also the day I was shifted to this new Department. This was the turning point in my career.
The first task I got was to search for the HSN code of a particular product and find out the rate of GST on the same. This in itself felt like a big task back then. Gradually, we started researching on works contract under GST regime, its impact owing to the fact that we had quite a few real estate clients. This was followed by a daily affair of reading the Central Goods & Services Tax Act, interpreting it and adding observations in ‘Impact Assessment’ made for various industries including: textile, hospitality, real estate, catering, pharmaceutical, etc.
While all this was going on, we were assigned a project of making a presentation on Impact Assessment on works contract services. This led to a series of presentations which mainly focused on the real estate sector.
Back then in 2017, the returns of GSTR-3B; GSTR-1 and GSTR-2 were significant tasks because that was the time when we were reading the language of the returns and trying to understand what were its requirements. Filing GSTR-3B or GSTR-1 has now become a clerical job. 25th August 2017, the last date for filing the first ever GSTR-3B for the tax period July 2017: there was chaos in office, everyone was in a hurry, and we worked till late and ultimately completed the task which certainly was felt like an achievement.
GST is a law which is synonymous to change. Over the past 2 years it has undergone numerous changes. With over 250 notifications, ‘n’ number of circulars, orders and press releases, GST has matured. A year after its inception the law witnessed an Amendment Act as well. Amidst all this, we were expected to be on track with the changes going on which helped me stay updated.
Articleship is not just about learning the practical aspects of all the theory written in course study materials, it is a journey about learning management, skills to communicate with people, work with different people, gel with your collegues, handle clients and so on. It is the path towards accomplishment of a goal, a goal to excel, a goal to emerge as a successful Chartered Accountant, a goal to be an expert, a goal to fulfill all your dreams and most importantly to become an independent individual.
In the end of 2017, I got to know about National Conferences conducted by the Board of Studies of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. I applied for the very first time at National Conference for CA Students’, Ahmedabad for the topic ‘Composition Scheme in GST: its merits and demerits’. I got selected. It was my first presentation among an audience of 900+ students.
My principal, CA Manish Raj Dhandharia, the person I idolize as my Guru, my mentor, my guiding light, from the very beginning has been my source of inspiration. He has played the role of a motivator, a teacher and someone who believes in me. His focus has been on my learning and my wholesome development. Very few articles can say this, but I am blessed.
My second year of Articleship was all about drafting of opinions, reply to notices issued by the GST Department and GST consultancy. It involved a lot of reading, writing and interpretation. Little did I realize that in bits and pieces I had read almost the entire Act. Query sessions in office would be my favorite time. I enjoyed being a part of meetings, handling issues pertaining to the law, etc.
My work was recognized not only in office by my principal, seniors and colleagues but also by my friends who had started calling me ‘GST expert’.
Soon the forms of Annual return and GST Audit (GSTR-9 and GSTR-9C) were released and the scope of work shifted to understanding these forms.
Meanwhile, in January 2019, the International Conference for CA Students was held at Ahmedabad. This time too I got selected for the topic ‘Input Tax Credit under the GST regime’. My principal went out of the way to attend my presentation all the way from Kolkata to Ahmedabad. He was there just because he wanted to see his student-cum-trainee present on stage among an audience of 3500+ CA students. It is very rightly said, a teacher is synonymous to God.
I owe a lot to my entire journey as an article because I received sufficient exposure to be where I am today. The best is yet to come. I got selected as a Foreign Delegate from India to attend the International CA Students Conference, Sri Lanka held at Colombo organized by The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka. There were 8 delegates from India, 6 from Pakistan and 2 from Nepal. It was a lifetime experience.
Now when I look back and join the dots I realize how everything I have done contributed to my development. At present I am leading the team of GST Audit in office. This has been possible only because of the right platform, exposure and guidance I received during my journey of Articleship. The entire experience has made me independent, confident and a budding professional with a clear vision.
I believe that growth is incomplete without learning. The moment one realizes he knows everything, his end is near. Satisfaction leads to stagnation. This illuminating journey of my Articleship is nearing its end, I have learnt a lot and I have to keep learning more. The best is yet to come.
“The only source of knowledge is experience.”
Name: Sakshi Jhajharia
Location: Kolkata, West Bengal
Academic Background: CA Finalist; B. Com Hons.
Articleship: CA Manish Raj Dhandharia, Kedia Dhandharia & Co. Chartered Accountants, Kolkata
Articleship Tenure: Oct. 2016 to Oct. 2019
- General: Preparation & finalization of financial statements as per Indian GAAP (AS), legal drafting, opinion writing, legal interpretation, GST return filing and presentations.
- Indirect Tax: GST (Specialisation) [Industries covered: Real Estate; Textile; Catering; Hotel & Tourism; Pharmaceutical; FMCG].
- Direct Tax: Replies to notices issued under Income Tax Act, 1961; Preparation of Grounds of Appeal and Statement of facts for appeals made before CIT (Appeals).
- Accounts: Working with Tally ERP 9
- Audit: Audit under GST law
- Software used: Tally ERP 9; Gen GST
- Something Special: Public Speaking. Participated in the International Conference for CA Students, 2019 organized by the Board of Studies of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, held at Ahmedabad. Selected as a representative (foreign delegate) from India in the 33rd International CA Students’ Conference, Sri Lanka organized by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka.
- Main Clients handled: Indian Oil Corporation Limited; West Bengal Medical Services Corporation Limited; West Bengal State Forest Development Agency; Bose Institute; Vishnu Cotton Mills Limited; Siddha Real Estate Development Private Limited; Heritage River Journeys Private Limited; Ganganpati Vyapaar Private Limited; Shreesatya Sponge & Power Private Limited; Raadha Rani Nirmaan Private Limited; Royal Touch Fablon
Current Position: Articled Assistant (3rd year)
Overall feeling about Articleship:
- The expectation was: To learn practical skills and gather experience of working in a CA firm that would help in not just gaining knowledge but also aid in holistic personality development.
Actually Achieved: A wholesome experience of managing clients, appropriate exposure in learning presentation skills, thorough knowledge of GST which has led to a specialisation in the field and 360-degree coverage of practical aspects of the theory read in books.