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Will You Sit With Me?

Discussion in 'Saturdays with Varalotti' started by varalotti, Mar 15, 2008.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Will You Sit With Me?

    ‘Till now we thought that your middle name is controversy; but now we know for sure that your surname and your first name is controversy as well. How dare you ask such a question?’

    I can hear you, most gracious ILites. I can even see the angry frown on the beautiful faces of our wonderful moderators. But give me an opportunity to explain before you click your mouse.

    I am not asking you to sit with me in the park, beach or theatre. I am asking you to sit with me on the dais.

    Yes I had an opportunity to sit on the dais this morning as the Chairman of the Second Technical Session of our Chartered Accountants’ Seminar held here today.

    My session was on CBS Branches (i.e. Core Banking Solutions branches, branches which have ATM facility and ‘anywhere banking’ facility).

    I should confess here that the organisers of the seminar are a brilliant lot. They knew very well that the session will be too serious and too technical.

    They sort of wanted a relief like having a comedy track for a serious movie. Like having Vivek or Kaunda Mani blaberring some thing in the midst of a very serious story.

    They could not think of a better comedian than yours truly and I was on the dais. I am inviting you there not only to share my seat but some of my thoughts as well.


    Some of the thoughts I shared with my colleagues in the profession have relevance to all of us, whether we are lawyers, doctors, accountants, housewives, businesswomen or even janitors. I do not want to hold back anything from you and hence this thread.

    All of us are mortally afraid (we, chartered accountants, and especially mofussil accountants more so) that we may be soon be dispensed with by the onset of modern technology. You might be surprised to know that many professions have already vanished without leaving a trace.

    For example the people who draw hoardings. In those days I used to watch those poor artists sitting at a height of 100 feet from the ground drawing pictures of Shivaji Ganesan, MGR and Saroja Devi on giant size hoardings.

    But now with the advent of flexi boards and graphics printing there is absolutely no need for them.

    Now it is a part of the Madurai culture that even on the occasion of the girl child attaining puberty, a huge multi-coloured flexi-board showcasing the picture of the girl, her parents, grand parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and even her pet dog is placed in vantage points across the city.

    When I think of those artists who used to draw a hoarding for more than a week, my heart bleeds. They are nowhere to be seen.

    Many accountants have this mortal fear in them that they are slowly becoming obsolete.

    To bolster their confidence I narrated two events.
     
  2. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    About fifteen years ago when PC was slowly coming up in <st1:country-region><st1:place>India</st1:place></st1:country-region>, I was asked by my client, a huge textile mill, Down South, to co-ordinate with a programmer who was computerising their accounts. That fellow could not understand accounts.

    He was grilling me for the whole day, how come depreciation account comes both in the Profit and Loss Account and the Balance Sheet. I tried to explain the concept but he could not understand. I should have become frustrated.

    Instead he became frustrated and told me, “When are you accountants going to understand computers?”

    I got wild but told him calmly. “My Dear Friend, in another five years, if I want to, I can become an expert in computers. But even when you are fifty you will never know accounting. For that you require a solid professional education and an even more solid professional experience.”

    What I said became true. Today many of us accountants are well-versed with computers. I know accountants who can write procedures in C++ and Java with their left hands.

    I am yet to see a computer professional who can flawlessly narrate our basic debit-credit rules.

    Now at my age , I can understand what is happening around me. Technology or tools of a trade, are like fashions and fads. They keep changing by the day. Domain knowledge is rock-solid like the basic values.

    They do not and will never change. Whether you are a housewife or a stock-broker or a teacher, you have to disntinguish between the tools of your trade and your trade itself.

    Today a teacher has a million aids at her disposal which her predecessor about fifty years back could not even imagine. But that does not affect the basic concept of teaching. And if you are strong in that it is just a question of time before you become adept in handling the modern tools.

    In the nineties when PCs became ubiquitous, the catch-phrase was “paperless office”.

    In the pre-computer era (to many of the modern day kids, it’s the pre-historic era) we had thick ledgers in which accounts were manually written. During the first seven years of my professional practice I had audited all these humongous ledgers. I used to manually prepare the balance sheet and then give it for typing or printing.

    So when the phrase ‘paperless office’ spread like wild fire, every one was thrilled.

    They could foresee the slow death of the paper industry. And the share-prices of paper companies started coming down drastically.

    But what happened? As PCs spread far and wide, the consumption of paper increased manifold. My friend who is a paper dealer now tells me that the paper consumption has gone up by more than 100 times compared to the pre-computer era.

    But there is a difference in the form of the paper that is selling more. In those days ruled sheets, A3 size papers, and accounting sheets used to sell in millions. Now continuous stationery, one-time carbons and EZR paper are selling in billions of tons. And this trend has a very potent lesson for all of us.

    The substance you have in you will not be threatened by technology if you are willing to change your form to suit the needs of the day.

    If you are a loose A3 size ruled sheet, then you will have to work towards changing yourself into a computer stationery. Then you can never be dispensed with.

    Whenever you have doubts on your self-worth or your relevance in the modern world, just ponder over this statement:

    “If a cup of water is taken from the ocean, all the waters of the world will have to move over to fill the gap. You are important. The world will not be the same without you.”

    What was it like, sitting with a mofussil accountant? On the dais, in a professional seminar?

    Now move over to the title of the thread. What is your answer to my question?
     
  3. Sriniketan

    Sriniketan IL Hall of Fame

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    Sridhar,
    I like to sit on the dias, provided, they don't ask me to talk ( otherwise it would be a comedy inbetween the serious session, as you would have mentioned)
    Adaptation---is very important even in day-to-day life too.
    If we would not adapted to the 'gas stove'--we would be doing all the cooking work in a 'kumutti' like those days and will not have time for anything in this fast-paced world.
    This is an eg. only.Likewise we can cite many eg. right..
    In order to survive even the animals, insects and birds are being camouflauged.
    In order to survive, we should adapt and move on and as you said the basic things don't change.

    sriniketan
     
  4. srinivasan_vanaja

    srinivasan_vanaja Gold IL'ite

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    hello sir,

    i shall definitely sit with you. to develop any type of software, let it be accounting, billing, banking, games, shares, design, video etc., one needs to have lot of input and knowledge about that particular field. a software engineer cannot produce a particular software without the help of concerned field experts.

    which is better and tastier? a curd stored in plastic container or a mud pot. i don't find any technology storing in a plastic container. but science is involved when you store the curd in mud pot (osmosis process). same applies to this too. a good accountancy can be observed only in good accountants.

    a computer literate can never understand TALLY unless and until he knows what is credit and debit.

    previously since it is our hard work and we used less stationary, we need to be very careful in our drafts. now in this computer era, if we find a mistake we throw it and take a new print and thus we consume more stationary.
     
  5. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Sriniketan,
    You are most welcome to sit on the dais and they wont ask you to talk. We were running way behind schedule that I thanked a speaker more for finishing his speech on time than for giving a good speech.

    You are right. The word 'gas stove' touches a nerve in me. I still remember that we did not change to gas stove in our house (I am talking of days before my marriage) till it was very late.

    It now looks funny. In those days some of my elder relatives used to say that a gas stove is not healthy and you will have a lot of stomach problems if food is cooked in a LPG stove.

    I will share another secret with you. I started getting marriage alliance even while I was just 22. I had just finished my CA Inter and had not written my Final exams. There was an alliance-offer from a very, very rich Doctors family. They said that the girl was very beautiful. I had not seen her. The horoscopes matched. The girls family deputed an elderly lady to inspect our house. Our house was very big. That was the only merit that can be said of it. The lady inspected the place. She even asked my mom why we did not have a gas stove. My mom said that we only loved eating food cooked in Kumutti. (a lie). And then the girls family stopped corresponding with us.

    Of course our not having a gas stove was a blessing in disguise for me. For if we had one earlier, I would have married that rich girl and would not have seen Indhu.
    But before my marriage we switched over to gas.
    Adaptation is the name of the game.
    Thanks for the fb,
    regards,
     
  6. maya08

    maya08 Senior IL'ite

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    hi sir,
    i shall be more than willing to join...

    i agree with this statement very much....
    like myself, i had studied abit of basic accounting. but i am neither ashamed nor proud to say that i never excelled in that subject. and why i say this is because, since i hadn't excelled in that subject i know where my interest lie. but at the same time, by not excelling i did not gain another valueable knowledge which is equally important as other skilled careers. no doubt computer programes have arrived in the scene but it takes an accountant to understand all the terms that apply. a genius IT/computer versed person may not make head or tails with it. so i can safely say sir that your job will not die off as the hoarding artists.

    cheers
    maya
     
  7. Shanvy

    Shanvy IL Hall of Fame

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    Sridhar,

    I am willing to sit at the dais, not because am confident about accounts or computer programming, it is just that I had the experience of being trained to read accounts, first from a accountant (my dad) and to write programmes for that in cobol.

    Later, with veda, we used to be at the ends of our patience,daily at logger heads, arguments writing the programme for salary packages and other things then.

    And yes, a little interest in the subject is needed. Inspite of having learnt a lot from my DH, I would still say, that no profession will get extinct.

    I would really like veda's opinion on the same.I have given my opinion as a computer person.
     
  8. Nandshyam

    Nandshyam IL Hall of Fame

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    Nice write up, Sir :b: :b: :b:

    Computers, Software development --> These are just tools. without the field expertise, no one can climb up the ladder in this world.

    I have developers and programmers who are like "kadivaalam katina mathiri" just write up logics, but have no clue to what the business logic is. One can master in a field only when he understands its basics and also the different modes/tools available to make that easier for the mass.

    To be more precise, there are many vertical domains in this world, healthcare, financial etc.. But without understanding the field, just knowing how to code, yes you can survive, but its no justice to your career :)
     
  9. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    hello vanaja,
    Thanks for accepting the invitation. While I have to narrate that incident with the computer engineer because of relevance to the context, I have had the pleasant experience of working with professionals in other domains. When we were developing an ERP software for a 1000 crore company I had to sit with the entire project team consisting of sales, HR and technical people. I came out of the meeting humbled and wise.

    Many times I have had the pleasure of working with some good lawyers who have taught me not only law but also much about human behaviour.
    My hardware engineer is a very enthusiastic person and by working with him I have gained insights into how an engineer thinks. Even yesterday I had an hour-long session with him while installing a brand new gadget and interfacing it with my laptop.
    In short when persons from different verticals work together, it will be a pleasant experience if both of them have the humility to learn about the other's field. To run this world we need doctors, accountants, computer engineers, hair-dressers, sanitation workers and even rag pickers.

    Your simile about curd being stored in a mud pot and a plastic container is simply powerful to understand the relevance of technology. You will be surprised to know that we still handle a couple of clients having their accounts in the manual format. Though they have a turnover of Rs.15 crores in 5 different locations, they still use the old fashioned huge accounting ledgers. The advantage of a manual system is that it has a strong in- built audit trail, whereas in FA packages you need to specifically look for it.

    Thanks, Vanaja, for the illuminating fb.
    regards,
     
  10. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Hello Maya,

    Thanks a lot for joining me on the dais. And thanks for agreeing with my statement on domain expertise. I should hurry to add that it applies to all the domains be it accounting, cooking, cleaning a car or mowing the lawn.

    I had to reluctantly make that strong statement to the computer programmer because of his arrogance. In truth we need computer programmers in as much as we need accountants and doctors.

    Accounting is not an exact science like mathematics. I would say it is more concerned with human behaviour than the figures in the books. We have loads of accounting standards, both national and international. But still we have a dozen occasions every day when an accountant's discretion is required. That makes the domain expertise a valuable asset.

    I know that my job wont die. I am also aware that unless I change and adapt constantly, I might be rendered obsolete by the new wave of change that is sweeping all over the world.

    Thanks for the fb, Maya and thanks for agreeing to sit with me.

    regards,
     

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