Dr Tejinder Singh Rawal became a chartered accountant at the age of 21 in 1987 and that was just the start of a brilliant academic career which was to follow. Dr Rawal has multiple degrees to his credit and is an inspiration to many young and experienced professionals. He heads the CA firm T S Rawal and Co. and is passionate about what he does. Apart from being passionate about his professional life, Dr Rawal is also passionate about photography, bird watching, reading, writing, swimming, cycling and teaching Urdu. In an interview with Nation Next, Dr Tejinder Singh Rawal talks about his life, the Goods and Services Tax system, demonetisation and also has a piece of advice for young CA students and professionals.
You hold multiple degrees in courses like M.Com, M.A. (Economics, Urdu and Public Administration), LLB, FCA, CIRM, CISA and DISA. You are also a PhD in Taxation. What motivated you to pursue such a brilliant academic career?
Initially, I just wanted to be a chartered accountant. After I became one, most of the other degrees came to me automatically! I have a passion for reading, exploring new things and I found these courses a great way of pursuing my passion.
You qualified as a chartered accountant almost three decades back. How have the things changed in all these years pertaining to chartered accountancy?
Chartered accountancy back in my days was entirely a self-study course. Coaching classes were just there to help a little bit. It was tough but it gave a kind of self fulfilment. The nature of CA practice has changed dramatically as well. Keeping pace with the changing times, there are a range of activities a chartered accountant can get into these days.
What are the areas of practice for chartered accountants as professionals? What are your views about the current CA practice scenario?
With computerisation in the industry, new areas like Information Technology, System Audits, project financing etc. have become domains of a CA. Those who have edge in terms of technology are definitely going to dominate the market in future. Talking about the current practice scenario in Nagpur, there are many established professionals already. But if you have knowledge, skill and what it takes to be a good professional, you can definitely survive and make your own mark.
You have a deep knowledge of taxation being a PhD holder in it. What are your views on the Goods and Services Tax Bill (GST) which is going to be implemented in India soon?
Taxation in India is very complex. No legislation in the world has made so many amendments as we have. It’s like putting a patch on a piece of fabric over and over again and every time changing its appearance! Simplification is the need of the day. I would be happy to see tax laws being simplified in India and Goods and Services Tax Bill is a great step in that direction. Every state has its own system of taxation and they contradict each other rather than complementing each other. If GST is implemented, there is going to be an uniformity in the taxation system in the country and things like interstate smuggling and tax evasion will be avoided bringing a transparency in the whole taxation system. GST is an internationally tested and recognised system and when it comes into force, we will see nearly 1% increase in the GDP of our country. It can be a game changer for India!
What do you think of the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes announced by PM Modi in November 2016? Given the fact that GST will be implemented soon in India, will the demonetisation move benefit the smooth implementation of GST?
As far as the handling of black money is concerned, I think to some extent demonetisation has been a failure. Having said that, the key by product of demonetisation is bringing the black money in the formal economy. About six lakh crores of black money has now come into the banking system. This is going to have a long term positive effect on the economy and is going to give a great boost to the formal economy. Secondly, it is good that demonetisation has taken place right before the implementation of GST because GST and demonetisation are closely related. Demonetisation will bring black money in the formal economy and GST is all about formal economy. People will have to have some patience to see the positive effects of demonetisation. As for the government, the biggest challenge for the government now will be to retain the deposited black money in the banking system. They will have to try to encourage cashless transactions, discourage cash consumption and track all the conversions from white money to black money again which is likely to take place.
You are a visiting faculty at many business schools and colleges and you are often called upon to conduct a lot of workshops and seminars. How does it feel to be admired so much?
I feel overwhelmed by all the affection I get. I feel very happy being among students and passing my knowledge to them and it makes me feel great when I see them doing well. It’s almost like they are reciprocating my love! It gives me a lot of positivity. I learn a lot from the students and being amongst them makes me feel really energetic.
How important do you think are soft skills apart from academic qualifications for a young chartered accountant to survive in the cut throat competition?
Many young chartered accountants have good technical skills but they lack in soft skills and presentation skills. They need to develop their communication skills too. In the long run, whatever your profession may be, if you do not have an ability to sell your services, it will not take you far and chartered accountancy profession is no exception to that.
You’re passionate about a lot of things other than your profession. You’re a photographer and an active birdwatcher. Apart from being a renowned name in CA fraternity, you do everything you are passionate about. How do you manage time for such different activities and balance life so well?
I got involved in bird watching by accident! I wanted to hone my photography skills and click good pictures and birds seemed like a good subject for photography. Gradually, photography took a backseat and bird watching became a major passion for me. Over time, I have spotted some of the rarest birds in Maharashtra and India. Bird watching is a tough task but it becomes easy when you are passionate about it. About managing things, as they say, ‘If you have the inclination, you have the time!’ You can always prioritise by skipping the unnecessary things. A little bit of sacrifice is required but it is like opportunity cost. You lose something, but you gain more than what you lose!
You are a true inspiration for many students as well as professionals. What would you like to advise them?
For the CA students, I would say that do not suppress or kill your passion. Your articleship period is very important but do take out time for things you love to do. That will make your life even more productive. Even after becoming a professional, do something you are passionate about. That will energize you even more. Also, try to develop some special skills; something that would give you an edge over the others as in this competitive world, basic qualification is not enough. Acquire an additional qualification related to your specialized area where you want to practice or work as a professional. Stay focused and explore new things too. If you are willing to experiment and look at each day as an opportunity to grow, you will definitely excel!