Acceptance Speech by BCAS President CA Mihir Sheth

Respected Past Presidents, Past President of the ICAI Shri N. P. Sarda sir, Outgoing President Abhay, my OB colleagues Chirag, Kinjal, Anand and Zubin, Managing Committee members, Seniors, distinguished invitees, Core group members, friends, ladies and gentlemen..

As I stand here today what resonates in my mind is this incredible and defining journey of mine at the BCAS. It has not only shaped my thinking but also my life over last few years that I have been associated. What an awesome institution this is!  How do you describe it?  - Perhaps words from an ordinary mortal like me may not be able to express the intensity of the appreciation and respect I have and I will have to borrow from a literary genius of Shakespeare to describe it like how he described Cleopatra. He said... “Age cannot whither her, nor can customs stale her infinite variety of charm, while others cloy the hungers they feed she feeds where she is most hungered”. You can see how aptly this description fits verbatim to the BCAS. While there are institutions where members yearn and covete for the leadership position, here is one institution that can pick up even an ordinary soul and convert him in to a leader just by its fine traditions, work ethics, culture and values. This I believe is the hallmark of a great institution.

Samuel Johnson, who was a prolific english writer and an architect of modern english language said ‘Knowledge is of two types – One you know the subject yourself and other.. you know the people from where you can acquire it”.  Admitting candidly how little I know by myself, I am going to draw heavily from the knowledge pool of BCAS members. I draw my comfort from the epitaph on Andrew Carnegie’s grave which says “Here lies the man who knew how to work and learn from the people far more capable and knowledgeable than he was”. I am deeply aware how eager each member is to share his knowledge and expertise with others and personally, this is what I have come to truly appreciate about BCAS. Each of my predecessors, colleagues and friends at the BCAS have contributed so much to widen my canvass, open my eyes to the possibilities I did not see, and shift the paradigm to view things differently. It has been a sheer delight to experience it. No wonder William Blake said ‘Knowledge is an eternal delight’

Before I share my theme for the year, let me briefly share my journey at the BCAS. Though I had been a member for long time, my active association started only many years later when I enrolled as participant in one of the HRD leadership camp. Soon thereafter, that one time association became an onward journey. Never once did I aspire nor dreamt -that one day this great institution will catapult me to the august position of the President. Position which was once held by a few of my seniors like Chinubhai Chokshi, B N Pardiwalla, N V Iyer, Ratanshaw Damanwaala. Past Presidents of BCAS and also partners at my alma-matter C. C. Chokshi & Co.

I am deeply thankful to those who have made this journey possible.  I thank my late parents who would have been very proud to see me here today. I thank them for giving me the right value system. I thank Late Shri Pradeepbhai Shah for who demonstrated through his own living example the virtues of humane leadership. Thank you Awani, my wife who has stood behind me for your rock solid support in this journey. Thanks CA Ambrish Mehta my brother- in- law for your counselling right from my college days,  thank  you Devang my senior colleague at the work for taking over many responsibilities to make me free for the BCAS. Thanks to the immediate past presidents Abhay, Suhas, Manish, Sunil and Narayan who have hand-held me in my journey with their extremely useful guidance. Thanks to the HRD Committee with which I share a deep emotional connect- where its respective Chairmen Rajesh Muni, Mayur Nayak and Nitin Shingala groomed me to traverse this journey.  And lastly, but not the least, there is one person whom I cannot thank enough. He is the person because of whom I could clear my CA exams. Ladies and Gentlemen I am sure- like me there may be thousands of CAs today who will share this deep rooted gratitude for the person I am referring to. Ladies and Gentlemen- he is none other than our beloved, adorable, one and only Shri N. P Sarda sir.  Sir- I bow to you with utmost humility and seek your blessings. But for your lessons on Holding Company and Standard Costing, CA qualification would have only been a  distant dream for me. I can only pay my tributes through this subhashita in Sanskrit which says

What it means is that I Bow to you, because everything I have gained in life is because of you.

Let me turn to my theme for the year.

Benjamin Franklyn once said that it is so simple to be effective but so difficult to be simple. Therefore, in deciding my theme for the year, I have tried to make things simple by focusing on systemic improvements. So much has been already done by my predecessors that justice would not be served if I abandoned the good work done under those initiatives and tried to reinvent the wheel creating complications. Therefore in my opinion the wisdom is in continuing with some of those initiatives with renewed vigour, ease and simplicity to be effective. Last year under Abhay’s able leadership number of initiatives were taken. In the next 2-3 years all these would have positively transformational effect for the BCAS. Most relate to the adoption of new technology and syncing the trajectory of plans with the demand of current times.  My effort is to continue in that direction and take forward the great work. Hence, I have integrated in my theme many of those trend setting initiatives.  Ladies and Gentlemen- with this preamble, let me have the pleasure of unveiling my theme for the year 2022-23….. It is named ‘EASE’.

What are the focus areas where this Ease is sought to be provided? Let me briefly explain.
i.    Ease of Access to the knowledge
ii.   Ease of Embracing Emerging Opportunities
iii.  Ease of Reskilling
iv.  Ease of Networking and Reach

Ease of access to the Knowledge is planned to be provided by conducting Hybrid programmes and expanding the technology footprints by encouraging podcasts, short videos, and promotion of archived programmes on course-play as also digitizing and cataloguing the library

Ease of Embracing Emerging Opportunities is planned to be provided by planning LM and workshops on Data Analytics, MSME incentives, Finance & Capital Markets, AI, Valuations, Digital assets, and PLI etc.

Ease of Networking is planned to be provided by expanding the geographical reach of the lecture meetings, workshops and Study Circles in Mumbai suburbs, collaborations with local associations especially in non-metro cities, felicitation programme for new CAs, mobile app and its messaging feature and job fair in addition to the regular programmes being conducted. Ease of Reach is sought to be provided through fine tuning of website, SEO and active social media campaigning for the programmes and activities of the BCAS and focusing on students’ programmes.

Ease of Reskilling is planned to be provided by reinitiating Professional Accounting Course through active back up of HRD Committee, programmes on soft skills, digital orientation for senior citizens and short certification programmes for management skills and other current areas.

What does EASE signify?

EASE is an acronym for Excellence Achieved by Systemic Empowerment. Empowerment comes out of Excellence. Excellence is achieved when Knowledge is backed by an appropriate Skill and applied in the right context. For the purpose a few systemic improvements may be required to provide ‘Ease’. The result will Empower people.

You may have a question as to how this is going to be accomplished. The answer is simple.

Visualize, Virtualize and Actualize and Globalize. All that we need to do is to visualize, by brainstorming with the think- tanks of the BCAS, the activities covering above areas. Next step is to plan how they can be virtualized so that the benefits can be multilateral. Finally, we form an action committee to oversee each area of the initiative under OBs to actualize and globalize it. I am sure a lot could be achieved with your blessings cooperation, guidance and most importantly shared pool of knowledge.

L&G I started my speech with an ode to this great institution. Let me end my speech also in the same context. We will be celebrating our 75th year shortly. This is one voluntary institution that has stood the test of times despite the fact that Profession today is passing through interesting times. On one hand there is an identity crisis while on the other hand there are host of opportunities. While enlightened lot is availing themselves of the opportunities with catalytic support of institutions like BCAS, there are cynics who proclaim that CA profession is finished and nobody can do anything. In their perception, institutions like BCAS have outlived their utility. I would like to give fitting reply to those dooms-day seekers by way of a poem.   ………The name of the poem is…  

And that is why… that is why Ladies and Gentlemen… that is why… every time I read this quote by Winston Churchill about great English king Alfred, I cannot help but relate it to BCAS.  With due apologies to Churchill I have modified it to substitute King Alfred by BCAS. Here is the quote...

 “That sublime ability to rise above the whole force of circumstance, to remain unbiased by the extremes of success and failure, to persevere in the teeth of challenges and yet greet returning fortune with a cool eye, to have faith in its team despite repeated setbacks raises BCAS far above the turmoil of tumultuous setbacks to its pinnacle of deathless glory”.

With that L&G I conclude my acceptance speech seeking your blessings and best wishes for the year ahead.

With Best Regards,
CA Mihir Sheth


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