Jump to: Memani (9)   http://www.the-asian.com/business/99feb/in-memani.htm   [Track Page]   [No Images]


. Biz News
. Cover Story
. People
. Markets
. Your Portfolio
. Tech Talk
. Online Charts
. The Insider


How interested are you in trading stocks online? Please take a minute to let us know. We would appreciate it.
tab end

8 February 1999

The IMF's new munim


AT 60, Kashi Nath -> Memani is a contented man. With reason. The International Monetary Fund has picked him as one of the three most important men in the world to scrutinise its own account books. And -> Memani, chairman of the Delhi-based accountancy consultancy firm Ernst & Young India, is thrilled at being the first Indian to be conferred such a prestigious assignment.

"More than personal glory, you must view this as the global recognition of Indian accountancy practices," says the lean and tall -> Memani. If the accounting wizard, who hails from Dhulian in West Bengal's Murzidabad district, is to be believed, Indian accounting practices are more or less at par with the United States General Accounting and Audit Practices (US GAAP). Then how do you account for the multicrore securities scandal and the plethora of other scams that hit the Indian financial and corporate scene? "Our accountants and auditors are world class. But if you don't have proper systems in place, what can you do?" says the Marwari munim.

His family has been living in West Bengal for the last 100 years. Even today, two of his brothers are living and doing business there. Educated at Scottish Church College in Calcutta, -> Memani came out with flying colours in Commerce. He headed straight for S R Batliboi & Co in 1965 as a chartered accountancy trainee. Three years later, he became a partner. But Calcutta was not to his liking. "I was getting stiff and wanted to shift out and quietly suggested to my partners to let me go and set up our Delhi office," says he.

Well, that was the turning point in his career. "In 1971, I reached Delhi and found a place at Kasturba Gandhi Marg, near Connaught Place, and was lucky enough to get space in the only high-rise building there. We were three of us then -- an assistant and a peon besides myself. Today we are 300 plus in Delhi alone and 900 all over India."

-> Memani was so good at human relations -- the current rage in corporate India -- those two employees work for him even today.

Around 1989, when Arthur Young and Ernst & Winnie merged worldwide to become Ernst & Young, -> Memani had some problems. While S R Batliboi & Co was working with Arthur Young, Ernst & Winnie had an arrangement with Billimoria & Co. Unfortunately, the Indian companies did not see any merit in coming together. "We were culturally different and for some time the new global outfit allowed both of us to handle their work in India," he adds.

Soon, Ernst & Young felt that such an arrangement would not do and after much scrutiny chose to work exclusively with S R Batliboi & Co.

Today, -> Memani heads Ernst & Young India's operations. Though he left Calcutta over a quarter century ago, he still loves his Bengali roots. "I am not a Bengali by caste. The moment I sense I am in the midst of Bengalis, I break into Bengali," says he. At home, he uses Marwari with his wife, English and Hindi with his son Rajeev (a partner at Ernst & Young) and daughter Ritu (studying Public Relations in London).

Come April, -> Memani will be heading for New York to attend the first meeting of the IMF audit committee. "There is no monetary gain in this high-profile job. Just honorary," he says. Besides -> Memani, the committee has two representatives -- one from the United Kingdom and the other from Argentina. But until his flight takes off, it is business as usual at his spacious, spick-n-span South Delhi office.