Inherent sincerity and nobility made Shri Sorabji Shapurji Engineer (1883-1973) a tower of inspiration to a generation of accountants of his time. He is also known to the Indian accounting community as the acclaimed guru of the first President of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), Shri Gopaldas Padamsey Kapadia.
Shri Engineer was contemporaneous with the profession of accountants/auditors enjoying a high status, especially during 1913, the year of the enactment of the Indian Companies Act. There was nothing like this profession, as an auditor of a joint stock company used to be a well-known or a respectable person. It was also the time, when the Society of Incorporated Accountants and Auditors (SIAA), London, had prominent Indian accountants like Shri K. S. Aiyar and Shri N. R. Mistri on their roll. In retrospective, it is a reminder of our own medieval history, when musrifs (accountants) and mustawfis (auditors) used to be among the most influential professionals of an empire.
Shri Engineer, after passing the B.A. examination in December, 1904, got his three-year (1905-1908) article ship under Shri K. S. Aiyar, and was first article to serve in India under an approved Incorporated Accountant. This provision to serve an articleship in India had become a reality only in 1905. Then Shri Engineer went to London to appear at his Intermediate and Final Examinations of the SIAA. He belonged to the first batch of duly-qualified SIAA accountant/auditor. He completed the course in 1909 and joined Shri Aiyar’s firm and served the same for five years (1909-1914). Shri Engineer founded his own firm in March, 1914 in Bombay as well as in Ahmedabad. The Section 144 of the Indian Companies Act, 1913, empowered accountants like Shri Engineer, which stipulated the qualifications of an auditor.
Exactly a hundred years back in May, 1910, Shri Engineer had founded the Association of Auditors and Accountants in India with other prominent Indian accountant-auditors of his time, which included Shri K.S. Aiyar and Sir S.B. Billimoria. In October, 1913, he was appointed as the first Professor of Accounting & Auditing in the Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics, Bombay, and his job was to prepare the students for the degree of Bachelor of Commerce. He trained hundreds of students/articles, which included two past Presidents of the ICAI (India), Shri G.P. Kapadia and Shri C.C. Chokshi, and many first partners of eminent chartered accountant firms of India.
A noteworthy contribution of Shri Engineer has been his substantial role in drafting of the History of the Accountancy Profession in India. He is known to have assisted his student Shri G.P. Kapadia with many authentic anecdotes and narratives about some prominent and towering accountants of the formative period and their times. He contended their significant contributions to the accountancy profession in India as the derivative of credibility. We, as readers, get to witness a glimpse of this contribution of Shri Engineer’s while reading the History where Shri Kapadia very fondly remembers his guru and his stories. Shri Kapadia respectfully recalls him as a source of inspiration to scores and scores of articled clerks and writes: (Shri Engineer)……. moulded the careers of hundreds of members.
Series: Legends in the Accounting Tradition of India
THE CHARTERED ACCOUNTANT
(JOURNAL OF THE INSTITUTE OF CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS OF INDIA)
VOLUME 58. NO. 12. JUNE, 2010
[FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION ONLY TO HIGHLIGHT THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF A BRILLIANT LEGENDARY PARSI ZARTHOSHTI]