Step aside… Stand apart…Watch it!!!

January, 2021

Dear Friends

First issue of the month, year and decade for Samhita. That too after a tumultuous 2020 that has left us all shaken. I am tempted to look at only pleasant things in life but can I close my eyes to something happening within my precincts, my backyard ? There is so much of pent up frustration, so much of angst, so much of indignation amongst the professionals dealing with compliances (read Company Secretaries & Chartered Accountants) – for their own self as well as for the clients they are serving (read MSMEs & Startups). There is enough and more said about the non-functioning of the MCA portal, technical glitches leading to late hours of working for the professionals, loss of precious manhours and heavy penalties / additional fee for the corporates beyond 31st December, 2020. While corporates would do well to put their compliance systems in place that ensure correct and timely flow of information to professionals who ensure filings for them, can we request the Ministry to also ensure a glitch-free portal please that fails as we come closer to the due date, completely crashes on the last day but surprisingly starts functioning perfectly from 1 minute past midnight ?? I do not want to dwell more on this since the problem is clear – at least to people on this side i.e. professionals & corporates. It has been extensively represented too directly, through chambers, institutes, online and offline media (just google Extend CFSS 2020 & LLP Settlement Scheme). The question is – is it clear to the one to whom it matters ? Ministry of Corporate Affairs ? Do they recognise it as a problem to be solved ? Does not seem to me considering the inadequate response or lack of it received so far.

I have some perspectives to offer from two very mundane domestic chores. It matters from what distance you see something. How close or how far ? Today as Jaya was standing outside the bathroom, she noticed that the tiles below the mirror were stained with dirt and watermarks. When she pointed out to the maid, she argued that she cleans it everyday. Jaya asked her to step out of the room, stand at a distance and watch for sometime from different angles. The maid sheepishly admitted that yes, it is not clean enough and indeed she was not cleaning it. Jaya realised, from a close distance everything looked perfect but as she got farther, the actual stains started showing up. She learnt that if one becomes too involved with some activity, it is difficult to appreciate if it is carried out well enough or not. It pays to step aside, disengage for a while and watch from a distance to understand if anything is broken and if it requires some fixing. But once it is clear, it must be handled with a sense of purpose, with a sense of urgency before the issue gets out of hand.

A similar lesson I learnt from the everyday chore of plucking jasmine flowers from my garden. As winter steps in, the number of flowers reduce. I bend to my right, left, forward, backward and all angles that my not-so-flexible body permits me in different postures, to reach out to the creeper that is leaning more towards the neighbour’s plot in search of the sun. I feel disappointed that there aren’t enough flowers in the basket but each time I step back or sidewards and watch from a distance, I see the gentle sunrays falling on the white petals. And lo, a flower seems to appear from nowhere, from the same branch which had nothing on it a little while ago. A whole new bunch of jasmines seem to taunt me to find them. I feel stupid wondering how on earth did I miss them earlier, when I was so close to them, when they were literally under my nose. But I soon realise, both the sight and scent of the fresh jasmine is better experienced from a distance and not when I am too close. It pays to detach yourself completely from certain situations, step aside, stand apart, watch it, observe it keenly, take a bird’s eyeview and then discover the obvious unfold.

Now, which of the above will the MCA adopt ?

Will it develop a keen hawk-like eyes of Jaya, the homemaker to find the stains proactively ? or
Will it continue to bury its head in the sand, like the proverbial Ostrich ?
Will it continue to be like the stubborn maid who refuses to recognise the stains until pointed out ? or
Will it accept that something is broken and requires to be fixed urgently ?
Will it stand close to the creeper and continue to look for the fragrant jasmines randomly ? or
Will it step back, find the right position and watch from a distance to spot the elusive flowers ?
Will it realise that it needs to shift its stand ?

Perhaps, the other side (represented by professionals and corporates) needs to adopt a similar strategy too. Then and only then the atmosphere of mistrust and angst will die down, opening up channels of communication and purposeful action. Ease of Doing Business calls for this and more, not just climbing up a few rankings for World Bank !

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