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Witty accountant

G Narayanaswamy, GN to his vast army of friends and admirers, was sharp, quick-witted and intelligent.

Born to a village school headmaster and mother who milked cows to make two ends meet, the man who would later became the doyen of the accounting profession, was a typical rural lad who struck urban riches. In an extraordinary career, he rubbed shoulders with top businessmen, leading politicians, and urbane CAs.

He interned under the tutelage of his uncle S Venkataraman. GN set up and ran the Madras Office of S Venkataraman & Co. even while he was a 16-month-old Intern. The moment he qualified, he received a job offer from a high paying MNC. He consciously skipped it because “it would be ungrateful to let down a boss who had invested time and money in him.”

In the early years of practice, when he had zero clients, GN would visit the IT department where his brother in law worked, get introduced to the staff there, discussed matters relating to IT law, application, and administration, made new friends. These pals would come in handy in later years.

GN used to say: “There are no hard rules on whether you should accept an engagement. Suffice to say, the professional must ensure that he keeps himself away from business dealings of the client and advise him to remain always within the four corners of the law.”

GN counted among others Rajaji, the first Governor-General of independent India, and Chief Ministers Jayalalithaa as his clients. His own political thoughts were free market and he was part of the Swatantra Party. He was a member of the regional council (the equivalent of legislative assembly) of the ICAI during 1958-61. Then during 1979-88 he got into the central council (the equivalent of parliament) and was a member of the Disciplinary Committee. At the council, he rubbed shoulders with some of the best brains in the country and learned how it is important to “disagree without being disagreeable.”

GN says an imperfect decision arrived at by consensus is better than a perfect ‘conclusion’ reached at by majority.

GN was wit personified. I was a speaker at a National Conference that he chaired. I spoke on Initial Public Offerings and had a lot of queries from the audience to be responded. Not allowing me to answer beyond a certain number of questions, he told me, “Your IPO is oversubscribed.”

As a speaker, he was thick on content, wit and wisdom. At 92, he lived a full circle of life.

Such involvement in public affairs!

Most professionals are content with focus on their chosen profession. Very few utilise their knowledge and stature actively involving in social amelioration. G Narayanaswamy had an exemplary record in this.

My admiration for GN is for his vast contributions to public life. For over four decades he has been active in liberally spending his time and resources on public discussions on a wide range of economic issues.

The Rajaji Centre of Public Affairs has been conducting without fail weekly programmes on current topics. GN presented speakers with wide range of expertise and also richly contributed to the discussions. The Society of Auditors, The Triplicane Cultural Academy, are some of the institutions GN was closely involved. His deep interest in public affairs and his noblesse oblige spirit perpetuate his memory.


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