Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXXIII No. 18, January 1-15, 2024

An accounting academian who left a lasting impression on whoever interacted with him

-- by Karthik Bhatt

R. Sivakumar, noted chartered accountant who passed away recently wore many hats with consummate ease. A man with a tremendous philanthropic bent of mind, many a social and religious cause greatly benefited from his commitment towards their objectives. His call to support a cause resonated with several of his colleagues and well-wishers, thus creating a larger impact for the society at large. With his tireless work ethic and spirit, he rose above personal challenges to leave a lasting impression on all those who had an opportunity to interact with him. This is a brief tribute to the multi-faceted personality.

Born on June 30, 1953, R. Sivakumar was the fifth of six siblings, born to M.K. Raman and N. Annapoorni. The couple originally hailed from Kerala and had settled in Madras in the 1940s. In 1960, when Sivakumar was around seven years of age, the family became one of the earliest residents of the then newly developed East Abhiramapuram locality in Mylapore. Sivakumar completed his schooling at the P.S. High School, before going on to graduate from the Vivekananda College with a degree in commerce. He also later obtained a Master’s Degree in the subject from A.M. Jain College. He qualified as a chartered accountant in 1976, apprenticing at the legendary D. Rangaswamy & Co and later became a cost accountant as well. Post qualification, he had a brief stint with M/s. Ashok Leyland, before starting practice with M/s. Karra and Co in 1982.

Teaching was however his biggest calling. Starting with the 1980s, he became renowned as a faculty for professional courses, especially the CA and CMA programmes. Costing and management accounting were his forte. His style of teaching was aimed at developing an in-depth understanding of the subjects, more than just an academic pursuit to pass the examinations. He adapted problems from renowned foreign authors such as C.T. Horngren, often adding his own twist to them, thus encouraging students to think out of the box to arrive at solutions. He was a visiting faculty at various colleges and training institutes and served as an academic council member of the MOP Vaishnav College, Nungambakkam. The overall welfare of the student community was central to his teaching career. His guidance and words of motivation greatly enabled several students who had faced failures to bounce back successfully. Many deserving students, who hailed from economically backward backgrounds were beneficiaries of his personal munificence. He also arranged for scholarships for their studies.

Apart from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, where he was involved as a faculty member and also as an examiner, Sivakumar was best-known for his close association with the country’s oldest body for accounting, audit and tax professionals, the ninety-year-old Society of Auditors. Over the course of his association, which lasted more than four decades, he was actively involved in successfully organising many seminars and conferences for the benefit of students and members and also the various jubilee celebrations. He also played an important role in the body purchasing its own premises in 2006, when one of his mentors C.A.K. Ananthachari was the President. He served as the President of the body between 2014 and 2017. His wish for a woman at the helm of affairs of the prestigious body was fulfilled with the election of his student C.A. Anusha Sreenivasan to the post in 2022. In recognition of his services to the Society, he was designated Chief Mentor of the body.

Sivakumar was involved in a wide range of social activities. He was a staunch devotee of the Ramakrishna Order. He was involved in a professional capacity as an auditor for a few centres of the organisation for a few years. He later on actively worked to raise funds for many activities of the Chennai Math. He made it a point to buy and present the publications of the Math on various occasions as a means of supporting their outstanding work and also spreading the teachings of the Order. He was a member of the managing committee and treasurer of the Vivekananda College for a long time. He was also a devotee of the Shakatapuram and Kanchi Mutts and an ardent supporter of the Anjaneya Temple in Alamelu Manga Puram in Mylapore. In 2013, he was inducted as an honorary member of the P.S. Educational Society and served as a correspondent of the P.S. High School (North) and P.S. Senior Secondary School. He was also associated with the illustrious Kalaimagal magazine and was part of its 90th year celebrations committee. He was also involved with the YMIA.

Sivakumar’s grand-aunt was the illustrious R. Sivabhogam, the first woman-chartered accountant of our country. He documented her inspiring life and journey and wrote about her in various publications. It was thanks to his efforts that a small booklet chronicling her life was brought out in 2006 on the occasion of her birth centenary. It was published by the D. Rangaswamy Academy for Fiscal Research, a body setup to promote research in various aspects of finance, accounting and taxation, of which he was one of the founding members.

In recent years, Sivakumar along with his colleague V. Pattabhiram, chartered accountant, teacher and writer authored a series of books documenting the inspiring lives of achievers who were chartered accountants. Compassionate Accountant, a biography of his guru D. Rangaswamy, who rose to become the President of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal was published in 2016. Flying High featured a dozen formidable success stories of chartered accountants such as Carnatic musician Sanjay Subrahmanyan (who was also one of his students), G. Narayanaswamy, a stalwart of the profession and R.V. ­Easwar, former judge of the Delhi High Court. The Nightingales, a three-part series featured notable women-chartered accountant achievers such as Vishaka Hari, harikatha artiste, Dr. Revathy Sriram, pioneer in the field of Information Systems Audit, educational entrepreneur Sarada Sriram and Sridevi Balasubramanian, noted chef.

Sivakumar’s demise has left an indelible void in the lives of numerous students, chartered accountants and the society at large.

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