Actuarial Society president voted out

In an unprecedented move, a majority of the Actuarial Society of India's (ASI) executive committee voted out its president Mr. Liyaquat Khan and vice-president Mr. P. A. Balasubramanian. A new team under the leadership of Mr. N.R. Kapadia has taken over the reins, bringing down the curtain on the former's active and controversial 10-month tenure.

Following his election defeat, Mr. Khan has resigned from ASI's executive committee. It is learnt that Mr. Balasubramanian too has followed suit.

The latest office bearers' election will go down in ASI annals as the one that broke various traditions established over the years, a point emphasised by Mr. Khan too. The convention he talks about is allowing the president to remain in office for a minimum period of two years. Though elections take place every year, the president and other office bearers are chosen on a consensus basis. Also, the incumbent vice-president is then elevated to the president's position automatically.

In a letter to ASI members soon after his resignation, Mr. Khan states, "I do not recollect in the history of ASI when such a convention had been broken earlier. I do not remember this to have happened ever in its more than 150 years of history of the Institute of Actuaries, UK, of which most of us are members."

Continuing further, he adds, " Reasons as to why, if there are any, the principle of keeping the office for two years was broken by those who themselves have been president, vice-president and senior members of the profession, are difficult to comprehend."

For the uninitiated, ASI's fellow and associate members form the electoral college to elect the
executive committee of the society. The executive committee in turn elects the office bearers amongst itself. One-third of the committee members have to retire by rotation every year. Mr. Khan, an executive committee member, had to retire by rotation this year and being eligible for re-election, he competed and polled 135 votes, the second highest in the election. Mr. Kapadia, the new president, secured 133 votes and Dr. R. Kannan of the Reserve Bank of India, polled the highest number of votes with 148 in his favour. Thus despite having secured more votes than Mr. Kapadia, the executive committee members decided against Mr. Khan for the post of president of this organisation.

Mr. Khan's ten-month tenure was an active and controversial one. The following are the achievements listed out by him:

  • Signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Institute/Faculty of Actuaries to enhance capabilities of ASI students in the global context.
  • Holding all examinations twice a year and forming an Actuarial Incentive Scheme to facilitate quicker success, throwing up more actuarial human resource to meet the increasing demand.
  • Starting counselling and tutorship for a few subjects.
  • Increase activities in relation to the International Actuarial Association to place ASI at a level at which its members, particularly the younger ones, are seen to be competent in the global context.
  • Organising effectively Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programmes in life and general insurance to facilitate update of knowledge and enhancement of capabilities by members.
  • Focussing on the magazine The Actuary India and securing financial commitments from advertisers.
  • Creating a website and securing corporate help for its improvement and development. Also,
    modernising the ASI office by installing a mini-server with a terminal to all staff with e-mail IDs.
  • Re-organising and strengthening the ASI secretariat by induction of younger staff to ensure support to members in general and students in particular. The visible results are the way course material and other material is sent to members. This also includes finalisation of audit, accounts and holding of an Annual General Meting (AGM) in June. (In the past, AGMs were held in August.)
  • Putting in place a system for processing and issuance of a Certificate of Practice (COP) for appointed actuaries, strictly as per rules approved by the executive committee.
  • Building up relations with the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA) to ensure continuation and enhancement of regulatory role of the actuary in all regulatory processes, including general insurance.

In the process, Mr. Khan ruffled many ASI feathers. For instance, the issuance/refusal of a COP to some experienced actuaries (See a related story, ) and changing entry norms for students.

Not wanting to join issues with him now, members say ASI president is first among the equals in the executive committee with no special powers and the committee takes crucial decisions. But it is said that Mr. Khan kept the executive committee in dark about the conditions to be laid down for the award of a COP.

Says Mr. Khan, "Prior to the election, some executive committee members asked me to withdraw from the presidential contest as numbers in the executive committee are stacked against me but I simply refused and got voted out by a margin of two votes." In his letter addressed to the members, Mr. Khan gives the break-up of those who voted in his favour and against.

The new team
The following persons have been elected to manage ASI's affairs:

  • Mr. Kapadia, former executive director LIC - president,
  • Mr. P.C. Gupta, former LIC chairman - vice-president
  • Mr. M.G. Diwan, honorary secretary.

The new team assumes office at a crucial juncture when the bill to convert ASI into a chartered institute along the lines of other professional bodies like chartered/cost accountants' institutes is pending with the Parliament.

While the new governing body will take a relook at some of the decisions taken earlier, say stipulations relating to award of a COP etc, it has to safe guard its own turf.

It is learnt that ASI has received a letter from the government asking it to amend its by-laws to enable non-actuaries to head the professional body. The government's idea is to create one more slot for the IAS babus with ASI to be converted into a statutory institute. If that happens, it will become a precedent and the babudom can demand the same with other professional bodies.