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The ICSI New Syllabus, 2017- A Pole Star for Legion of Future Governance Professionals

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CS Makarand Lele, President of The Institute of Company Secretaries of India gives an insight on the ICSI New Syllabus, 2017

The Beginning….

The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) has constantly strived towards attaining academic excellence. In light of this, it has revised its syllabus from time to time in order to cater to the academic needs of students and to create a legion of ‘Governance Professionals’ who can serve the corporate world optimally. Continuing with the process of creating a reservoir of contemporary wisdom, ICSI undertook the process of revising its syllabus and brought out the New Syllabus (2017).

Genesis of New Syllabus

The only constant thing in the world is ‘change’ and it is insidious, i.e., be it political, economic, social, technological and legal environment. It is imperative that one keeps himself / herself updated with the latest developments in order to surmount the soaring professional challenges. In view of this, embracing advanced knowledge by pursuing a professional education can play a pivotal role in making the voyage of career smooth.


The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) have always strived to impart optimum knowledge to its stakeholders, i.e., students by undertaking revision of syllabus intensively from time to time. For instance, the syllabus which came into effect in 2012 was formulated in the light of then laws and regulations. But with the passage of time, there have been significant and important developments in the legal and regulatory framework since then which have opened a whole new arena of opportunities for the CS profession. The Companies Act, 2013, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, Goods and Services Tax, Securities Law and  SEBI Regulations, FEMA and sharp focus on Governance, Ethics, Risk and Compliance are some of such changes which require expert knowledge and competencies by the new age students of the institute.

Further, Government programmes such as Make in India, Start up India, Skill India and focus on Ease of Doing Business have created opportunities for professionals, like Company Secretaries, which in turn have necessitated bringing out a syllabus which can assist the future governance professionals to align with the Government policies. In light of these pertinent points, ICSI after delving deep into various significant facets, developed an unique syllabus which have ensconced the innovative concept of ‘Core’, ‘Ancillary to Core’ and ‘Hybrid’ in order  to cater to the academic and professional needs of  students.

The Core Subjects aim to create expertise in the prospective Governance Professionals and in view of this the following have been given emphasis- Company Law, Securities Laws, Insolvency Law, FEMA and GST. Next the Ancillary Subjects focus upon creation of ‘Working Knowledge’ in order to provide support to the Core Areas. The following have been covered under the Ancillary areas- Accounts, Finance, Taxation, Economic, Business and Commercial Laws and Business and Financial Management. Lastly, Hybrid Subjects ensure integration of Core and Ancillary areas. In view of this, the following have been kept under this category- Setting up of Business, Governance, Risk and Compliance Management, Drafting, Pleadings and Appearances, Secretarial Audit and Due Diligence, Restructuring and Insolvency Resolution, Corporate Funding, Corporate Disputes etc.

In order to cater to the academic needs of the ‘Company Secretaries-in-Making’, the New Syllabus comprises of Eight Papers at Executive Programme and Nine Papers at Professional Programme including one Paper to be opted by the students out of Eight Elective Papers namely, (i) Banking- Law & Practice; (ii) Insurance- Law & Practice; (iii) Intellectual Property Rights- Laws and Practices; (iv) Forensic Audit; (v) Direct Tax Law & Practice; (vi) Labour Laws & Practice; (vii) Valuations & Business Modelling and (viii) Insolvency- Law and Practice. Further, the inclusion of a subject titled, ‘Multidisciplinary Case Studies’ will definitely be of immense academic value as it will assist phenomenally in developing the comprehension and analytical skills of the students in solving various critical issues that they may witness in their professional career.

Further, the eye-catching facets of the New Syllabus, 2017 is embracing of ‘Progressive’ paper-wise scheme in the Executive Programme and Professional Programme to enable the students to acquire step-by-step knowledge as they move from one module to the next module in both the programmes.

Growth Oriented Approach

No profession can attain excellence unless and until it espouses a progressive approach. In this regard, syllabus of any professional course acts as a trajectory towards excellence. Accordingly, the ICSI New Syllabus which has been designed after pondering over various critical aspects provides ample scope of growth for the Company Secretaries. By incorporating pertinent concepts like, Insolvency; Winding up & Closure of Business; Valuation Principles & Framework; Strategic Analysis and Planning; Strategic Implementation and Control; Models / Approaches to measure Business Sustainability; Forensic Audit to name a few will assist prodigiously in creating a robust knowledge base of future Company Secretaries which in turn, will assist in discharging their professional obligations optimally.

Today business is not restricted to the frontiers of a country, rather it is rapidly foraying into offshore markets, numerous business deals in the area of merger and acquisition, purchase of raw material, patents etc. are getting inked. In light of this, one cannot afford to shy away from the bountiful opportunities offered by the changing legal, business and economic scenarios and need to invest sincere endeavours to harness the opportunities. In this regard, the ICSI New Syllabus will provide an opportunity to the ignited minds, i.e. the students of ICSI to elevate and excel in professional endeavours, thereby deriving maximum benefits from the opportunities available. It is important to note that Company Secretaries who are in employment need to act as ‘Corporate Managers’ and those who are in practice need to step in the role of ‘Corporate Advisors’. It is only possible when a Company Secretary is well equipped with the requisite knowledge and skills. ICSI New Syllabus 2017 has focused upon this crucial element of ‘Employability and Practice’ by ingraining both theoretical and practical facets.