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March 31: The board exam for adults

Corporate comedian Vikram Poddar on why the end of the financial year brings back the terrifying memories of board exams

Vikram Poddar | Published 31.03.23, 07:58 PM

Any child taking their board exams, or those who just completed them, will appreciate the terror of getting one letter wrong on your name’s spelling on the hall pass, or losing one of the many identity proofs or documentation required to prepare you for living a fruitful adult life. That training comes in handy when March 31 comes rolling along. Suddenly you are as terrified about losing that investment proof as you were about your hall ticket decades ago. (The columnist is not projecting). 

Governments rally, berate, cajole, threaten their underlings to generate all the data by March 31. Because Ambani said, “data is the new oil”, all employees are made to burn the midnight oil to generate results. Interns are considered disposable and can be added to the fire to keep it burning. It is believed that to improve things, all we have to do is measure them once a year. It is considered okay to ruin things as well in this endeavour for the greater good.


Perhaps we should take a cue from our finance-literate cousins and ask ourselves, “Where do I stand in this financial year versus the last?” So I thought back to my life in March 2022 and realised that the only metric that is up in my financial status is inflation. Which means, while we are on March 31, 2023, my finances have managed to travel back in time to March 31, 2021, in real terms. 

However, it is indeed a transient feeling. One minute, you are on March 31 trying to close everything, and the next day on April 1, you’re suddenly supposed to be up and running, opening everything. The transition is too jarring. Perhaps we need a financial year weekend to recharge our batteries — and the calendar gods have delivered in 2023! This is only fair given what else they delivered in 2023 so far. 

It might be a good idea to use this financial year weekend to look back and reflect on the missed opportunities to make investments on time. You lament the otherwise always sick relative not delivering this time and depriving you of the bills for medical reimbursement. If you’re a company CFO, you get put under enough stress to generate medical bills for several employees single-handedly. You wish you had made that tax-saving investment in PPF instead of blowing it all up during Durga Puja. Your boss reminds you that if the numbers for this financial year don’t add up, then you’ll have to start praying to Lakshmi as well. If you’re a typical Marwari CA staying in Kankurgachi or Ballygunge, you feel the same thrill as the cool kids do when they make out at Roxy, when you get an exemption before March 31. 

It can often be confusing if you work for an MNC as they have their own financial year, which is often similar to our calendar year. So for you, December 31 is both a financial and spiritual new year in every way. However, that is not the problem of your colonial masters… I mean overseas managers who ask for con-calls to not be scheduled during the Super Bowl. Even if the Indian arm is the IT partner for the Super Bowl. 

As I speak, our version of the Super Bowl — the IPL — is about to kick off.  But who made money and who lost, is something we will find out only after March 31 next year.

The author is a Marwari investment banker turned corporate comedian. The views expressed in this article are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.

Last updated on 31.03.23, 07:59 PM

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