Actuarial science—a lucrative option
S. K. Gupta

f you are dreaming of a highly rewarding and challenging career, then have a look at actuarial science (insurance). Of the multiple career options available today, a career in actuarial science stands out in many aspects. This profession offers you rewards in terms of intellectual challenge, status, job satisfaction and earnings.

Mystery of alma mater
C.D. Verma

he word alma mater has become a general cliche, used for an educational institution, a school, a college, or a university. But more than that, this word, which in Latin means a bounteous mother, or a fostering mother, has given a very interesting institution to the academic word, called the alumni.

CA certification opens door to many jobs

Pervin Malhotra, Director, CARING
Q I want to be a CA, but I have heard that it is difficult to manage it along with graduation. Please suggest what I should do. Rupali Pant



Actuarial science—a lucrative option
S. K. Gupta

If you are dreaming of a highly rewarding and challenging career, then have a look at actuarial science (insurance). Of the multiple career options available today, a career in actuarial science stands out in many aspects. This profession offers you rewards in terms of intellectual challenge, status, job satisfaction and earnings.

An actuary is a business professional who analyses the financial consequences of risk. Actuaries use mathematics, statistics and financial theory to study uncertain future events, especially those concerning insurance and pension programmes.

Actuaries may work for insurance companies, consultation firms, government departments, corporations, hospitals, banks and investment firms or more generally, in businesses that need to manage financial risk. A career in actuarial science is better described as a “business” career with a mathematical basis.

Actuaries’ work is intellectually challenging and they are highly paid. Actuaries are key players in management teams of companies that employ them. In a fast-changing world, with new risks and the need for more creative ways to tackle these, there is a tremendous opportunity for professional growth in an actuarial career and the pleasure of life-long learning. Actuaries work in a pleasant environment, alongside other professionals and enjoy the respect of their peers.

This is why the actuarial profession has been rated as one of the top five jobs in the US, according to Jobs Rated Almanac.

The cost of study is low and students have the option of “earn-while-you-learn”. There are no visa hurdles and there is no requirement of GRE, GMAT, SAT or any other entrance exams.

One can opt for this career, if one has any of the following qualifications:

  • 10+2 in any discipline with 85 per cent marks in maths.
  • Graduate with 55 per cent marks in maths/stats/econometrics/computer science.
  • Engineers in any discipline or equivalent.
  • MBA (Finance)/CA/CWA/MCA.

A course in actuarial science can be pursued from any of the following institutes:

Actuarial Society of India, Mumbai. (

Institute of Actuaries, Oxford, UK (

Faculty of Actuaries, UK

The course consists of 16 papers. If can be completed between four and five years, depending on the time devoted by the student for the preparation of the examinations.

The demand for actuaries in India will be very high following privatisation of the insurance industry and starting of public pension schemes. This sector will be requiring around three lakh professionals by 2007.

It is no secret that actuaries are highly paid. A beginner can expect a salary of around 30 lakh per year in the UK and the USA, and Rs 8 lakh per year in India.

Career opportunity starts as soon as a student completes the first fine papers. Stipend for an actuarial trainee per month in India is around Rs 25,000 per month.

For details of the actuarial profession, visit In case of any query, please mail at

Mystery of alma mater
C.D. Verma

The word alma mater has become a general cliche, used for an educational institution, a school, a college, or a university. But more than that, this word, which in Latin means a bounteous mother, or a fostering mother, has given a very interesting institution to the academic word, called the alumni.

Alma mater was originally a title given by the Romans, especially to Ceres and Cybele. Later, in English it came to be referred in school and universities as fostering mothers to their alumni. The root of the word alumni is again a Latin word, alumnus, meaning a foster son, or a pupil.

Cybele is an Asiatic goddess, the great mother, a goddess of the power of nature, identified by the Greeks with Rhea (that is the Earth). Ceres, the goddess of cereals or agriculture, also represents the generative power of nature.

In the ancient Roman world, the Cerealia festival was held in honour of Ceres from April 12 to 19 every year. This festival was connected with the growth of corn.

Interestingly, the Cerealia festival is like the Baisakhi festival held every year on April 13 to herald the ripening and reaping of the corn.

Both festivals — Cerealia and Baisakhi — are symptomatic of abandoned gaiety, joviality and animated blithesomeness, when one is in a spirit of oneness, oblivious of status, rank, caste and creed.

It is the spirit of fun and frolic, contained in the Cerealia festival, held in honour of Ceres and Cybele and bestowed with the title of alma mater — that is manifested in the meetings of alumni associations, when former students of an educational institution gather and let themselves go into the lanes of golden memories of the past.

Still more interesting are the etymological connotations of alma mater and alumni vis-a-vis the Indian context that exalt the teacher-taught relationship to a personal level of foster parents and foster children. This relationship is envisaged in the literal meaning of the word Upanishad, that is to sit near, or at the feet of the guru, to be reared up, or led forth. This connotation is further accentuated by the word educate, the root of which is educatus, meaning to rear up or lead forth. Hence the word of ‘dwija’, that is twice born. A man is first born from the womb of his mother. He takes a second birth when he gains knowledge at the feet of his guru, his foster parent.

The formation of an alumni association is obviously inspired by this trans-personal relationship between former students and their alma mater. A student never forgets his alma mater. Nor does he forget to respect his teachers, notwithstanding the teachers having lost the Upanishadic gloss and reverence in the present age when the teacher-taught relationship no longer remains sacrosanct.

Almost every college, particularly those with big banners, have alumni associations.

Recently, at a meeting of an alumni association, the scene was emotionally charged, with everyone embracing each other with tears in eyes. It was a display of an upsurge of golden moments of the past with a passion which one experiences when one meets his first love after many years.

There was no spirit of competition. Some came in big limousines, some on two-wheelers, and others on state transport buses. But none was status conscious. All were one, their old-selves.

CA certification opens door to many jobs

Pervin Malhotra, Director, CARING

Q I want to be a CA, but I have heard that it is difficult to manage it along with graduation. Please suggest what I should do. Rupali Pant

A Are you good with numbers? CAs and auditors do more than just watch the books. A good CA can help a client, whether an individual or a corporation, set a strategy for financial growth and success. A CA certification opens doors to many jobs.

You can start training for Chartered Accountancy immediately after 10+2 by enrolling for the 10-month Foundation Course (now PE-I). According to the new course pattern, you must clear your Inter (now PE-II) exams before you can do your ‘articleship’. This way you will save some time.

Although BA/BCom (P) is relatively easy, BCom (H) is more demanding. But as a commerce student, you get an added advantage: the BCom syllabus is similar to that of Intermediate and Final CA papers (although the latter is more advanced).

However, if you find it impossible to balance the CA preparation together with your college studies, you can defer pursuing the CA course till you have completed your graduation.

With the requisite 50 per cent marks at the Bachelor’s level, you can directly enrol for the PE-II followed by the ‘articleship’. While this may take somewhat longer, it will be less stressful. On the other hand, the advantage of going the P-I route is that you get a first-hand feel of what is involved.

Even if at this stage you decide that finance and number crunching are not exactly your cup of tea, nothing is lost. You can opt for any other professional course at the postgraduate level.

As for the second part of you query, yes the CA course is tough - going by the large number of students who enrol as compared to the minuscule number that pass out each year (barely 3-4 per cent). But then it’s not very different with many of the other top-of-the-line professional courses either. While some like engineering, medicine or Civil Services or MBA are difficult to enter, others like CA, CS, CFA etc. are difficult to clear. So it all balances out in the end!

Not many manage to clear the final exams in the very first attempt. Which also means you must be prepared to work awfully hard and consistently, if you wish to succeed.

But if you go at it single-mindedly, making sure you’ve understood the concepts clearly, you will! I know of several who’ve cracked it in their first go!. For a complete overview of this field and the career opportunities it opens up, you may like to refer to Caring’s Guide to Careers in Chartered Accountancy.

Defence services

Q Is there any opportunity for Arts (in Class 12) students in the defence services? Please advise.

Jimmy Deol

A There are a number of alternatives for Arts students if they wish to join the forces.

1. As a school passout, you can join at the Cadet Entry level in the Army wing of the National Defence Academy (NDA). Selection here is on the basis of a written (NDA) exam, followed by SSB tests and interview, and a medical examination.

For details, refer to the UPSC website (

2. After you graduate, you can join at the Direct Graduate Entry level in the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehra Dun and the Officers’ Training academy (OTA), Chennai, by appearing for the Combined Defence Services Exam.

3. Non-engineering postgraduates are also eligible for induction into the Army Education Corps (AEC), Military Farms, Army Ordnance Corps (AOC), and to the Education Branch of the Indian Navy. Opportunities for Direct Entry for both graduates as well as postgraduates exist in the Ground Duty branches and as fighter/ air traffic controllers in the Indian Air Force too.

4. Also, if you choose to do professional law (BA LLB) after Class XII, the Judge Advocate-General’s Department of the Indian Army is a good place to apply to for induction to its Short Service Commission. Similar opportunities for law graduates exist in the Navy.

5. Also, if you are considering a career in the Territorial Army, as a graduate being medically fit, you are eligible to join the Territorial Army Infantry as officers.

Other than these, there’s ample opportunity to contribute your services to the armed forces, by either joining any of the numerous military schools across the country as a teacher, or by specialising in religion to join the Army as a preacher.

Consider your aptitude

Q Both my parents are dentists. So it was always taken for granted that I would also follow in their footsteps. I like the idea of doing medicine because I know what is entailed. But on the other hand, I have not explored any other option. Am I doing the right thing?

Himanshu Datta, on e-mail

A If you grow up seeing your parents enjoy what they do, it’s natural to think about doing it yourself. Going into the same career can give you major advantages. You will not only have grown up seeing what is required in the job, but also what is required to succeed in it.

Without realising it, you will have picked up a whole lot of ‘inside’ tips just listening to your parents talk about their work at the dinner table. Being able to bounce off ideas also makes a big difference, besides strengthening family bonds. You also have a readymade list of contacts that can make your entry into the field a lot easier.

The only flipside I can possibly think of is being "pressured" to measure up if your parents have been very successful in their field. But that can act as a great spur to better your achievement, which is a good thing.

It is equally important to consider your own interests and aptitude carefully because they can help you find a rewarding career.

Some other factors must also be examined when exploring educational and career opportunities. Think about how your interests, abilities, experiences, personality, and values will influence your satisfaction and success. These factors are also important in career exploration — just as important as your interests. For example, certain fields require a lot more study and work than others. If you find that hard work and study do not appeal to you, take this into account when considering a career.


Q Could you please tell me about the job prospects in homoeopathy?

Bharat Pargal, Ludhiana

A From being considered a non-scientific last resort, homoeopathy is now a preferred, system of medicine both in India and abroad. An indication of its popularity lies in the fact that the best homoeopathic medicines are manufactured by German and American companies.

With the spiralling cost of allopathic treatment, a large number of people are beginning to prefer homoeopathy, both for chronic as well as common ailments.

Homoeopathy offers virtually the same opportunities as the other systems of medicine. There are about 165 homoeopathic colleges, 14 of which offer a PG degree (MD Homoeo). More are being added. And so are the areas of specialisation within the field.

Homoeopaths practice in most parts of the world. There are over 1,50,000 trained homoeopaths in the country. Many of them work in government hospitals and dispensaries. Recruitment for these jobs is conducted by the UPSC and the respective state public service commissions.

Besides the three homoeopathic hospitals, Delhi has about 8 homoeo clinics run by the NDMC, 14 by the MCD and another 45-odd by the NCT of Delhi. Qualified homoeopaths are also employed in CGHS dispensaries.

UP has over 1200 state-and municipality-run clinics.

Opportunities are also available in private nursing homes and polyclinics. Medical colleges, training institutions and medical councils recruit doctors for teaching and research.

Although there are opportunities in government bodies, many homoeopaths opt for private practice.

If you are hesitant to start off on your own, working with an established homoeopath for a while would help you gain the necessary confidence.

For further information, you can contact: the Central Council of Homoeopathy, Jawaharlal Nehru Bharatiya Chikitsa Evum Homoeopathy Anusandhan Bhavan, No. 61-65, Institutional Area, Opp. ‘D’ Block, Janakpuri, New Delhi 110058.


Q Are there any jobs for MBAs in the IT-Enabled services sector? I have just completed my course in insurance management.

Dhananjay Shastri

A After cornering over 60 per cent of the $16 billion offshore IT services market, outsourcing of financial services is projected as the next big boom in the ITES sector.

A number of global investment banks, including Morgan Chase, announced plans to set up offshore equities research units in India. Already a number of companies handling insurance processing and project management are operating in this new BPO space.

MBAs and those with diplomas in insurance and other areas of finance will be required in large numbers in this sector. From credit card customer support and data entry at the elementary level for which commerce graduates fit the bill, these services move up the ladder to include sophisticated securities research, project management, demand forecasting and underwriting, stock research and debt ratings. Here our innate aptitude for number crunching (maths) and analysis gives Indians a definite edge.

Please send in your query, preferably on a postcard, along with your full name, complete address and academic qualifications to: Editor, Query Hotline, The Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh-160020, or at


1. What is the highest score by an Indian in a Test cricket innings?

2. In which year did Rabindranath Tagore get the Nobel Prize in literature?

3. Name NASA's research vehicle that recently created speed record of over Mach 7 during its 11 seconds of powered flight.

4. Name the founder of the Hamas group who was assassinated recently?

5. Who is Miss India Universe-2004?

6. Where are the headquarters of the European Commission?

7. Name the world's three largest employers in size.

8. What percentage of the world's population lived in urban areas in 2003 according to the UN statistics?

9. Expand Simputer.

10. Which retailing giant has topped the Fortune 500 list of America's largest companies for the third year in a row?

11. Who is poised to top a list of the UK's wealthiest Asians with a rare distinction of more than doubling his fortune in the past year to 3.5 billion pounds?

12. What is the capital of Algeria?

13. Name the inventor of 'Jaipur Foot'.

14. How many cricketers have taken 200 wickets and scored more than 3000 runs in Test matches?

15. Which cricket team has the dubious record of conceding more than 11,000 extra runs in one-day international cricket?



School address.................

Winners of quiz 203 : The first prize by draw of lots goes to Mishika Singla, VIII-A, Baba Farid Islamia Public School, Ajit Nagar, Patiala-147001.

Second: Keshav Sharma, X, ECI Chalet Day School, near Shimla Club, The Mall, Shimla.

Third: Dron Awasthi, IX, APJ School, Jalandhar City, Punjab.

Answers to quiz 203: 693; Sachin Tendulkar; Shane Warne & Muttiah Muralitharan; Don Bradman; 47; Javed Miandad; Shaheen-II; London; Mossad; Khokhrapur & Munabao; China; Madrid; Sitar; Press Information Bureau; 2.7.

Cash awards of Rs 400, 300 and 200 are given to the first, second and third prize winners, respectively. These are sent at the school address. — Tarun Sharma