In a bid to improve the service sector in country, Government of India is planning to open its gates to foreigners in the legal and education sector, albeit in a calibrated manner. The move by the government is seen as a bold and progressive step forward in these two sectors.
Speaking to the media, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia explained the need of this initiative and the road ahead for the plan. “this (the liberalization of the services sector) is to be slow and should have a calibrated approach …It is at a very early stage. A road map has been prepared”, she was quoted saying. She went on to explain the approach which the government may take in the initial stages.
According to her, online courses can be a good beginning. “Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) is doing something. Some professional bodies are also offering online courses. So, when we have such strong technical institutions with high reputation, they can do more of opening online courses and make those accessible to other countries. So, this could be one step,” she said.
This move to open up legal sector is supposed to be a reciprocal process. Commerce ministry in partnership with the Bar Council Of India (BCI) is slated to head the entire project. But the first priority for the project is to permit “multi-professional firms to come in and to allow them to increase size of the firms”. The Ministry is also in touch with the Society for Indian Law Firms (SILF), which a representative of Indian corporate law firms, in this regard.
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According to an industry expert, the opening of sectors such as the legal sector to foreign players where they will have the power of advisory consultation and drafting of agreements is a very sensitive issue which is still in it’s formative stage and if passed, will take a long time to be implemented. Incidentally both the United States and the United Kingdom have been insistent on this subject for a long time. It is to be noted that the Advocates Law allows foreign private lawyers or law firms to visit India on a reciprocal manner and they can advise their clients on international laws.
The opening of these two sectors is still under discussion in the Committee of Secretaries. Veteran politician and imminent jurist Dr. Avishek Manu Sanghvi is of the opinion that it is high time that the legal sector is opened up to foreign players for the interest of the country. However, given the sensitivity of the issue, it is wise that the plan is put under thorough scrutiny.
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