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Govt looking to open education, legal services for foreigners

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New Delhi, August 24, 2015: The government is following a "calibrated approach" to open its education and legal services for foreigners, a move aimed at boosting country's services sector. Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia said that work is under progress for opening education and legal services for foreign players.

In a country like India, "this (the liberalisation of the services sector) is to be slow and should have a calibrated approach. It is at a very early stage. A roadmap has been prepared," Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia told PTI.

Explaining about the country's approach to open education sector, the secretary said, in the beginning, opening online courses could be an option.

"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, can they do more of opening online courses and make those accessible to other countries. So, this could be one step," she said.

About opening legal services for foreign players, she said the Commerce Ministry's intention is to work with Bar Council of India (BCI) to move in a direction which is "calibrated and always reciprocal, so the first step should be to look at our domestic sector. How do we make an environment which allows for the growth of our legal services sector," she said.

Govt to open education, legal services foreigners

She said that the roadmap developed by the Department of Commerce with stakeholders is to first permit the "multi- professional firms to come in, and to allow them to increase size of the firms". "So, these could be early stage reforms which we would touch on. Once we do that, in next stage, we can have consultation with the BCI," she added.

Opening up of these two sectors is under discussion of the Committee of Secretaries (CoS). The government is in consultation with the Bar Council of India and Society for Indian Law Firms (SILF) to open up legal services sector to foreigners in a calibrated manner.

The UK and the US have been pushing India to open up the sector to foreign firms. The Advocates Act, which is administered by the BCI, provides for foreign lawyers or law firms to visit India on a reciprocal basis for temporary periods to advise their clients on foreign law and diverse international legal issues.

Inputs from PTI

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