The International Business Times is reporting that American Bar Association President Stephen N. Zack is lobbying India to refrain from shutting U.S. lawyers out of the Indian legal market:
Currently, U.S. lawyers are allowed to travel to India on an “in-and-out basis” to advise their clients on non-Indian aspects of law. That “status quo” should be maintained as the [Bar Council of India] considers the broader issue of whether to allow the practice of law by foreign law firms in India, Zack said….”The ABA believes that allowing such activities is critical not only for the mutual benefit of the legal practitioners in both countries,” [Zack’s] letter said, “but also for fostering the vital and already close relationship between India and the United States and to promote the robust growth of trade and investments between our two countries. Allowing such activities is also essential in making India a preferred venue for international arbitration proceedings.”
This is a huge issue, and only going to get bigger in the coming years. In most countries, including the U.S. and India, the legal profession is highly regulated and heavily skewed toward protectionism (i.e., preserving a pre-globalization status quo). For example, in order to “practice law” in the U.S., one must generally graduate from college, attend law school for 3 years, and pass a state-specific bar exam. Other countries have similarly stringent requirements. Obviously, most people who have been through the trouble (and expense) of this process are vehemently opposed to competition from anyone else–including (and especially) lawyers licensed in other countries.
Which is what makes the ABA president’s statements so interesting. Supposedly, U.S. lawyers currently provide Indian businesses with “consultancy legal services” (to use the article’s phrase) rather than “practice law” (which is the magic phrase to denote what one cannot do without an official license in a given state/country). However, such verbal formulations are notoriously vague, and everyone who argues over their precise meanings are lawyers with a vested interest in either (1) expanding their own market for legal services or (2) keeping new competition out.
To date, new competition has mostly been kept out, especially here in the U.S. It will be interesting to see whether the ABA president’s recent lobbying in India represents a first step moving toward a free trade in legal services between the U.S. and India.
Facebook is being used in New Delhi, India to help police catch traffic violators. From the New York Times:
The traffic police started a Facebook page two months ago, and almost immediately residents became digital informants, posting photos of their fellow drivers violating traffic laws. As of Sunday more than 17,000 people had become fans of the page and posted almost 3,000 photographs and dozens of videos.
The online rap sheet was impressive. There are photos of people on motorcycles without helmets, cars stopped in crosswalks, drivers on cellphones, drivers in the middle of illegal turns and improperly parked vehicles.
Using the pictures, the Delhi Traffic Police have issued 665 tickets, using the license plate numbers shown in the photos to track vehicle owners, said the city’s joint commissioner of traffic, Satyendra Garg.
This is an interesting example of crowd-sourcing as average citizens can make use of technology on hand to help the police. Of course, there could be issues (some of which are discussed in the article) involving privacy and people settings up others. I can imagine the uproar if this was attempted in an American city.
On the other hand, this is an effort that helps make Facebook useful for the common good. As it is now, most of Facebook’s benefits seem to go to individual users who can make or maintain connections with people they know. Could a technology like Facebook be harnessed to better society or is this just a pipe dream?
Interesting AP story regarding a Bollywood film about Hitler titled Dear Friend Hitler. From the piece:
[In India], Hitler is not viewed as the personification of evil, but with an attitude of morally ambiguous fascination. He is seen as a management guru – akin to Machiavelli or Sun Tzu – by business students, and an object of wonder by people craving order amid the chaos of India.
A sociologist, Ashsish Nandy, gives several reasons for this:
For some readers, modern India is a country in chaos and, there is a “certain admiration” for Hitler and his extreme authoritarianism.
There is also India’s colonial inheritance when “every enemy of Britain was a friend of India and at least potentially a good person,” he says, adding that among today’s young readers “there is kind a vague sense that it’s about a person who gave a tough time to the Brits.”
Much of this is likely to look strange to Westerners where Hitler is often invoked as the “epitome of evil.” But the two reasons given by Nandy may have some merit. The British colonial legacy, often negative even more than six decades later, is still a strong cultural factor. Current “chaos” also invokes hope that any leader, in any form, might bring order.