This time, I’m going to talk about a basic (assumed) right that most citizens living in any democratic society pride themselves on- the right to choose. Within this right to choose, there are various interpretations (and often detailing) – for example, the right to practicing one’s religion, the right to choose a means of an honest livelihood etc.
Today, I’m writing about what seems to be the hypocritical nature of different sections within the Indian society on how we choose to distribute this right, not just to our people, but also people from other countries and societies. The incident that I’m basing this post on is a very minor one, so much so that most of you may not have even read about it in the papers.
The Bar Council of India (BCI) protested against a proposed legislation that could affect its autonomy and allow entry of foreign law institutes and universities in India. In real terms, the fear is that foreign law colleges, foreign solicitor firms and lawyers from other countries would be allowed to work in India if these legislations are passed in the parliament.
I wish to raise just a few basic points regarding this strike. To be clear, I am neutral to the proposed move since it does not directly affect me or the means to my livelihood in any way. My basic premise of objection to this strike is just one i.e. the hypocrisy associated with it. It is a well- known fact that a few hundred thousand or more lawyers from India (and other professionals such as doctors, CAs etc.) work abroad in other countries, within their system, doing extremely well for themselves. The point, therefore, is this: why do our people, especially in the professional arena have issues all the time if their counterparts from different countries are allowed to practice here? Is it the fact that it eats up into their share of work? If it is, in that case, aren’t Indian professionals eating up into the share of their foreign counterparts’ work in those countries? Clearly, the excuse of ‘they don’t have enough professionals in their own country’ is invalid considering that time and again, it has been seen that, considering equally well qualified people compete, the major reason for outsiders getting employment in these countries is due to their willingness to work at a much lower price than the market raise (therefore angering the locals of those countries for killing the market for them).
The other question I ask is this- even if we do considering the lawyers’ agitation as valid and agreeable, how does one then defend letting much weaker sections of the society, for example people who set up tiny little departmental stores in their villages, compete with foreign corporates worth billions of dollars? Why is FDI in the retail sector and the like considered ‘development’ when it really affects the weakest of the weakest? And why is competition in the comparatively well-off professional circuit considered a threat and not an opportunity to raise or improve the quality of standards in that industry? Is it again one of those instances when the educated and the literate of the country, including its government and state machinery turn a blind eye to the needs of the actual affected common man while giving in to the threats of more powerful lobbies?