Thursday, September 07, 2006

Trial balloon on foreign universities

In politics -- as in much else in life, I suppose -- it's important to be able to say, "I really didn't mean it that way", without losing face. One of the tested-and-proven methods is to let an officer under a minister's command talk to a bunch of reporters about the possibility of an important policy initiative. And the minister just has to watch how the message is received by the public, other politicians and, more importantly, the allies and Cabinet colleagues! This appears to me to be one of those trial balloons:

In a move that’s sure to raise alarms at the HRD ministry, the Union commerce ministry is planning to spark a fresh debate on whether education could be treated as an industry, taking into account the commercial nature of the service.

The idea, according to GK Pillai, special secretary, department of commerce, is to evolve enough consensus on opening higher education to foreign investment, even 100% FDI. Speaking on the sidelines of a CII seminar on Wednesday, Mr Pillai said that the commerce department will soon circulate a discussion paper on liberalising higher education and changing domestic regulations to attract investment in the sector.