India Regulatory Brief: Opening a Bank Account to Become Easier, Modi May Allow Foreign Universities

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Opening a Bank Account to Become Easier

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on June 11 revised the list of documents that can be used as proof of identity and address to open a bank account. Following an amendment to the Prevention of Money Laundering (Maintenance of Records) Rules, 2005, the RBI notified banks across India that the following documents may now be used as proof of identity or address:

  • Utility bills that are not older than two months;
  • Property or municipal tax receipts;
  • Bank account or post office savings account statements;
  • Pension or family pension payment orders for retired public sector employees;
  • Documents issued by listed companies as well as Indian or foreign governments that acknowledge an official place of residence in India.

The new rules will make it easier for many bank account applicants to meet proof of identity and address requirements. However, banks may require some applicants to provide further documentation if their application is deemed ‘high-risk’. The RBI previously identified conditions for low, medium and high risk applications, which are dependent on the average minimum balance and size of permissible transactions.

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Modi Interested in Allowing Foreign Universities to Setup

Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi began discussions to allow foreign universities to setup campuses in India. At present, there is no legal or regulatory framework for foreign universities to establish independent campuses in India.

In 2013, the Foreign Education Providers Bill failed to pass parliament amidst strong opposition from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). As a result, many foreign universities that want to establish a foothold in India have established research centers or academic partnerships with domestic universities.

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The talks recently held by Modi indicate that his party may have changed its views to accommodate investment from foreign universities. While it is unlikely that Modi’s government will revive the Foreign Education Providers Bill, media reports state that the government is interested in providing better higher education options for young people to study in India, including for foreign students.

National Labor Reforms Forthcoming?

Last week, the media reported that the Ministry of Labour and Employment is drafting a bill to reform labor laws. According to the reports, the ministry will draft the bill in the coming weeks before submitting it to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet. The reports also claim that the government intends to introduce the bill during the Monsoon session of parliament, which occurs between July and September.

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The details of the reported reform plan remain unconfirmed at this time. However, media reports that cite labor ministry officials indicate that the government would like to reform aspects of Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 and Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970. The reforms may also touch on aspects of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, Trade Union Act, 1926 and Contract Labour Act, 1970. Amendments to these laws would likely attempt to relax rules for hiring and firing industrial workers and restrict trade union powers.


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