The volatility in values of crypto currencies like Bitcoin has aroused interest in the currencies and the underlying technology of blockchain. The Finance Minister, in his annual budget speech, said that the government will explore use of block chain technology proactively for ushering in digital economy”.
Blockchain is a decentralised, distributed, digital ledger collectively maintained by a network of computers, called nodes. It is like a large record book shared among many people. What makes the blockchain secure is that no data can be modified by one person without everyone else who maintains the records agreeing to the change. Also, the record book is not stored in one place but instead is distributed among the bookkeepers ensuring that there is no single point using which records can be tampered with. This makes blockchain virtually unhackable and secure.
In its report on “The Three Years of NITI Aayog: Nayi Niti, Nayi Disha, Naya Bharat” the organisation reported on its efforts for using blockchain technology for social good. The report mentioned the following:-
- NITI Aayog is exploring ways in which blockchain can transform governance for India.
- An international hackathon was conducted at IIT Delhi from November 10 to 12, 2017 on blockchain in which working prototypes were solicited from premier international and national institutes on social applications of blockchain.
- NITI Aayog is working on a strategy paper for blockchain in India which will outline use cases as well as map out the schemes of Government of India that stand to benefit from the utilisation of the technology.
- Partner organisations from private sector as well as state/UT Governments are being identified to implement proof-of-concepts utilising blockchain technology in different sectors.
- NITI Aayog is also working on a platform called ‘IndiaChain’, which will be a shared, India-specific blockchain infrastructure, utilising the power of the Jan-Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar, and Mobile trinity and enable blockchain developers to build social applications.
The India Chain will be the country’s largest blockchain network. It will be linked to another existing platform called IndiaStack. IndiaStack is a set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that allow government organisations, businesses, startups and developers to develop applications for presence-less (by using Aadhar), paper-less (Aadhar eKYC, E-sign and digital locker), cash-less (single interface to bank accounts and wallets such as UPI) and consent (to enable people to securely provide consent for the data flow between data providers) service delivery.
The plan of IndiaChain is to deploy some proof-of-concept projects in agriculture, land records and education certificates. Simultaneously, drafting of regulations for the use of blockchain technology will be progressed. Eventually, it will be linked with Aadhaar to secure individual identity.
The first project being taken up is the digital certification of education degrees. This will be implemented for IIT (Bombay) and Delhi University for the batches graduating in 2019. Fake education certificates are a problem rampant in India and recruiters find it difficult to verify the education claims of the candidates. In the case of digital certificates issued on a blockchain, verification can be done via an app and authentication/verification can be instantaneous once the certificate holder approves of the access. The next project would be on land titles. However, verification of land titles can be undertaken only after the state governments digitise their land records.