News & Analysis

Why India Needs to Unblock Its Vision on Blockchain

The perception that blockchain technology is to do with cryptocurrency alone needs to be removed and in double quick time

A few days ago, there was a largely nondescript news report about China’s state-backed blockchain company planning its first major global expansion. It said Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN), billed as the one-stop shop for deploying blockchain applications in the cloud, is launching a network overseas in August. 

The purpose is to link different blockchains together as a solution to help enterprises connect with each other and digitally enter into contracts, delivery and everything in between. The moot point is that China, in spite of disapproving cryptocurrency (one of blockchain tech’s early uses), is supporting the technology via backing by none other than President Xi Jingping. 

Now, cut to India and here is what a government document says about blockchain services: “The National Strategy to evolve a trusted digital platform for providing e-Governance services using Blockchain lays out overall vision and the development and implementation strategies for a National Blockchain Platform covering the technology stack, legal and regulatory framework, standards development, collaboration, human resource development and potential use cases.It is hoped that this strategy document would provide the necessary guidance and support for realizing the vision and creating a nationwide ecosystem for creating the National Blockchain Platform and development of relevant applications using this platform in various domains.” 

The document, released in December of 2021, further says the Ministry of Electronics and IT will “work with various Government organizations and other stakeholders in implementing this strategy and realizing the various advantages of the Blockchain technology in terms of enhanced security, trust and its ability to ensure tamper-evident transactions.”

The Narendra Modi administration has cut the red tape not once but twice – first with the digital payments interface (UPI) and later with the open network for digital commerce (ONDC). We wonder why the powers that be are so reticent when it comes to signing off on blockchain. Especially since by 2030, it is expected that a third of all global consumers will be using it as a primary technology engine for contractual obligations. 

Of late, the government has attempted to differentiate its stance on cryptocurrency from that of blockchain. It is not just India that sees crypto as a threat to currency sovereignty – China is also in the same boat. However, there seems to be a growing view that by aggressively going after blockchain technology, India can even create its own centralized cryptocurrency. 

But, that’s not the biggest challenge. The fact is blockchain usage in the banking industry to make financial transactions more transparent in a virtual manner without the use of intermediaries. But, somehow those in power appear to be missing the umpteen other uses that the technology presents in other governance systems.

Reports of how the Central Board of Secondary Education plans to use blockchain to record the student certificates came some months ago. Now colleges and universities are also talking about offering Web3-based courses with digitally approved certificates. Uses of blockchain tech in healthcare, real estate, automobiles and electronic governance is well known too. 

Other uses include validating sales via supply chain certifications, providing citizen privileges, proving ownership of digital assets via NFTs, protecting digital identity and copyrights. Given that these use cases are only going to burgeon in the times ahead, a big challenge would be to create adequate expertise amongst the workforce. 

Which is why the China example cited earlier in this piece could become a cause for worry. If India doesn’t wake up to the value of blockchain technology and create academic inputs required to prepare an agile workforce of the future, the prospects of missing out on a lion’s share of the global blockchain pie could become very real. 

When Web1 and Web2 hit the global markets, Indian software resources fetched many a million dollars. If we aren’t ready to meet the Web3 requirements, China might just end up edging us out of this race. 


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