Blockchain’s Potential in India
The blockchain technology and its attributes have been fascinating the world since the time Bitcoin started. Business firms around the world have started exploring blockchain and cryptocurrencies to facilitate smoothness and trust in transactions. At the same time, many countries have started experimenting with blockchain to leverage the benefits of this wonderful technology for improving the lives of its citizens. Estonia, for example, is using the blockchain technology for its “Country as a Service” model by uploading its national health, judicial, legislative data registries on the blockchain. Dubai is treading the same path as it plans to put all its visa applications, bill payments and license renewals on blockchain by the year 2020. Other countries like Canada and Mauritius are closely following the trail.
India, a country with a population of 1.3 billion, can and must leverage this emerging technology to solve several of its perennial problems. Blockchain’s features of trust, immutability, consensus and smart contracts can help India to solve many of its problems currently present in its system. Even the Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has supported rapid adoption of technology and has introduced programmes like “Digital India” and “Make in India” for the same. Despite all the support, the latest Union State Budget of India proved to be a mixed bag for blockchain. While the government has refused to accept cryptocurrency legally, in the budget it has expressed its desire to use blockchain for ushering into the digital economy. The applications of blockchain in India have limitless potential.
Not very long ago farmers marched down the streets of Mumbai as a protest against the ineffective implementation of MSP(Minimum Support Price) which protects the farmers from incurring life-devastating losses during distress sales. Being an agrarian country, the alarming rate of farmer suicides is a major concern for India. This issue can be resolved by using blockchain based smart contracts which ensure that the farmers get paid the MSP and are not at a loss.
After the last elections in India, several complaints of tampered EVMs(Electronic Voting Machines) were received, putting into question the fundamental working of the world’s largest democracy. Blockchain can be used to create tamper-proof balloting. Being an immutable and distributed ledger, any vote cast on blockchain cannot be altered and remains transparent to verifying the tallying process. In all this, the anonymity of the voter is maintained using encryption as well.
India also suffers from a broken recording system. Tracking government records is a tough task be it property records, vehicle records or the Aadhar card data. Over 66 percent of civil cases in India are property-related disputes which generally emerge due to the absence of legal documents as they have been misplaced or shredded into pieces by rats! Uploading any such documents on blockchain will lead to the creation of a permanent copy of all such records thereby making them easy to maintain and track.
Some states like Andhra Pradesh have shown initiative and initiated the use of blockchain for governance. Andhra government has partnered with Covalent Fund to create Velugu Core – a blockchain stack entirely focused on India! The Andhra government has piloted the projects of using blockchain for maintaining land records and for vehicle registrations. They also plan to increase transparency by making all this data digitally available in form of API for developers to develop apps. Other states like Maharashtra and Telangana have also accepted blockchain and announced its usage at the state level.
All this is merely the beginning. It still remains to be seen when the central government would complete execution of a blockchain-based initiative at the national level. Such a move would provide the much-needed thrust to the “Digital India” movement. The journey of blockchain in India has been exciting so far and it will be interesting to see the impact on India as the blockchain technology works its wonders!