India plans to launch what will be the largest blockchain implementation in governance in the world. The idea was suggested by the country’s main think-tank NITI Aayog and is set to disrupt how the Indian government operates. The blockchain technology has the potential to reduce fraud, speed up enforcement of contracts, increase transparency of transactions, and boost the agriculture economy of the country. The blockchain called IndiaChain is expected to be implemented into agriculture, land records and electricity during its first phase. It will then be linked with Aadhaar (a 12-digit unique identification number that can be obtained by residents of India) to secure individual identity. However, the use of blockchain technology in governance is frankly limitless and it will all depend on how efficient and fast the government of India wants to become.
The blockchain project will be similar to the unified payments interface, a layer of software that makes it easy to transfer money in real time. This is the same system that companies such as Amazon Pay, Google’s Tez, Paytm, PhonePe and Reliance Jio are built upon. By implementing this technology, the government aims to build a public goods infrastructure that will make the distribution of goods and services more organized. Although this project will make India the largest blockchain based governance implementation, there are other countries like Russia and Dubai who have a headstart. The government of Russia is planning to test a blockchain-based system for land registry management while the government of Dubai is planning to implement blockchain-based solutions to bring a paperless digital layer for all city transactions like visa applications, bill payments, and license renewals. If successful, this project will set a precedent for countries to follow and improve on governance. Many countries led by Europe and the US are currently testing blockchain and its possible implication and its application cannot be overstated especially in developing countries.
In the future, the NITI Aayog think-tank believes that blockchain technology can be implemented into land records, supply chain management, identity management, benefit distribution, educational certificates, power distribution and cross-border finance. To facilitate all this, the blockchain will allow government bodies and other related organizations to build side chains ( a separate blockchain derived and linked to the main blockchain but which can perform a separate function on its own) which can be linked back to IndiaChain.
In as much as the plan sounds good, the key to its success will depend on how well the technology is implemented and how the people of India adapt to it. Standardized protocols built into the system are what will help monitor and manage the blockchain, if well implemented, the technology could be revolutionary but in the wrong hands could just be another fraudulent way of stealing or just as inefficient as ‘traditional’ governance. The people will also have to play a part in ensuring the success of the blockchain. Indians will themselves have to be the early adopters of the blockchain technology. There has also been a question of privacy as blockchains are usually open ledgers accessible to everyone. The government is still working on this.
For now, this is but a concept and a lot of test and research has to go into it before actualization as one of the executives noted;
Right now it’s a concept, but once there is a use case, we can call it as the first product of IndiaChain. These are all uncharted territory,
Blockchain technology brings transparency and accountability, something that lacks in many developing countries and upon success, India will have set out a new and revolutionary means of governance.
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