The Indian government is gearing up to launch its first official blockchain project with digital certificates of academic degrees. As per reports, the government is aiming to issue tamper-proof degree certificates, starting with students graduating next year.
The initiative, according to sources close to the development, is based on a blockchain solution called IndiaChain that government-run think tank NITI Aayog is currently working on.
Once developed, the technology will be trialed with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay as well as various colleges under the Delhi University, with the Aayog overseeing the implementation.
Commenting on the development, a source said on condition of anonymity, “The pilot trials will begin soon and once that is successfully completed, the full-scale implementation will start. The plan is to start issuing digital certificates on the blockchain (IndiaChain) from the 2019 batch onwards.”
According to a report by FactorDaily, a similar move was made by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) last October when it launched a pilot programme, wherein 111 MIT graduates were given digital certificates of their diplomas.
The blockchain-based technology, developed jointly by MIT and Learning Machine, can create secure digital certificates that need to be verified externally with the help of an app.
According to some sources, the Indian government is also planning to integrate blockchain in the case of land titles. A person in the know stated, “Even though land titles on the blockchain was another implementation being talked about, the process will take much longer as a lot of the states are yet to digitise their land records. Education has already been tested and is comparatively less complex to implement.”
Blockchain: The Newest Game Changer In Governance
Blockchain is basically a Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) that allows all members to record transactions in a decentralised data log maintained on a network of computers, rather than a physical ledger or a single database. Transactions are approved by consensus, and everything is secured through cryptography.
While blockchain technology was originally used to create cryptocurrencies such Bitcoin, its use in other fields such as payment services, agriculture, financial exchanges, infrastructure and education is now being promoted actively by the government.
Although the government announced its intentions to curtail the use of cryptocurrencies for
financing illegitimate activities in the Union Budget 2018, it has not failed to notice the untapped potential of blockchain and its application in administration.
During this year’s Budget session, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the integration of blockchain in governance could result in quicker operational response as well as decision making.
To facilitate the adoption of blockchain in governance, NITI Aayog had conducted an international hackathon at IIT Delhi in November last year on blockchain, in which working prototypes were solicited from premier international and national institutes on social applications of blockchain.
The objective of the event was to explore how blockchain architectures can enable a new digital infrastructure for India, improving efficiency, transparency, privacy, and cost across all sectors.
In this regard, partner organisations from the private sector as well as state/UT governments are being identified to implement proof-of-concepts utilising the technology in different sectors.
As per reports, several state governments, including Karnataka, Gujarat, and Maharashtra, have started evaluating the technology for purposes of e-governance. Last month, backed by the state government, a ‘Blockchain Hackathon for Governance’ was held at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium to create demonstrable prototypes utilising blockchain in government applications.
For blockchain-based banking solutions, SBI had earlier formed a banking community called BankChain to explore and implement blockchain platform. BankChain is a community of 27 banks from India and the Middle East. ICICI Bank, Kotak Bank, DCB Bank and Axis Bank are also part of this community.
BankChain aims to reduce fraud and maximise efficiency, security and transparency in the banking system. The community has also collaborated with Pune-based Primechain Technologies.
Recently, in the first week of January, more than a dozen insurers including HDFC Life, India First Life and Canara HSBC OBC joined hands to start another blockchain project to help rein in costs for companies running medical tests and evaluations.
Last month, Delhi police arrested three men involved in a pan-India fake degree racket. Given that the number of students graduating from Indian universities and colleges is increasing rapidly, shifting to digital certificates could prove essential to curbing the burgeoning problem of fake certificates.