Blockchain technology is unique for its immutability and transparency. It is a public register in which transactions between two users belonging to the same network are stored in a secure, verifiable and permanent way. Data stored on this public distributed ledger is permanent and can’t be altered or deleted.
Originally devised for the digital currency Bitcoin, the tech community and governments the world over are now finding other potential uses for the technology.
In India, government think-tank Niti Aayog is applying blockchain to maintain land and health records and ensure proper disbursement of fertiliser subsidies, among others. Niti Aayog is also working with Apollo Hospitals and Oracle to apply distributed ledger tech in pharmaceutical supply chain management to detect spurious drugs.
Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said that the government has to play a leading role in enabling the application of this technology.
Blockchain evangelist Jehan Chu said that India is starting on a clean slate. It has the ability to create government-backed, endorsed, as well as socially valuable infrastructure in blockchain technology.
“…when you are introducing blockchain to the wider public, you can do it in a way which is more consistent with the actual potential of this technology and not with just what it started from,” said Chu.
However, there is a skill deficit in blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, in India. “The country is facing a challenge in skilled resources in emerging verticals such as blockchain,” former Nasscom chairman and Tech Mahindra CEO CP Gurnani said. He added, “Our present curriculum doesn’t allow for practising much (blockchain technology).”
But that’s likely because this distributed ledger technology is still in a nascent stage in India. However, the government and companies in the country have realised the potential of the technology and are exploring various applications.
Last week, India’s first International Blockchain Congress was held in Hyderabad. The event, organised by US-based Nucleus Vision in partnership with the governments of Telangana and Goa, saw the participation of over 3,000 people. During the event, the Telangana government launched a Blockchain District in Hyderabad.
Various other announcements were made during the event, and in overall blockchain ecosystems, which we bring to you in this edition of Blockchain This Week.
Important Developments In Indian Blockchain Ecosystem This Week
Telangana Govt Launches Blockchain District In Partnership With Tech Mahindra
The Telangana government has launched a Blockchain District in Hyderabad, Telangana. Tech Mahindra is a founding member of the initiative. The company will provide platform and technology assistance to all the incubators.
Telangana IT Minister KT Rama Rao said, “The Telangana government is proud to pioneer the first of its kind Blockchain District in India. With support from Tech Mahindra, we envision to set a global benchmark in providing cutting-edge technology solutions and platforms across industries.”
The Blockchain District, essentially a centre of excellence, will have an incubator for technology and process development, along with innovative infrastructure and facilities to foster the growth of Indian blockchain startups and companies.
Responding to an Inc42 query, Tech Mahindra CEO and MD CP Gurnani stated that the Telangana government would provide the infrastructure, while Tech Mahindra will play the ecosystem enabler’s role, as an economic, technology, and skill development partner.
This latest initiative in Hyderabad is similar to the concept of Vizag Fintech Valley, which was announced by Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandra Babu Naidu in August 2017.
Rao has also announced a mega blockchain project Eleven01 to be developed at the district. Along with the Telangana government, Eleven01 Foundation, Tech Mahindra, and US-based startup Nucleus Vision will be the founding partners of the Blockchain District.
ICMR, Harvard University Floats Blockchain Proposal For Modicare
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), in association with Harvard University, has proposed a blockchain-based smart health information exchange system for effectively implementing the National Health Protection Mission (NHPM), popularly known as Modicare.
The research paper — ‘Reimagining Health Data Exchange: An Application Programming Interface’ — on which the proposal is based, has suggested using a distributed ledger technology-based information network in which personal health records are maintained in a system where free, real-time flow of data is predicated on consent and authorised access.
The architecture would function as an “open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way,” the author of the paper, Satchit Balsari from Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights said.
The researchers argued that collating all data in a national repository for 1.3 Bn Indians will be prohibitively expensive and redundant. It would also offer a single point of failure with security breaches resulting in colossal data compromise.
Govt Is Applying Blockchain In Land Registry, Health Records: Niti Aayog
Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said the government is working on applying blockchain technology in areas such as land registry, health records, and fertiliser subsidy distribution, among others. He was addressing a gathering through video-conferencing at the inaugural session of International Blockchain Congress 2018.
According to Kant, Niti Aayog, in collaboration with Apollo Hospitals and Oracle, is also putting pharmaceutical supply chain on distributed ledger technology for complete traceability of drugs from manufacturer to consumer with an aim to reduce the menace of spurious medicines.
“The government has to play a leading role in allowing the application of blockchain technology. As the government, we need to make it easier to apply the technology in pressing areas such as disbursement, land records, health records,” Kant said.
Telangana Govt To Use Blockchain To Make Land Records Tamper-Proof
The Telangana government plans to make land records tamper-proof by moving them to a distributed ledger technology platform in a phased manner.
Dharni Project special officer Rajat Kumar Saini said, “Only validated transactions would be moved. Slowly, as we get comfortable and land records become clearer and cleaner, we would be moving the entire land records to the blockchain.”
Saini was speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Ushering Mass Blockchain Adoption – The India Way’ at the International Blockchain Congress recently held in Telangana.
Present at the event, Rama Devi Lanka, officer on special duty, department of information technology, said “We are putting processes related to the vehicle from manufacturing and its dealers to the time it turns to scrap. The entire health history of the vehicle will be made available.”
Use Of Blockchain In Curbing Pesky Calls Will Incur $29 Mn- $58 Mn Cost: COAI
The Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) has raised concerns over TRAI’s new rules on curbing pesky calls and messages, saying that the tailoring of systems and use of blockchain technology will involve a cost of $29 Mn- $58 Mn (INR 200-400 Cr) and 18 months for the roll out.
COAI director general Rajan S Mathews, said, “As this system has not been implemented elsewhere in the world, it is difficult to quantify the exact investment or the time involved. But roughly, it will be in excess of INR 200-400 Cr investments for tailoring of the system.”
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) last month came out with commercial communication rules under which an individual can revoke permission that he/she has granted to any commercial entity for a service.
The rules lay down obligations for operators including evolving a Code of Practices, maintaining records, and registering customers preferences, besides mandating the adoption of the distributed ledger technology.
Blockchain Developments Around The World
Turkey Sets Up Its First University-level Blockchain Centre
Turkey has launched the country’s first university-level blockchain centre ‘The Istanbul Blockchain and Innovation Center’ at the Bahçeşehir University (BAU), which will work to fill the technology expertise gap and widespread the deployment of the technology.
BAU director Bora Erdamar said, “It will be the most important center of research and development and innovation in Turkey in which scientific studies and publications are made in blockchain technologies.”
Erdamar underlined the importance of cooperation among the new centre and other educational establishments, businesses, and government institutions in order to conduct proper research into the technology and examine its possible use cases.
Sony Applies for Blockchain-Enabled Hardware Patents
Japanese tech conglomerate Sony has submitted patent applications for two hardware products that use blockchain applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
According to a report, Sony applied for patents entitled ‘Electronic Node and Method for Maintaining a Distributed Ledger’ and ‘Device and System’. While the former patent request provides an electronic device for maintaining a distributed ledger to perform a mining process, the second application refers to a device for accessing and a system for maintaining a distributed ledger.
The report noted that the two applications are related in usage, with the device used to access the distributed ledger and the system helping maintain a distributed ledger technology.
The report said that with this technology, users can store the necessary identification information that allows them to watch the products they purchase.
Sagewise Raises $1.25 Mn Seed Fund
Los Angeles-based startup Sagewise has raised $1.25 Mn seed funding to build a smart contract safety net where smart contracts do not fulfill the original transactional intent. The funding round was led by Wavemaker Genesis with strategic investments from Miko Matsumura, Youbi Capital, Ari Paul, Jordan Clifford, James Sowers, and Terrence Yang.
Sagewise was founded by fintech lawyer Amy Wan and co-founder Dan Rice in 2017. The startup has developed a smart contract named SDK that resolves disputes using blockchain and cryptocurrency.
Sagewise is one of a few emerging legaltech platforms looking to better manage the diverse and growing realm of smart contracts to bring greater assurance and peace of mind to a decentralised universe.