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Look at what the Government’s doing, not what it says

India’s Electronics and IT Minister, Sanjay Dhotre, has confirmed his Government is bracing itself for another step towards a fully regulated Blockchain economy with publication of its latest Policy Paper: The National Level Blockchain Framework, and at its heart is a high-level route map for distributed ledger technologies focused on a single infrastructure base for multiple user platforms. In other words, Blockchain’s going to be big in India and as Mr. Dhotre put it in his written Parliamentary answer to Lok Sabha it will have “important potential applications in different areas such as Banking and Finance”…As Basil Fawltey would have put it, Sanjay Dhotre is a specialist in stating the Bleedin’ Obvious.

Blockchain will indeed have important future applications, and not just in Banking and Finance either.

Mr. Dhotre’s written reply also provides further confirmation that Prime Minister Modi’s Government is set in its intention to re-fashion the subcontinent as a Blockchain Centre of Excellence, where innovative distributed ledger platforms will be created and developed as part of the so-called Sandbox Regulatory changes that have been in place since the middle of last year and are now starting to generate some positive results.

And let’s not forget either, all this is happening despite the Government maintaining an industry-wide ban on cryptocurrency support finance and standing full square behind the Reserve Bank as it continues a hopeless defence of its 2018 decision to implement the Government’s policy: a decision that now makes Boris Johnson sound like Themistocles and would have crashed and burned months ago had it not been for the Supreme Court’s latitude in giving the Reserve Bank an opportunity to change its mind. No sign of that happening yet though (for the fourth time of asking)…

But despite all this, the Modi Government has still managed to persuade the influential Centre for Development of Advanced Computing and the Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology to support its latest initiative, neither of them being particularly well known for Blockchain or Cryptocurrency aversion. Indeed, the Government itself is involved in key collateral projects including prospective authentication of academic certificates (with a proof-of-existence framework), vehicle life cycle oversight and hotel registry management. Not so much a wolf in sheep’s clothing as a fully-fledged sheep.

In November last year, Tech Mahindra announced that it was teaming up with the Netherlands-based Quantoz to provide secure digital payments and Tata Consultancy Services have launched a multi-brand consumer loyalty platform on R3’s enterprise Blockchain Corda. So where the Government is heading others will obviously follow if not positively take the lead. Even its own Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has started to look at potential military applications for Blockchain.

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Executive Overview

I’ve got no doubt that Blockchain has a very real potential to change the way we all do business in the future and more and more it looks like Cryptocurrencies too will become part of its single, unified regulatory structure.

Despite deliberately dampening comments last year from various Ministers and Functionaries, as well as the Reserve Bank’s increasingly hopeless defence of the claims against it in the Supreme Court, none of the Government’s recent actions and statements would suggest anything other than a long term, fully regulated Blockchain environment on the subcontinent. 

Suchit Punnose

Suchit Punnose / About Author

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