The Chocolate Cake War…with a Digital Dividend for the Subcontinent
If you don’t want your children to eat too much chocolate cake (and we know how much they love chocolate cake), it’s best they don’t catch you eating too much yourself: that would undermine the overall message and, quite possibly, your waistline too…It is, of course, a metaphor for happiness, but over recent years Prime Minister Modi’s Government has been engaged in something of a chocolate cake war of its own, at least when it comes to Blockchain and Emerging Technologies.
For two straight years, New Delhi Policymakers (particularly those at the Reserve Bank) were trying their damndest to ban dealings in cryptocurrencies (Blockchain’s poster boys) until the Supreme Court struck down their plans in 2020 (www.main.sci.gov.in). At that point, you’d have thought it would be an end of the matter, but nothing of the kind. Instead, a curious, divided vision emerged on the Subcontinent: on the one hand, the so-called “Sandbox” initiative sought to chart a regulated future for Blockchain; and, on the other, increasingly strident calls were made in New Delhi for another outright ban.
So, what did the Blockchain hungry, tech-savvy Indian public make of this divided vision?
Well, for a start, they were all too aware that ever since 2018 (and despite overt opposition), the Government in India has been systematically embedding Blockchain technologies into the very heart of the Subcontinent’s social and economic fibre: Land Registration systems are increasingly dependent on Blockchain, as are vehicle registrations, agricultural insurance programmes, and the proper management of centralised health records. In short, the Government has been caught eating its own chocolate cake…and its admonitions to an increasingly youthful population of technology-hungry consumers that should go without having, naturally enough, been falling on deaf ears…just like they would if your kids catch you in a cupboard with a half-eaten black forest gateau.
As a result, India’s cryptocurrency markets grew by an astonishing 641% last year (www.chainalysis.com), fuelled by a healthy sense of public scepticism, as well as the Supreme Court’s liberating decision in 2020 (see above): domestic Blockchain based transfers on the Subcontinent are running at $10 Million a year, and India is second only to Vietnam in the growth of crypto adoption by retail investors (usually a reliable indicator that the relevant market is about to enter a period of exponential growth). In short, emerging technologies and Blockchain are becoming mature markets (whatever the Government says or does), and that same Government would do well to come clean about its future intentions: if only to avoid an unpleasant whiff of hypocrisy in its marbled halls.
Supply Side Trends
Turning to the supply side and India’s burgeoning private sector, 56% of the Subcontinent’s businesses have now either adopted Blockchain technologies as part of their delivery platform, or expect to do so within the short to near term. And that doesn’t just mean a peripheral adjustment: Blockchain will soon be sitting at the core of more than half of India’s commercial enterprises. The National Informatics Centre (www.nic.in), ironically an agency of the Indian Government, is also working to create a coordinated, interoperable blockchain ecosystem that stretches across all four corners of the Subcontinent: enabling Central and State Governments to run highly focused test projects before rolling them out for the benefit of the public generally.
According to a Joint Report published by Cross Tower and the Strategic Partnership Forum, initiatives of that kind have the potential to propel India’s Digital Asset Economy from $5 Billion last year to $262 Billion by 2032: contributing an estimated $1.1 Trillion to the Subcontinent’s GDP.
High time then to stop eating the digital chocolate cake …and let us have some of our own.
India has the potential to become a worldwide leader in Blockchain-based innovation. So it’s odd to find such a divided vision of its future within the Central Government and the Reserve Bank.
Until that is, you realise the Government is having its cake and eating it….
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