Indian Policy Think Tank Develops Blockchain Proof-of-Concept

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India Policy Think Tank Prepares Blockchain Proof-of-Concept
Image credit: Sun setting at Connaught Place in Delhi, by Ville Miettinen, via Flickr

NITI Aayog, a policy think tank of the government of India, is exploring the use of blockchain. The agency is developing a proof-of-concept to leverage technology in key sectors such as education, health and agriculture, a senior government official told the Economic Times.

“It is a safe system for document verification and hence can be adopted in sectors like education, health and agriculture,” the person told the news outlet. NITI Aayog had recently organized a blockchain hackathon following which it is exploring its widespread usage across sectors, the official said.

The inaugural international blockchain hackathon took place from November 10th to 13th, 2017 at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi. The event was organized in collaboration with Proffer, a blockchain startup founded by MIT and Harvard graduates.

AgroChain, a blockchain-based marketplace that helps farmers and consumers through cooperative farming, was awarded the first prize at the competition.

The marketplace allows farmers to list their potential crops and the expected yield on their farms on the distributed public ledger. Consumers can view the details and check for the farmer’s credibility based on the previous cultivation and supply. This creates a transparent and tamper-proof digital market platform for farm products. A rating mechanism will be added to build the credibility of farmers and consumers based on the previous experiences in the agro market.

AgroChain was developed by a team of research students from the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management-Kerala (IIITM-K).

Other winners included SureFly, a last-minute crowdfunded insurance for flight delays, Open Complaint Network, a decentralized system for lodging complaints, both civil and criminal, Betoken, a decentralized hedge fund for social impact investing, and chAIn, a decentralized artificial intelligence with homomorphic encryption to guarantee data privacy.

Around 1,900 students and professionals from 28 countries signed up to participate in the event in person and on remote mode. Microsoft, IBM, Accel, Coinbase, and Amazon AWS sponsored US$17,000 in prizes for the top five blockchain-based applications addressing problems in government and enterprise infrastructure, finance, energy markets, supply chain, information exchange, and decentralized “Aadhaar” identities (the national 12-digit unique identification number issued by the government), among others.

NITI Aayog has been working on developing a country-wide blockchain network called IndiaChain. The project aims to reduce corruption and frauds, speed up enforcement of contracts, increase transparency of transactions and boost the agriculture economy of the country.

The agency plans to link IndiaChain to India Stack, a set of APIs that allows governments, businesses, startups and developers to utilize a unique digital Infrastructure.

NITI Aayog is now working on “a strategy paper for blockchain in India which will outline use cases as well as map out the schemes of the government of India that stand to benefit from the utilization of the technology,” an official at the agency said, as quoted by the Indian Express. “NITI is exploring ways in which blockchain can transform governance for India.”