India releases National Blockchain Strategy focusing on e-governance

India has released a five-year roadmap for adopting blockchain technology in the country. Dubbed the ‘National Blockchain Strategy,’ it focuses on promoting blockchain in various sectors of the economy and aims to foster closer cooperation between the private sector and the government.

The 52-page document published recently by India’s Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) is an updated version of one released earlier this year. It lays out India’s ambition of building a national blockchain platform that it believes will immensely benefit 44 sectors of the economy. 

In the document, the ministry reveals that it’s working on a national blockchain framework, claiming that a “geographically distributed national level shared infrastructure with nodes spread across India” is necessary for the country to reap the benefits of blockchain technology fully. The government intends to use this national infrastructure to provide blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS).

The ministry identified 44 sectors it believes would greatly benefit from blockchain integration. E-governance receives the most attention, with some of the applications spanning its national identity system known as Aadhaar, its eSign public key infrastructure, and its Digilocker citizen cloud hosting solution.

With this focus on e-governance, the government is quite concerned with data security, privacy, and access. And while it goes into the feasibility of a public blockchain, it leans towards having a private ledger, otherwise known as a permissioned blockchain. It even lists the Hyperledger Fabric and the R3 Corda as some of the networks it has borrowed greatly from. 

The blockchain application will extend beyond e-governance in due time, the document outlines, stating: “subsequently, transition should be made to incorporate various use cases beyond e-governance and the framework would be open for anyone to use.”

Some of the sectors it intends to integrate blockchain technology in are supply chain management, document validation, e-notary services, insurance, land records, education, smart cities, and the healthcare industry. 

The blockchain roadmap was broad and didn’t commit to any timeline for execution. However, with the country already moving aggressively towards digitalization, it may have a head start on its peers. Additionally, the roadmap is quite broad, encompassing several sectors. This will allow many stakeholders to be involved and further move the process ahead. Some other national roadmaps, such as China’s Blockchain Service Network-based roadmap, have very narrow areas of focus.

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