Government-backed researchers in Canada are planning to unite with India’s technology industry association NASSCOM to research blockchain. Together, the two hope to create an global epicentre for studying the implications and applications of the innovative tech leading to increased “high-end technology capabilities.”
Blockchain: Beyond Cryptocurrency
The teaming up of Canada’s Blockchain Research Institute (BRI) and NASSCOM (National Association of Software and Services Companies) aims to explore the use of blockchain technology in both government and academia. There are several areas in which India perceive blockchain to be disruptive to current industries, both financial and otherwise. These include land registry, healthcare, and banking.
The announcement of the union between BRI and NASSCOM, combined with the recent news that India are forming a “Future Skills” initiative aimed at educating their youth in cutting edge technology, clearly evidence a nation positioning itself as a hub for innovation in the blockchain industry. The educational platform was announced just days ago by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the World Congress on Information Technology 2018.
Meanwhile, the BRI’s stated goal is to “build blockchain-based economies around the world”. With their assistance, plus an increasingly blockchain-literate young workforce, India could well rise to the top in the field of research and application of the exciting and potentially disruptive technology. Narendra Modi’s government have even earmarked around US$500 million for developing the digital economy. This represents a doubling of public spending on the sector.
According to CNN, Don Tapscott, the founder and executive chairman of the Canadian institute, stated:
“We see our coalition with NASSCOM as a delightful opportunity to nurture the blockchain community in India… We strongly believe that India has the potential to lead the blockchain revolution.”
Whilst the Indian government are evidently receptive to the innovative potential of the blockchain, they seem somewhat more hesitant when it comes to the first real application of the technology – crytocurrency. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recently stated in his 2018/19 Budget Speech:
“The government does not consider crypto-currencies legal tender or coin and will take all measures to eliminate the use of these cryptoassets in financing illegitimate activities or as part of the payment system.”
This statement has been interpreted in two ways. Firstly, there are those who believe it represents out and out hostility towards digital currency. This wouldn’t be surprising from a nation who have taken extremely misguided measures such as demonetisation policies in the past. However, there are also those who stress the use of the word “illegitimate” in Jaitely’s statement. This could be interpreted as meaning greater efforts to curtail money laundering offences made possible by cryptocurrency whilst not ensuring any form of blanket ban for its legitimate use.