NITI Aayog to recommend use of blockchain in land records, PDS, healthcare
Federal think tank NITI Aayog has zeroed in on a number of areas in which the government can use blockchain technology and take the lead over private players, according to officials working on a study to “explore uses of blockchain technology in governance”.
Land records management, supply chain management, including public distribution system and pharmaceutical supplies, electronic health records and healthcare are areas the group of officials has identified on the basis of smaller Proof of Concept (PoC) studies.
Started in December, the study will conclude by March end, a NITI Aayog official said.
“The report will act as a framework for the central ministries and states for the adoption of the technology. It is more of an evaluative process,” Aalekh Sharan, officer on special duty at the think tank, who is part of the group conducting the study, said.
Blockchain is a digital database of transactions that uses encryption and shared network of decentralised computers to independently record and verify the exchanges, preventing data theft, hacking and manipulation.
While anyone can check the transaction history, cryptography and peer-to-peer oversight make manipulation impossible.
Because it does not require manual processing or third-party verification, the technology has the potential to make transactions faster, more reliable and easier to audit.
Made famous by crypto currencies, the technology has a number of applications though.
“In land titling, the land registry and the record of rights are not currently linked. Blockchain can link both and provide a buyer the historical ownership details,” one of the officials said. “Right now, due diligence in a property transaction is very difficult for the buyer, but blockchain can make it possible at the touch of a button.”
Applied to land titling, the decentralised verification system can eliminate the use of intermediaries in a land or property transaction.
Blockchain can also be used to maintain a comprehensive and verifiable database of all educational qualification certificates issued in the country, thus eliminating the problem of fake degrees.
Officials said that with existing services and systems like the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), which brings multiple bank accounts into a single mobile app, and Aadhaar, the unique identity number for citizens which now has over 1.1 billion enrolments, India has “structural advantages like scale”.
NITI Aayog officials said the study on applying the technology is being conducted “keeping privacy concerns in mind”.
While the government has constituted a committee under a retired Supreme Court judge, justice B N Srikrishna, to draft a data protection law, the top court is hearing a clutch of petitions on the concerns regarding Aadhaar, including those pertaining to privacy of individuals.
NITI Aayog is also in talks with Indian and foreign firms working with blockchain technology. A number of states have already roped in such firms and signed them up to work in certain areas.
Andhra Pradesh signed up New York-based ConsenSys to provide technical advice in the area of land titling and the state’s identity platform.
“The first land titling systems in the state will be ready by July and by the end of 2019, people across AP will be using the system,” Kavita Gupta, managing partner at the firm said.