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MEITY recommends using blockchain for public projects, creation of National Blockchain Framework

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has recommended the government create a National Level Blockchain Framework (NLBF) to encourage the adoption of blockchain technology across a variety of public use-cases. The ministry’s draft National Strategy on Blockchain proposes that various public projects can be brought on to a blockchain platform for digital identities, land records and official documents and healthcare, among other areas.

The report recommends that the government create a legal and regulatory framework for the adoption of blockchain technology in various public and private areas, while at the same time build capacities on blockchain research and innovation to compete with other nations. At present, there are various efforts by government bodies and the private sector to use blockchain technology. But in order to effectively scale the technology, there is a need for scaling deployments, explore various domains, emerge shared infrastructure and cross domain applications, it said.

“As a country, a National Level Blockchain Framework can aid in scaling deployments for developed applications, emerge shared infrastructure and also enable cross domain application development. So there is a need to build infrastructure that is spread across multiple zones across the country. Since no
single platform is capable to meet the requirements of different application domains of the country, the proposed infrastructure can help in hosting multiple Blockchain platforms.” National Strategy on Blockchain

The last date for submitting feedback to the draft of the National Strategy on Blockchain is February 16.

National Level Blockchain Framework

The aim of the NLBF, the report says, is to build an indigenous blockchain platform which will be able to host multiple blockchain platforms. This means that various domain specific blockchains, for property, health, education and others, can sit on top of the NLBF. This enables quick scaling, using common standards for security, privacy and smart contracts. The NLBF will be created through collaboration between state governments, National E-Governance Division, National Informatics Centre, MEITY, IDBRT, industry, startups and other bodies.

Under the NLBF, Application Programme Interfaces (APIs) will be created so that various blockchain adopters can get easy access to the underlying blockchain platform that will be developed. It said that an indigenous technology stack with Open APIs should be developed so that “use cases addressing the nation’s requirements” can be built. Further, through these APIs various existing government projects from eSign, e-Pramaan, eAadhaar, to Digilocker can be moved onto a blockchain easily and efficiently going into the future.

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There will be three types of participants under the NLBF. The first is users of the technology, the second is technology providers and operators and the third type is technology stack builders who will create the intellectual property of the blockchain. “Multi-institutional model need to be created for architecting the NLBF and organizations have to be identified along with their roles & responsibilities. Involvement of innovative start-ups and industry would bring in the agility,” the report said.

Roadmap for adopting blockchain technology

Blockchain is still an emerging technology and other than a few pilot projects both in the private sector or by government, its commercial application and adoption has been slow. Except for crypto-currencies there is no other blockchain use-case that has been successfully implemented. Therefore, the report recommend that to build a NLBF and enable blockchain adoption, a specific legal and regulatory framework must be created.

The report says that various use-cases for blockchain should be explored in oil, pharmaceutical industry or government enabled marketing  and in “public digital platforms” like agriculture, health and energy and other areas. Further it identified several use-cases for blockchain to be implemented in national-level projects. These include land records, digital certificates, pharmaceutical supply chains, identity management, power distribution, health record management, chit funds, digital evidence management and others.

Other recommendations

  • Encourage advanced research in blockchain focused on standards, interoperability, scalability, consensus mechanism, security, privacy and secure smart contracts
  • National resource infrastructure should be created for offering Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS)
  • Existing data centre infrastructure can be utilised for enabling BaaS
  • Create blockchain sandbox environments for development and testing

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