With all too obvious shades of George Orwell and Jackboots, a new “Control Commission” was never going to be a runner for India, so when the Orwellian sounding Independent Evaluation Office recommended just such a body be created in place of the Planning Commission, Prime Minister Modi wisely gave it the cold shoulder: he went instead for the cosier sounding National Institution for Transforming India, or NITI Aayog (“NITI”) for short, and the new body convened for the first time in 2015. So why does that matter? Well, the current Chairman of NITI is a certain Narenrda Modi and its core purpose is to decide “national development priorities, sectors, and strategies”: so take note, NITI and Mr. Modi have just decided Blockchain is a national priority.
Blockchain technologies will “empower citizens through increased transparency, decentralization and added accountability…and has the clear potential radically to improve living standards across the country”. So says NITI. And who in their right mind is going to vote in favour of increased transparency, added centralisation and less accountability: only, one suspects, a certain class of desiccated bureaucrats with something to hide and a preference for life in the shadows. Narendra Modi is certainly not one of them.
So despite all the huffing and puffing going on in Indian Government circles at the moment (not least from Reserve Bank lawyers shuttling backwards and forwards, to the Supreme Court every couple of weeks), this latest pronouncement is the clearest signal possible that Blockchain will be front and centre in the future of India’s economy.
Snappily titled “Blockchain: The India Strategy – Towards Enabling Ease of Business” (who on earth makes these things up?), the NITI Report has identified a number of key areas for potential innovation, including better contract management, improved procurement and enhanced quality controls across existing supply chains: not to mention the much-heralded prospect of a radical decentralisation in current decisionmaking powers across the subcontinent.
Of course the streamlining of land registry records and property transfers has already been widely trailed, as has a more transparent (and cheaper) Blockchain-based pharmaceutical supply infrastructure, but the Report now goes much further by highlighting the possibility of additional innovated changes in areas such as issue of educational certificates (where fraud is currently a major issue), insurance, agriculture, and energy trading markets. All will now be targeted for the delivery of new decentralised social networks, and in a masterly display of understatement the Report’s authors caution the Government to give each of them “special attention”. Bearing in mind the identity of NITI’s Chairman, there can be little doubt it will.
And just to ram the point home for those still of an agnostic disposition, the Report concludes on a suitable ringing note: “India now has a unique opportunity for the government to take the lead in creating public digital infrastructure and allow private sector innovation to leverage it for further development.”
When NITI Aayog was created in 2015, the former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley went on record to say the predecessor body was fit only for a “command economy structure and had become redundant…India is now a diversified country and a ‘one size fits all’ approach to economic planning is obsolete. That cannot make India competitive in today’s global economy.”
There couldn’t be a better expression of why Blockchain will be so important for India’s future and why, far from being redundant, NITI has the resolve and resources to make sure it takes its proper place…and soon.
North Block Capital Fund is structured to make the most of the exciting opportunities India has to offer, launching in Blockchain DLT and Crypto Currencies. It draws specifically on the company’s unparalleled expertise in the subcontinent’s markets because when it comes to India, nobody understands those markets better than Red Ribbon.
With all of the conflicting and confusing public statements over the last year and a half, not to mention the ongoing tussles in the Supreme Court, its about time we had a clear and cogent expression of Blockchain’s future in the Indian economy.
NIFTI has now given us that and we should be grateful: we wait now for its Chairman to act on the findings…as I’m sure Mr Modi will.