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Indian Minister Believes Blockchain Can Transform Government Schools

Indian Minister Believes Blockchain is The Way Forward to Transform Government Schools

  • An Indian minister wants the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to leverage blockchain for improving government schools.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, India’s Union Minister for Communications and IT, challenged the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to implement blockchain technology to develop a solution aimed at bringing progress in government schools. As per the report by Press Trust of India, the minister made the speech at the inauguration of a Centre of Excellence (CoE) in blockchain tech set up by NIC in Bangalore.

The minister emphasized the need to include startups in the venture owing to the rapid growth of tech startups in the country. He said that of the 26,000 startups of India, 9000 are involved in technology and that the government should open the door of opportunities for the same. He stated:

“Blockchain technology would open up new frontiers in the area of governance, treasury management, excise operations etc, adding that he would like to see its use in the field of agriculture, health, primary education etc.”

There have been several instances where the government officials of India have endorsed blockchain to boost various sectors, despite the not so supportive crypto stance. Recently, Kerala’s IT Secretary recommended blockchain to boost the financial system and human resources in the state.

 

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Startups in India Key Reason for Blockchain Boost in 2020

Startups key reason to boost blockchain tech in India

  • Blockchain in India to gain momentum in 2020, driven by startups

Indian startups are to play a huge role in shifting its paradigm towards blockchain next year. This shift in paradigm will be from trials to practical cases next year. The Nasscom Report of 2019 states that almost half of the blockchain projects in the nation involve startups. Despite this, Indian startups received only 0.2% (about USD 11 Million) of the global investments by venture capitalists.

In order to fully realize the competency of blockchain solutions, it becomes necessary for all the major industry stakeholders to establish cooperation. The regulatory restrictions on blockchain are close to none if it is used as DLT.

“The world over, a lot of consortium’s have emerged, the cooperation has to extend to the next level, where regulators, compliance keepers, banks and financial institutions collaborate along with technology firms,” said Rajashekara V Maiya, head of Business Consulting, Cloud & Blockchain Business, at Infosys Finacle.

It is important to note here that India does not regard cryptocurrencies as legal tender. This considered its transformation towards more blockchain-oriented solutions is an interesting endeavor. In fact, the top banks of India are working towards blockchain-based funding to various small and medium scale enterprises (SME’s). In addition, the Government of India is also becoming an increasing consumer of blockchain solutions with more than 40 blockchain projects being a part of the public sector.

 

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New Hindu Nation Off Ecuador Will Use Crypto

  • A new island nation off the coast of Ecuador called the Republic of Kailaasa plans on using cryptocurrency
  • The crypto will be based on a Dharmic economy where people get wealth by being charitable

Nithyananda, a Hindu spiritual leader who has numerous followers but is technically a fugitive on the run from Indian authorities, is establishing the Republic of Kailaasa on an undisclosed island off the coast of Ecuador. Apparently this new nation will have its own Central Bank, called the Hindu Investment and Reserve Bank, and it will issue its own cryptocurrency.

The Republic of Kailaasa plans on being a pure Hindu society, where those of the faith can practice their religion without censorship from the government. This new country will have a Dharmic economy, which aims to bring a paradigm shift. Typically, people plan on getting rich and then giving to charity, but in the Dharmic economy, people give to charity and then get rich.

The Hindu Investment and Reserve Bank at the center of this Dharmic economy will be owned in a decentralized way, and its supply of money will not be contaminated by fiat, since the people establishing the Republic of Kailaasa believe that banks and governments use fiat to enrich themselves at the expense of the people. Cryptocurrency is an ideal choice for this new country since a proper decentralized cryptocurrency cannot be printed at will.

 

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Blockchain Based P2P Solar Energy Trading Becomes a Reality in India

Blockchain-Based P2P Solar Energy Trading a Reality in India

Blockchain Based P2P Solar Energy Trading Becomes a Reality in India

  • India’s Uttar Pradesh state ties up with Australian blockchain startup Power Ledger to facilitate peer-to-peer solar energy trading

Uttar Pradesh, the largest state in India by population, has developed a blockchain-based solar energy trading infrastructure. The government buildings in Uttar Pradesh will use solar devices to generate electricity, which can then be sold to neighboring households using blockchain platform Power Ledger.

This new initiative will be led by two local bodies, namely, the Uttar Pradesh New and Renewable Energy Development Agency (UPNEDA) and the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation (UPPCL). The State government has already formulated a framework regulating the peer-to-peer transfer of energy as a part of the first phase. This will be followed by a detailed analysis to make the necessary amendments to the regulations to facilitate a smooth process.

Australian firm Power Ledger will facilitate transferring the decentralized power. Moreover, the company will integrate smart meters to track the real-time trading of energy and the associated pricing. The technological aspect of this project will be inspected by India Smart Grid Forum (ISGF), a public-private relationship.

This move by India brings to light the focus of its government on blockchain-based projects, considering its neighbor China’s aggressive push towards utilizing this technology. As previously reported by BitcoinNews.com, peer-to-peer energy trading is already becoming a popular idea, with many entities stimulating the same.

 

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Indian Defense Minister Talks About the Role of Blockchain in Warfare

Indian Defense Minister Talks Blockchain in Warfare

Indian Defense Minister Talks About the Role of Blockchain in Warfare

Indian defense minister Rajnath Singh believes that blockchain will play a significant role in modern warfare. In an address to envoys of more than 80 countries before the country’s DefExpo 2020 conference next February, Singh said that Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data will be required for the next generation of warfare.

Rajnath Singh said:

“The role of AI, big data and blockchain technologies has already revolutionized the existing paradigm of warfighting. The defence industry is undergoing a churning to cope and employ these technologies, in order to safeguard the safety and security of critical infrastructure.“

Considering the shift in the pattern of warfare techniques from land, sea and air to cyberspace and outer space, digital means of combat could potentially play a huge role. The defense minister emphasized the dual goal of preparing for contingencies and the threat from various sources, and at the same time have the ability to respond proactively if necessary.

As reported earlier, the concept of using blockchain in the defense sector is not the first, with the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) examining the scope of blockchain in the defense strategy. Last year, the US overseas military personnel announced a voting system via a blockchain mobile app so that servicemen could vote in midterm elections. 144 military personnel stationed overseas from 24 counties cast their ballots on a mobile, blockchain-based platform called Voatz.

 

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Could Land Registry on Blockchain End Ownership Dispute Woes?

Could Land Registry on Blockchain End Ownership Dispute Woes?

In today’s world, nothing screams louder about transparency, trust, and immutability than the blockchain. Perhaps these qualities may now be considered more of a cliché on the internet, they still hold true when it comes to using the technology as irrefutable proof of ownership.

The blockchain is now an inspiring landmark in estate management, as it is increasingly being adopted as a platform for land registry, property ownership records, as well as a secure, trusted property sales and management system, thereby eliminating distrust flaws in the sector.

A great number of blockchain startups are addressing one of the direst situations in estate management – land disputes. Broadly speaking, the lack of proper deed-titling afflicts a host of physical asset classes such as lands, houses, and cars – a problem thought to be worth about USD 20 trillion globally. The good news is with blockchain-enabled registry hope could be restored to billions of people whose property may at some point become casualties of bad socio-economic infrastructure.

Although many government policies and institutions such as the United Nations have made attempts to provide lasting solutions to stem the tides of corruption and disputes in land claims, the fact of the matter remains: policies are instituted by humans and they can thwart or manipulate them for personal advantages. This makes such systems rather unreliable despite sunken huge investments.

A developing world perversion

For most people living in developing countries, proof of land ownership can be a real pain, as these geographical locations are continuously taunted by poor economic conditions, and the land registry sector isn’t left out. Numerous cases of land disputes involving ownership claims with only word-of-mouth historical accounts to back them have led to several social degradative vices as well as continuous tension on land acquisition and property security.

Just some days back, a land-related crises led to the deaths of nine people in India, when a claim to a deed purchased two years ago resulted into a shootout.

Sonbhadra: Casualties reported after firing between two groups over a land dispute in Ghorawal today; District Magistrate Ankit Kumar Agarwal says, “We can’t tell exact numbers as of now. 9 persons brought to District Hospital. Some are injured & some are dead.” pic.twitter.com/QDeL1QylFK

— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) July 17, 2019

In India, land disputes are mostly attributed to conflicting laws and with the majority of cases ending up in court:

“Land disputes account for the largest set of cases in Indian courts – 25% of all cases decided by the Supreme Court involved land disputes, of which 30% were related to acquisition; and surveys suggest that 66% of all civil cases in India are related to land or property disputes.”

This brings to question whether algorithmic governance – where code is law – could play a significant role in reducing the number of land-disputes that make it to court, with technologies such as smart contracts easing trades among parties, thereby instituting transparency and disintermediation of trust. However, for the already existing cases of land disputes, without prior legal documents backing up claims, judgments are more likely to be based on emotion rather than fact and truth.

In general, systemic fault-lines within government structures make it rather impossible to implement efficient land administration. In other words, “many constitutive and regulative institutions suffer from massive functional deficits” and, therefore, constitute fundamental cracks to theoretically foolproof land administration policies. And that’s just a part of the problem – policies lacking sufficient empirical infrastructures.

Unwitting victims

About a year ago, a report by Reuters reflects the dire situation of land ownership in Kenya, where;

“Two-thirds of Kenya’s land is customarily owned by communities without formal title deeds, making it easy for corrupt individuals to sell or lease the land without the communities’ knowledge.”

A Kenyan victim of double ownership of a piece of land Joseph Njuguna shared his story with Reuters of how he had been displaced of his alleged rights to a piece of land he purchased more than half a decade back and was suddenly overthrown by another citizen whose claim wasn’t backed either by any document. He told the news outlet:

“I asked for the title and he couldn’t produce it. But he still claimed the plot was his.”

Another story told by Humphrey Kitala a Kenyan who bought half an acre for USD 30,000 through what seemed to be a legitimate estate management agency, only to discover a month later that he was a victim of double ownership – with title deeds on both ends.

In Ghana, the situation might be worse. It was reportedly disclosed by the land commission that “more than 80% of landowners lack title 60 years after independence”, with land ownership loosely held by oral agreements.

In a more elaborate view, with two-thirds of lands in Africa owned communally, the exposure to land-related fraud is inevitable as a cross-section of the population is void of title deeds. And in the case where one exists, authenticity is an accompanying problem in most cases.

In other countries like Brazil where disparate history books exist for land registry and the situation is further complicated with about 3,400 private firms who check and register land ownership, further plunging the hideous system into a downward spiral of double allocation.

Blockchain land registry to dissolve land disputes

Situations such as those of Njuguna and Humphrey as well as the “corrupt cartels [who] often make entire files disappear so that they can illegally acquire and transfer lucrative plots, from public forests to school playgrounds” have inspired startups and real estate firms like Land Layby to adopt blockchain technology to seamlessly address the fraudulent acts involved in land registry.

In Ghana, Bitland seems to be doing a pretty good job in confronting the woes of land disputes and aims to “unlock trillions of dollars in locked capital”.

In June, Cyrela Brazil Realty, a giant in the real estate business in the country opted for blockchain-based land registry. Meanwhile, In Georgia, developments towards blockchain-based land registry have been ongoing for a while now, and it seems the adopters tout the abilities of the blockchain to allow them to cut the cost of property rights registration, aid in real-time auditing of the registry, as well as add a layer of security to the registry data.

With other parts of the world explore opportunities of blockchain-based land registry at a fast pace, it only seems logical for developing nations of the world to adopt what works when it comes to land registry, and there’s no denying the fact that blockchain is position to revolutionize the estate industry with credibility based on its immutability and trust infrastructure. Sometime last year, the UK’s HM Land Registry launched a project based on the distributed ledger technology to revolutionize the process of land registration in the company, to hopefully gain faster, simpler and cheaper land registration process.

Having blockchain-based solution isn’t enough, and alone it becomes inoperable. It requires adoption, integration and adequate understanding of the working parts.

 

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India Central Bank Developing Blockchain Portal

India Central Bank RBI Developing Blockchain Portal

The latest twist in the Indian crypto and blockchain scene sees the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) reportedly developing a blockchain portal for banking, according to a report by BusinessLine.

Supposedly dealt with by the Indian central bank’s research and development unit, the new blockchain platform is looking to host several blockchain applications and should be operational by 2020. The portal will be a model platform that can provide services to banks as well as “for blockchain applications for the government in banking”, according to the director of The Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology at RBI’s R&D branch, Dr AS Ramasastri.

Depending on which side you are on in India, the country has been either non-committal with regards to the status of blockchain and crypto, or it has been supportive of the state entering into blockchain, while not being as friendly toward crypto. RBI has said in the past that its regulatory sandbox would welcome blockchain technology, but has no room for such things as crypto, coin offerings and exchanges. Just last week, BitcoinNews.com reported that India’s largest crypto exchange, Koinex, had finally shut down due to complications with its legal status and difficulties in remaining operational.

A week earlier, the Economic Times said that Facebook was not going to seek registration of its Libra crypto with RBI, acknowledging perhaps that the central bank would not heed any type of crypto, even from a recognized name in the tech space.

The Indian government has been reported to be considering a complete ban of crypto, and a lot of news has been circulating as to the extent of this ban. RBI itself, however, has denied any involvement in drafting up this new legislation.

 

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Koinex, India’s Largest Crypto Exchange, Shuts Down

Koinex shuts down amidst unclear regulations

Earlier today, India’s largest digital asset exchange, Koinex dropped a bombshell on the crypto enthusiasts in India by announcing its closure. After a long period of regulatory uncertainty with a draft bill proposed to impose severe punishments for any kind of crypto dealings, the wings of another avenue for speculation of the crypto space has been clipped as trading volumes saw a sharp decline.

Set up in 2017, Koinex managed to provide Indians with full-fledged trading facilities with international counterparts. The company’s popularity escalated within four months and it witnessed a record-breaking USD 265 million in trading volume in December.

In April 2018, the RBI issued a circular, thereby prohibiting all financial institutions from maintaining relationships with companies and individuals dealing with virtual currencies. Although this decision was challenged in the Supreme Court, the status quo continues till today with no adequate clarification. Crypto advocates like Nischal Shetty defended the industry as he said:

“It’s not that we are resisting regulation. We don’t feel that a blanket ban is the way to go. No democratic country has banned cryptocurrency. The US, UK, Japan and European Nations have allowed its use even as they continue to frame regulations around it.”

Rahul Raj, the co-founder of Koinex said that after the RBI ban, Koinex faced a lot of issues with respect to a smooth operation due to closure of bank accounts holding user deposits.

“We took on immense financial burden to continue trading of digital assets and allow law-abiding Indians to participate in the decentralized revolution that has swept across the globe. Multiple delays by the government agencies in clarifying the regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies despite our pending writ petition in the Supreme Court of India, coupled with regular disruption in our operations, the final decision has been taken after duly considering all the latest developments in the crypto and blockchain industry in India.”

What happens to India’s Future?

The press release provides insight into Indian government’s remiss in continuously delaying clarification of the regulatory framework. The Indian community has been petitioning the government for faster regulations as a feeling of insecurity and discomfort has enveloped the citizens which will lead to the inevitable stifling of the economy.

Last year, another major crypto exchange, Zebpay had to shut down following RBI’s ban on virtual currencies. Having lost 3 million investors, Zebpay moved to Malta. The Indian government’s regulatory stance seems so unclear that even the major crypto entrepreneurs do not see positive regulations coming their way, at least not anytime soon. Raj said:

“We have stayed away from disclosing details to the public in the larger interest of mindfully steering the industry towards positive regulations, but unfortunately we’re not too hopeful that things will change for the better in the near future.”

One of the biggest challenges that these companies have to face is establishing economic feasibility to operate smoothly as they are continuously subjected to the government’s scrutiny. The cost of operation of the platform is substantially high. With this comes a plethora of expenditures to take care of legal and customer support to conduct business in a country which is not so crypto-friendly.

Shetty, the CEO of WazirX expressed sadness at the shut down of their only competitor. This represents the unity of the crypto advocates in India standing by their belief that decentralization has the potential to create a revolution in the Indian economy.

 

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WazirX CEO: Ban Crypto to Promote Money Laundering

wazirx, india, crypto, ban

The Banning of Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill 2019 has been drafted and has started circulating in all the relevant departments, that is, the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) and the Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority (IEPFA). All these departments have approved the ban on the “sale, purchase and issuance of all types of cryptocurrencies’.

As reported earlier, the crypto communities in India revolted against this and petitioned to the government for seeking clarification on crypto regulation. In addition, it seems that positive regulation of cryptocurrencies would decrease cases of money laundering. The proper framework of cryptocurrency regulation would perhaps make it subsequently easier to trace and terminate the illegal laundering of money and tax evasion.

Nischal Shetty, the CEO of  WazirXIndia, a platform for crypto exchange, stated that:

Ban crypto to promote money laundering; Regulate crypto to prevent money laundering

As per the bill, usage of virtual currencies would impose an agonizing 10 year jail time. These harsh penalties make it seem that the authorities want to completely remove the concept of digital tokens from India. However, it is still unclear whether this bill will be passed as a law. The outright ban of cryptocurrencies, however, seems unlikely as it will serve as a potential hindrance to the technological progression of India.

WazirX CEO talks about consequence of crypto ban in India

Nischal Shetty has been a staunch supporter of cryptocurrencies through his IndiaWantsCrypto campaign. He has time and again spoken about the importance of the industry to keep up with the technological revolution. He said:

The objective of this campaign is to be heard by our law makers. India needs to be at the forefront of the crypto revolution and by being vocal about it, you and I can make that happen.

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Indian Community Petitions for Faster Crypto Regulation

india, Indian Community Petitions for Faster Crypto Regulation

Bitcoin.com reports that a gathering of crypto communities in India are now petitioning their government for faster clarification of crypto regulation. This comes after widespread reports and rumors about an upcoming Indian bill to ban crypto.

The Upper House of the Indian Parliament has also reportedly used its television network to broadcast a discussion of the bill as three Right to Information (RTI) requests are filed to the government. Blockchain Lawyer founder Varun Sethi has apparently started a petition on Change.org yesterday, addressed to the Department of Economic Affairs and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the central bank of the country.

The “Implementing Regulatory Framework for Cryptoassets in India” petition hopes to push the government to hasten its process to come up with crypto regulations and hopes to also help form the initial frameworks. It is an independent one that claims to have no private sponsorship or hopes of compensation. It reads:

“The purpose of this petition is to engage the blockchain community and the government in a more democratic and engaging environment to accelerate the implementation of regulatory framework regarding blockchain and cryptoassets in India and relinquish the ambiguity which has developed around it.”

At the time of writing, 1,581 people have signed the petition within a day, which hopes to garner 2,500 signatures.

Sethi has been an active advocate for crypto in India, and the originator of the last RTI related to the crypto bill, as last reported by Bitcoin News. The RTIs, while quickly responded to, have yet to be very helpful in clear answers, however, with the last one resulting in a denial from the central bank about any involvement with the bill.

 

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