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Blockchain and Government of Karnataka — an emerging love story

Sampath Putrevu
16th Feb 2018
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Though the recent Union Budget discouraged the usage of cryptocurrency, Blockchain Technology, the superpower behind it, continues to intrigue the state governments of the country and Karnataka has just joined the club.

"You all think the government cannot do something out of the box, you all think the government cannot do something out of the box successfully,” are the two reasons humorously quoted by Priyank Kharge, Minister of Information Technology, Karnataka, as to why the Government of Karnataka has conducted a Blockchain conclave today. As he inaugurated the conference in Bengaluru, representatives and enthusiasts of technology from all across the world watched with zeal and anticipation.

‘Disruptive’, ‘revolutionary’ and ‘emerging’ were the buzzwords that reverberated across the hall at the conclave. Needless to say, the buzzwords were used to describe the on-demand technology that is resonating with all kinds of trends around the world — Blockchain.

The minister continued to say that Blockchain is the most intriguing revolutionary technology today that needs to be analysed carefully. He pointed out that there is a significant lack of awareness on Blockchain in all sectors other than banking, and that is where this conclave fills the gaps and sheds light on enlightening representatives from all sectors.

Kharge said,

"Everybody wants Bitcoin but nobody knows what to do with it. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said it's illegal but we'll see where it can be used. It's banned but it's not banned. We should wait for Mr Adani or Mr Ambani to dig further and figure it out for all of us."

Evolution of internet and mobile phones did not happen overnight, and similarly, the world will have to wait, watch, understand and see Blockchain evolve as well. Kharge mentioned that he wanted to understand how it works for the government and how it can be used as a better delivery mechanism anywhere.

"We did a blockchain hackathon recently and the response was commendable. Ninety percent of the participants stayed back to showcase their solutions to the government. We actually used a few of them in our government departments. We wanted to figure out if Blockchain technology can actually solve real-world problems," Kharge said as he urged the startup ecosystem in Karnataka to come forward and help the government understand the technology to the best possible extent.

With cryptocurrency being a taboo in the Indian financial space, owing to the prospective complexities around the currency falling under the table and consequently into the wrong hands, it was clear that the Government of India is not entirely comfortable with the concept of cryptocurrency. However, the national administration is aware of the scale and magnitude of Blockchain and the magic it can create in several applications outside the crypto space.

While it is widely known already that Blockchain is the spearheading technology behind cryptocurrency, looking at the bigger picture, Bitcoin can potentially foster world peace but can also destroy that if it falls into the wrong hands.

The conclave equally stressed on the negative energy cryptocurrency could unleash while it was at glorifying Blockchain as a premium technology.

Kharge, as part of the Government of Karnataka, intends to partner with the private sector to cater to the startup ecosystem as well. He remarked that even though we are all excited about the magic of Blockchain, there are challenges to be considered.

Kharge said,

"I need to hear what the startups want, what the innovators want. We want to understand the technology well, so we are inviting all the sectors to help us understand what Blockchain is all about and where it can be utilised efficiently."
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