Blockchain is the great equalizer. Stemming from no central authority and faithful to its peers, blockchain is the technology that is going to unify the world and at the same time, liberate it from a central source of overbearing authority.
Why then should India be left out of such a sweat deal that would empower economic boom and reshape the way we think of and do business? Well, the short answer is India is not falling behind. Not by a far stretch.
While blockchain legislation has seeped unconvincingly through the cracks of legislators' discontent, the man at the top, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given his curtsy bow for the adoption of this technological ark in the country.
Show Them the Way Forward, Mr. Modi
A spiritually-minded man, Mr. Modi is no stranger to the near-godliness that new technology bestows on those who yield it. During a keynote address at the India Ideas Summit, the prime minister felt obliged to share his appreciation for blockchain and its revolutionary power to transfer entire industries from scratch.
"Opportunities in technology also include opportunities in the frontier technologies of 5G, Big data analytics, Quantum computing, Blockchain and Internet of things," argued Mr. Modi with a mix of trepidation about the future and well-grounded confidence that this is the right path forward.
India's population has already expanded to the online domain, with 500 million people already happily calling themselves netizens and part of the great digital beyond. Therein lies India's potential.
A country where the median age is 26.8, India is one of the youngest continents out there, second only to Africa. As everyone gets older, technological revolutions are carried out on the backs of young idealists who lack the political clout – or outright nurture a scorn for the status quo.
Even though Mr. Modi was a bit of a contrarian himself, he seems to have done a U-Face on his personal sentiments about blockchain.
Some Revolutions Tend to Fizzle Out
Naturally, not every such revolution is successful. Most technological insurrections have to settle for a quiet way to the top and right into the mainstream. Therefore, having a friend as Mr. Modi makes a lot of sense and it gives India's blockchain proponents a friendly face in the wrinkly bunch of high politics.
And it's in politics where the trouble begins. Blockchain has enjoyed a sort of a state of limbo – not one where there is uncertainty, you see. So, perhaps, a better way to phrase this would be "a state of bliss."
There is a lot to be blissful about when it comes to blockchain. The technology has been the root in empowering the Fintech sector, it has created a way to automate burdensome processes and bring more transparency and accountability in payment processing and money transfers.
Blockchain has allowed us to monitor supply chains and follow a product from how well it performed during quality control to the time it hit the retailer's shelf. Other clever, and real-world uses of the blockchain, include data sharing, digital voting, food safety and, virtually, anything you can imagine.
Tax regulation and compliance is also on the list. Even the pesky Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States is finally recognizing the importance of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
And, while the IRS probably believes blockchain and cryptocurrencies are a good idea and a benefit to society, GamblingNews.com reports that the watchdog has recently started a call for proposals to select developers of technology that would allow the regulator to trace anonymous crypto tokens such as Monero. All for the greater good, it seems.
That brings us to the next logical step of this narrative: where does India stand on blockchain adoption and cryptocurrency in general?
Well, that depends. Mr. Modi makes for a good poster boy and has the right, thumbs-up attitude when it comes to embracing innovation from blockchain to 5G, but the true is that the Reserve Bank of India (RSI) and the Supreme Court of India do tend to have their own opinions.
The Legal Mess in India Is Easily Reversible
India tends to be in a mess of its own doing – or rather lack of action. The Supreme Court has flashed its teeth, cautioning blockchain and cryptocurrency enthusiasts to tread carefully. However, even the court gave up on the gung-ho approach and lifted the ban in March this year. Then, the Reserve Bank of India had to step in and assure financial institutions and blockchain innovators that the time to act was now and the coast was clear of any legal hurdles.
Yet, this opinion contrasts – somewhat starkly if we may add – with what former Finance Secretary of India, Subhash Chandra Garg, said in July, 2019 who was in fact working on a bill that if passed successfully would make it not only illegal to hold cryptocurrencies, but also punish owners with prison time.
It's All Clickbaits Says Report
If Mr. Modi himself has said that there would be no further criminalization of promising technology, why is everyone feeling a little uneasy? Well, for once, a report by Bloomberg has put investors and stake-holders on edge. According to an article published in mid-September Mr. Garg's brainchild bill was in fact undergoing a revision before another crack at restricting a few crypto freedoms.
Yet, politicians have seemed unmoved by overseas report of the imminent end of a technology they have felt very well-disposed to. Subramanian Swamy, a member of the upper house of Indian Parliament, has reassuring tweeted that cryptocurrencies are inevitable.
CoinSwitch CEO Ashish Singhal has spoken to CoinTelegraph recently and confirmed that, upon examining recently-filed bills to the Parliament, there seemed to be no bill that purported a reversal on the current progress achieved in the legalization of blockchain and cryptocurrency in the country.
Siddharth Sogani, founder of blockchain research company Crebaco, another Indian firm, went so far as to describe the news clickbaity. With Mr. Garg gone, Bloomberg doing some faulty reporting for the nonce and the prime minister winking playfully at cryptocurrencies, can we imagine a future without cryptocurrencies?
"It would be madness," some of India's most prominent crypto experts answer succinctly.