Having completed three years since its formation, the Niti Aayog is now working towards adoption of frontier technologies such artificial intelligence and blockchain in the areas of governance. The government think-tank believes that such technologies will result in significant benefits if deployed in the areas of education and health, among others.
In a note highlighting its achievements in the last three years, Niti Aayog said it “is working on a strategy paper for blockchain in India which will outline use cases as well as map out the schemes of Government of India that stand to benefit from the utilisation of the technology.” Blockchain technology allows digital information to be distributed but not copied.
“It is like a distributed ledger. Suppose, you have made 50000 photocopies of a book and you make some change in the original book, then the blockchain technique allows you to replicate the change in all the copies by changing just the original book. We are still exploring and believe this technology can have potentially beneficial uses in the areas of education, health, social sector etc,” a senior official at the Aayog said, asking not to be named.
Blockchain technology was originally used to create crypto-currencies such Bitcoin, but is now being expanded for being used in other fields. “The government’s stand on bitcoin is clear that it is not legal. But blockchain has other beneficial uses,” the official said.
“NITI is exploring ways in which blockchain can transform governance for India. International hackathon were conducted at IIT Delhi from November 10th to 12th, 2017 on blockchain in which working prototypes were solicited from premier international and national institutes on social applications of blockchain,” the Aayog said.
Partner organisations from private sector as well as state/UT government are being identified to implement proof-of-concepts utilizing blockchain technology in different sectors. NITI is parallely working on a platform called ‘IndiaChain’, which will be a shared, India-specic blockchain infrastructure for India utilizing the power of the Jan-Dhan-Yojana, Aadhaar, and mobile trinity and enable blockchain developers to build social applications, it said.
The Aayog said it is also leading the initiative of making India a leader in the global space on the Artificial Intelligence (AI) research with focus on adopting AI to address problems faced in developing countries. To set the context and develop the requisite ecosystem for utilizing AI technology for key sectors, viz. Education, health and agriculture, NITI held two international scale hackathons on AI and organized a national case study competition on use of AI in the field of AgriTech. “NITI has already begun exploring ways in which advanced encryption technologies can be used so that data can be used for training AI algorithms while maintaining individual privacy,” it said.
The think tank said it is at an advanced stage on developing a National Data and Analytics Portal. Apart from being a single point source of sectoral data for researchers, policymakers and citizens, this portal will enable training dataset sharing between different organisations for AI applications. This platform will facilitate a policy support system through accurate sourcing, storing, analysing and presentation of data in a usable and visually appealing manner, it said.
“This platform will meet internationally accepted standards for safeguarding the privacy of individuals and entities and ensuring the security of data, systems and platforms. The sourcing of data will be from the Ministries and Departments of the Government of India, State Governments, and the agencies and organisations under the administrative control of such Ministries and Departments. The NDAP will be accessible to all individuals and public and private entities,” the Aayog said.