Content

  1. Many vulnerabilities
  2. Pursuing national interests, at the UN high table

Editorial: Many vulnerabilities

Context:

  • The robustness of blockchains in electronic voting is, as yet, suspect.

Relevance:

  • GS Paper 3: S&T developments and everyday applications & effects; Awareness in fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nanotech, Biotech, IPR issues

Mains Questions:

  1. What is blockchains technology? Assess the role of blockchains technology in conducting the free and fair election. 15 Marks

Dimensions of the Article:

  • What is blockchains technology?
  • Applications of blockchains technology.
  • Challenges in adopting the blockchains technology
  • The government initiatives related to Blockchains Technology
  • Conclusion

What is blockchains technology?

Blockchain is a system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change, hack, or cheat the system.

  • A blockchain is essentially a digital ledger of transactions that is duplicated and distributed across the entire network of computer systems on the blockchain.
  • Each block in the chain contains a number of transactions, and every time a new transaction occurs on the blockchain, a record of that transaction is added to every participant’s ledger.
  • The decentralized database managed by multiple participants is known as Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT).
  • The blockchain technology generally has key characteristics of decentralization, persistency, anonymity and auditability. With these traits, blockchain can greatly save the cost and improve the efficiency.

Applications of blockchains technology:

  • Conducting Election: Blockchain is a permanent cryptographic record that is stored in a distributed network. Unlike a record stored in one computer or server managed by the government, it is easy to detect if a record is tampered with or altered from its original submission because all other nodes in the network will have a copy of the original record.
  • Banking & Capital Market: For efficient banking operations and efficiently using the KYC procedures offered by this technology. For instance
    • SBI leads as the first bank to use KYC and facilitate remittances based on blockchain. o Cross border remittances can be made faster and less costly.
    • Trade Settlement- Faster transfer of securities and payments and reduced trading cost by removing intermediaries.
  • Cybersecurity: Sensitive data moved to the blockchain can effectively manage access by minimizing the risk of leaks to hackers. For instance The Block Armour solution is the company which ring-fences an organization’s critical resources, securely providing access to authorized users and devices.
  • Healthcare and pharmaceuticals: It involves a lot of sensitive clinical data which demands a secure and reliable system. For instance- Blockchain-enabled mobile platform “Health-Pro” to connect hospitals, insurance companies and host medical records of patients.
  • Agriculture: The food supply chain is one characterized by asymmetry of information. The complex network comprises farmers, brokers, distributors, processors, retailers, regulators and consumers.
    • Improved data sharing will result in stakeholders getting their dues (particularly poor farmers with small land holdings) and consumers having control on food quality.
  • Telecom: to eliminate spam calls and financial fraud by unregistered telecom marketers and open up new revenue streams for the telecom companies etc.
  • Governance: Digital identities, maintaining digital certificates of citizens, monitoring welfare programs, tracking of health records of all citizens, cybersecurity of critical infrastructure etc are some of the key applications of Blockchain technology.
    • E.g. Andhra Pradesh has piloted two projects on managing land records and streamlining vehicle registrations. West Bengal has implemented Blockchain based issuance of Birth certificates to newborn.

Challenges in Adoption of Blockchain Technology:

  • Lack of Scalability can put a strain on the adoption process, especially for public blockchains. The processing speed is way less than the traditional transaction networks.
  • Lack of interoperability: Most of the blockchains present in the market work in silos. With so many different networks and approaches, the blockchain space is in a state of confusion with no clear approach and a lack of standards do not allow different networks to communicate with each other.
  • Data Portability- As with other record keeping systems, once data is logged in one system, transferring that data to a new system may be problematic.
  • Regulation- Some technologies like the permissionless Bitcoin Blockchain bypass regulation completely to tackle inefficiencies in conventional intermediated payment networks. India is yet to implement clearly defined regulations on blockchain technology.
  • Lack of awareness, high cost and limited availability of skilled workforce is also a major impediment in the development of blockchain technology.
  • 51% attack: It is a potential attack on a blockchain network, where a single entity or organization is able to control the majority of the hash rate, potentially causing a network disruption.

The government initiatives related to Blockchains Technology:

  • Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has supported a multi institutional project titled Distributed Centre of Excellence in Blockchain Technology with C-DAC, IDRBT and VJTI as executing agencies. Objectives of this initiative are
    • Evolving an ecosystem around R&D organizations, Government departments and Academia to foster Blockchain technology
    • Design, development and pilot deployment / prototyping of Blockchain based applications in the domains of Governance, Banking & Finance and Cyber Security
    • Conduct research to address the issues and challenges related to Blockchain usage in identified application domains
  • Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) in partnership with NASSCOM has launched Future Skills platform. It focuses on 10 emerging technologies including Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, etc.
  • Department of Science and Technology has launched National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber Physical Systems (NM-ICPS). It has a roadmap to develop Blockchain, AI, Internet of Things, Big Data Analytics, Robotics etc.

Conclusion

Although blockchain is in its infancy, India is pacing towards its adoption and inclusion. Implementing this technology across all spheres of business will certainly prove to be a game-changer despite the roadblocks in its adoption.


Editorial: Pursuing national interests, at the UN high table

Context:

  • India’s two-year non-permanent stint at the UNSC should be viewed as a once-in-a-decade opportunity to clearly identify and pursue its national interests regionally and globally, rather than chase chimerical goals such as a permanent membership or to issue please-all platitudes.

Relevance:

  • GS Paper 2: Important International institutions, agencies, for a (structure, mandate);

Mains Questions:

  1. India’s quest of its goals at the UNSC must have a clear agenda and also reflect its material and geopolitical limitations. Discuss. 15 Marks

Dimensions of the Article:

  • India’s Priorities in UNSC
  • Challenges related to India in UNSC
  • Way Forward

India’s Priorities in UNSC

India will be guided by the five priorities under the overarching theme of NORMS: New Orientation for a Reformed Multilateral System. These priorities include

  • New Opportunities for progress: India will work constructively with partners
    • to bring innovative and inclusive solutions to foster development
    • for greater involvement of women and youth to shape a new paradigm.
  • An Effective response to international terrorism: India will pursue concrete and result-oriented action by the Council aimed at:
    • addressing the abuse of ICT by terrorists
    • disrupting their nexus with sponsors and transnational organized criminal entities
    • stemming the flow of terror finance
    • strengthening normative and operative frameworks for greater coordination with other multilateral forums
  • Reforming the multilateral system: Widespread concern at the inadequacy of the existing multilateral institutions to deliver results or meet new challenges.
  • Reformed multilateralism: a must for the post-COVID19 era. o A first and vital step is the reform of the Security Council. It must reflect contemporary realities to be more effective.
  • A comprehensive approach to international peace and security:
    • Guided by: Dialogue and cooperation, Mutual respect, and Commitment to international law.
    • Call for greater clarity, direction, and professionalism in UN Peacekeeping Operations.
  • Promoting technology with a human touch as a driver of solutions: India will encourage partnerships to harness the benefits of technological innovation to:
    • reduce human suffering
    • enhance ease of living
    • build resilient communities

Challenges related to India in UNSC:

  • A new world order: New Delhi’s entry into the UNSC coincides with the emergence of a new world order, one marked by
    • systemic uncertainty,
    • little care for global commons,
    • absence of global leadership,
    • the steady division of the world into rival blocs,
    • an age marked by unabashed pursuit of narrow national interests, putting even the rhetoric about a value-based global order on the backburner.
  • The China Factor: New Delhi’s tenure at the UNSC comes in the wake of its growing military rivalry with Beijing, the impact of which has already started to be felt at the UNSC meetings in New York.
    • China’s opposition to having India chair the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) in 2022 was a precursor to the things to come on the high table.
  • USA vs Russia: Greater Indian alignment with the West at the UNSC, an unavoidable outcome, could, however, widen the growing gulf between Moscow and New Delhi given Russia’s increasing dependence on Beijing in more ways than one.
  • Countering Terrorism: Terror is likely to be a major focus for India at the UNSC. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s statement at the UNSC Ministerial Meeting on the 20th Anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1373 and the establishment of the Counter Terrorism Committee has set the stage for New Delhi’s approach on the issue:
    • “Terrorists are terrorists; there are no good and bad ones. Those who propagate this distinction have an agenda. And those who cover up for them are just as culpable”.

Way Forward:

New Delhi’s pursuit of its national interest at and through the UNSC must also be tempered by the sobering fact that the UNSC is unlikely to admit new members any time soon, if ever at all.

  • India’s past global engagements and efforts have often been contingent on the hope that it would one day be admitted to the UNSC given its irrefutable claim.
  • But a cursory glance at the recent debates on UNSC reforms and the state of the international system today should tell us that bending over backwards to please the big five to gain entry into the UNSC will not make a difference.
  • So New Delhi must focus its energies on what it can achieve during the short period that it would be in the UNSC rather than what it wishes happened.
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