How blockchain will fundamentally change our lives in future


Blockchain has the potential and can be implemented across diverse sectors such as banking, education, and health.

The use of the internet has undergone rapid evolution in a matter of a few decades.

In the 1990s, the internet was described as “a wide-area hypermedia information retrieval initiative aiming to give universal access to a large universe of documents” or simply put, ‘The Internet of Information’ which was primarily used to access data resources and services administered on the web browsers.

Back then, no one would have thought how it would fundamentally change our daily lives in the future. It has rapidly evolved from a platform to gather information to a space where we can shop, bank and communicate. The digital revolution has made the world realise the value of the internet and its implementations.

So, today we are gradually moving towards what Canadian strategist Don Tapscott calls ‘The Internet of Value’; that is the fountainhead of digital assets. Blockchain, which allows us to enable the exchange of any asset across the globe in real-time, ranging from stocks and bonds to music and art, is the next inevitable step in the global progress towards ‘The Internet of Value’.

Various applications of the internet have been made possible which are efficient like peer-to-peer money transfer, because internet reduces the transactional and communication cost to a bare minimum. This is the same force driving the new platforms that have emerged to deliver goods and services at levels of efficiency previously unimaginable, and blockchain is leading the revolution in redefining the new-age internet.

Like a traditional ledger, blockchain is essentially a record of transactions. These transactions can be any movement of money, goods or secure data — for example, a purchase at a supermarket, or the assignment of an Aadhar number. It works in three basic steps. First, it gathers data that the user has provided in forms of smart contracts, transactions IDs. Second, it orders the received data into blocks and finally chains them together securely using cryptography making it decentralised and accessible via any computer/mobile device across the network.

Now the question here is why do we need it? What is it that will change the way groceries are bought, stocks are purchased, money is transferred, bills are paid, and land deeds are made? The answer possibly can be the demand for trust and security emerging from both people and enterprises alike. Blockchain best serves these purposes as the trust factor is native to the medium. For example, if you are transferring money online to your friend, then your medium becomes the internet and to secure your transfer, a clever programming code is written. The same concept is applied by blockchain, but the security is made more secure by cryptography.

Blockchain has the potential and can be implemented across diverse sectors such as banking, education, and health. For instance, we keep our savings, assets and cash with banks because they are trustworthy and secure. However, their data is centralised, making them quite prone to cybercriminals that can bring the entire banking system to a halt. Now consider a person working abroad who wants to send a remittance to his family back home but has to encounter multiple clearances before his family receives it. With blockchain technology, the concept of crypto currency comes into picture, thus resulting in an open-access registry of monetary flows which makes the intermediation of financial institutions unnecessary and even costs less.

Second, in the field of healthcare, while big data analytics and artificial intelligence are simplifying healthcare delivery by smartly diagnosing the diseases from the patterns of numerous plugged-in electrocardiograms, blockchain is turning out to be a perfect platform for recording the medical attention of a patient and identifying a trend from the data recorded. Consider health card: A database which can be perceived as your health identity as it carries your entire medical history. Such technologies can find effective application in reducing information asymmetries within the healthcare and insurance markets by providing the most accurate data on patients.

Finally, blockchain can reorient the education system by delivering academic transparency. It can build an e-portfolio of academic credentials which has your test scores since the day you entered school. Paying for school fee in crypto currency — which is decentralised — from anywhere around the world on a secured network is commendable. Hence, this multi-trillion-dollar industry of education is indeed revolutionising.

Also, if implemented in government operations, blockchain will help break down barriers built from bureaucracy and corruption by providing a means to bypass existing power structures. It could be used to transform the way charities are created and regulated. By implementing a transparent system of transactions that include deposits of cash, transfers of donation and expenses spending will bring about a paradigm shift on how rules are enforced for these organisations.

Moreover, this technology has the competence to revamp the present system by automating manual processes, eradicating frauds and controlling the issues for authorisation. Its implementation across diverse sectors can be a solution to the most foundational problems of mankind. Hence, blockchain could be the perfect platform to transform a knowledge-driven economy into a digital-inclusive society.

India is world’s 40th most competitive economy: WEF

The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) is prepared on the basis of country-level data covering 12 categories or pillars of competitiveness.

India has been ranked as the 40th most competitive economy — slipping one place from last year’s ranking — on the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness index, which is topped by Switzerland.

On the list of 137 economies, Switzerland is followed by the US and Singapore in second and third places, respectively.

In the latest Global Competitiveness Report released today, India has slipped from the 39th position to 40th while neighbouring China is ranked at 27th.

“India stabilises this year after its big leap forward of the previous two years,” the report said, adding that the score has improved across most pillars of competitiveness. These include infrastructure (66th rank), higher education and training (75) and technological readiness (107), reflecting recent public investments in these areas, it added.

According to the report, India’s performance also improved in ICT (information and communications technologies) indicators, particularly Internet bandwidth per user, mobile phone and broadband subscriptions, and Internet access in schools.

However, the WEF said the private sector still considers corruption to be the most problematic factor for doing business in India.

“A big concern for India is the disconnect between its innovative strength (29) and its technological readiness (up 3 to 107): as long as this gap remains large, India will not be able to fully leverage its technological strengths across the wider economy,” it noted.

Among the BRICS, China and Russia (38) are placed above India.South Africa and Brazil are placed at 61st and 80th spots, respectively.

In South Asia, India has garnered the highest ranking, followed by Bhutan (85th rank), Sri Lanka (85), Nepal (88), Bangladesh (99) and Pakistan (115).

“Improving ICT infrastructure and use remain among the biggest challenges for the region: in the past decade, technological readiness stagnated the most in South Asia,” WEF said.

Other countries in the top 10 are the Netherlands (4th rank), Germany (5), Hong Kong SAR (6), Sweden (7), United Kingdom (8), Japan (9) and Finland (10).

The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) is prepared on the basis of country-level data covering 12 categories or pillars of competitiveness.

Institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation are the 12 pillars.

According to WEF’s Executive Opinion Survey 2017, corruption is the most problematic factor for doing business in India.

The second biggest bottleneck is ‘access to financing’, followed by ‘tax rates’, ‘inadequate supply of infrastructure’, ‘poor work ethics in national labour force’ and ‘inadequately educated work force’, among others.

The survey findings are mentioned in the report.

“Countries preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and simultaneously strengthening their political, economic and social systems will be the winners in the competitive race of the future,” WEF founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said.

Financial inequality highest in India, China: International Monetary Fund

According to IMF, China and India have grown rapidly and reduced poverty sharply, however, this impressive economic performance has been accompanied by increasing levels of inequality.

Financial inequality is highest in India and China among Asia Pacific countries despite the two being among the fastest growing economies, IMF has said.

According to the International Monetary Fund, China and India have grown rapidly and reduced poverty sharply, however, this impressive economic performance has been accompanied by increasing levels of inequality.

“In the past, rapid growth in Asia came with equitable distribution of the gains. But more recently, while the fast-growing Asian economies have lifted millions out of poverty they have been unable to replicate the ‘growth with equity’ miracle,” the Fund said.

As per the report, China managed to increase middle class in urban areas, as did Thailand, while India and Indonesia struggled to lift sizeable portions of their populations toward higher income levels.

“In India, differences between rural and urban areas have increased, and have been accompanied by rising intra-urban inequality,” it said.

Many factors have been identified as key drivers of the inequality between rural and urban areas in China and India.

In China, rapid industrialisation in particular regions and the concentration of foreign direct investment in coastal areas have led to substantial inequalities between coastal and interior regions. Other factors also include low educational attainment and low returns to education in rural areas.

On India, the report said inter provincial inequality is lower in India than in China, and rising inequality in India has been found to be primarily an urban phenomenon.

Moreover, the rural-urban income gap has increased, and higher rural inflation has been found to be a key driver of this. Educational attainment has also been identified as an important factor explaining rising inequality in India over the past two decades, the Fund said.

The two countries have introduced a number of policies to tackle the rising inequality.

China introduced the Minimum Livelihood Guarantee Scheme (Dibao) for social protection in the 1990s. Moreover, various social programs are aiming to expand social safety nets and provide support for the development of rural areas and western regions.

In India, the government introduced the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act to support rural livelihoods by providing at least 100 days of employment. Programs to improve education include the National Education Scheme and Midday Meal Scheme.

The Fund lauded the JAM (Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile) initiative and said that “the JAM trinity initiative helped India in making substantial advances in financial inclusion. More recently, programs aiming for universal bank account coverage were launched”.



Australia to collaborate with Indian researchers

The Australian government, through the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF), would collaborate with Indian researches in the field of agriculture, mining, energy, health etc. The Australian government has earmarked $84 million to be spent over three years in creating infrastructure, awarding fellowship and scholarship to promote research between the two countries.

“The Australian government greatly values strong relationship with India, particularly in education and research. We have a roadmap to promote bilateral research between the two countries. During his visit to Australia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi identified sectors like agriculture, mining, energy, health etc for research, so we have decided to enhance cooperation between the two countries in these areas, ” said Australian Minister for Education and Training Christopher Pyne, who is in India to promote research collaboration between the two countries and also to highlight the opportunities for enhanced collaboration between Australia’s world-class education system and Indian institutions.

The AISRF is Australia’s largest fund dedicated to bilateral research with any country and one of India’s largest sources of support for international science.

The AISRF helps Australian researchers from public and private sectors to participate with Indian scientists in leading-edge scientific research projects and workshops.

Taking a step forward in this direction, the minister on Saturday officially opened new facilities at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB)-Monash Research Academy.

The collaboration between the IITB and Monash University will see students receive a joint PhD from both institutions, with the added benefit of exposing a large cohort of young researchers to cutting-edge international research.

“The Australian government, through the AISRF, was one of the early contributors to this joint venture, providing $1.5 million in seed funding to establish the IITB-Monash Research Academy,” he said.

Meanwhile, he also visited Delhi Public School and launched a pilot project linking schools in India and Australia.

The Australia-Asia Building Regional Intercultural Dialogue and Growing Engagement, or BRIDGE, connects Australian teachers, students, and school communities with their peers in Asia so they can exchange knowledge.

“The BRIDGE programme connects Australian schools to schools around the world so that students and teachers alike can learn from one another and build lasting cultural ties and skills,” Pyne said.

“Strengthening partnerships between school leaders, teachers, and school communities in India and Australia helps us build strong education relationships and share our ideas and knowledge,” he said.