Blockchain Technology Overview
Blockchain is an innovative distributed ledger technology which enables a shared ledger among the various parties involved in business transactions. Blockchain eliminates the need for a central entity to validate the transactions.
Blockchain technology is an amalgamation of various technologies such as distributed systems, cryptography, etc. Data and transactions stored in blocks of Blockchain are secured against tampering using cryptographic hash algorithms. Blocks are linked with each other with proper security using hash function. Each block contains details of transactions, hash of the previous block, timestamp etc. It is difficult for an adversary to modify the stored details at majority points. Therefore, Blockchain provides better security when compared with a centralized system.
National Strategy on Blockchain Technology
Considering the potential of Blockchain Technology towards enabling trust in digital platforms, many PoCs and pilots were implemented in different application domains in various state and central Government Departments. Based on the learnings and the requirement for creating ecosystem towards large scale adoption of the emerging technology, National Blockchain Strategy was evolved and released by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in December 2021 after consultation with industry, academia and other Stakeholders.
Towards enabling trusted digital platform, the strategy inter-alia includes setting-up of National Blockchain Framework with Geographically Distributed Nodes, Blockchain-as-a-Service, Collaborative Efforts, Identification of Application Domains, R&D including standards & interoperability, Policies & Regulations, Human Resource Development and setting-up of Institutional Mechanism. National Blockchain Strategy document can be downloaded from the URL https://www.meity.gov.in/writereaddata/files/National_BCT_Strategy.pdf .
National Blockchain Framework Technology Stack
Considering the need for emerging shared Blockchain Infrastructure and cross platform application development, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has initiated a multi-institutional national level Project “Design and Development of Unified Blockchain Framework for offering National Blockchain Services and Creation of Ecosystem” to create technology stack for rapid, end-to-end, secure, scalable and interoperable Blockchain based application development and deployment, for large scale adoption. This project is being executed jointly by C-DAC, NIC, IIT Hyderabad, IIIT Hyderabad, IDRBT and SETS Chennai. Project objectives include:
• To architect an unified Blockchain technology stack for rapid, end-to-end, secure, scalable and interoperable Blockchain based application development and deployment, for large scale adoption.
• Demonstrate the evolved Unified Blockchain Framework and Applications on distributed infrastructure.
• Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) Infrastructure.
• Blockchain Sandbox that provides a Test bed for developing solutions before deploying.
• Accelerating adoption of Blockchain in Government.
• Organizing Capacity building programs and collaborating with startups.
Proposed framework provides a technology stack that would aid in rapid development of Blockchain applications, scaling the deployment for developed applications, emerge shared infrastructure and also enable cross domain application development. Since no single Blockchain platform is capable of meeting the requirements of different application domains, the proposed framework provides a standard API interface so that each application can take advantage of the platform specific strengths and leveraging the data sourced from multiple applications. The framework would hence be capable of hosting design patterns based on Smart Contract Templates addressing requirements of various domains for faster development and on-boarding of applications and providing standard API gateway for integrating the critical national applications on the Blockchain Framework.
The proposed framework also supports consensus process when different platforms / applications are being used among the business entities. It also provides confidentiality & privacy of transaction data, indigenous development of Certification Authority (CA), Software based Key Management System (KMS)and crypto modules along with well documented Security Assessment methodology across various components of Blockchain stack.
The proposed framework also facilitates onboarding existing Public digital infrastructure services such as eSign, DigiLocker, ePramaan etc. It also provides additional services namely Proof of Existence (PoE) and Proof of Storage (PoS). Proof of Existence (PoE) aids in proving the ownership and authenticity of the documents and Proof of Storage is a distributed content addressable storage mechanism to store documents.
The proposed framework would evolve into a full stack supporting various features as described in the objectives of the project and finally aims at Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) offering delivered in the NIC Cloud. It would facilitate the Government departments to develop, operate and govern a Blockchain network with the required performance and security necessary for e-Governance applications.
(Manoj Jain is Scientist ‘F’ and Anil Kumar Sagar is Scientist ‘D’ at Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India)