IIT Kanpur to design Rs 334-mn blockchain architecture for e-governance

Even as the jury is still out on the blockchain technology in India, the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K) has been engaged by a central cybersecurity agency to develop an indigenous blockchain architecture.

The Rs 334-million project has been commissioned by the Office of the National Cyber Security Coordinator to develop a blockchain platform to be used in e-governance. Noted cybersecurity expert Gulshan Rai is currently holding the post of the National Cyber Security Coordinator.

IIT-K professors Manindra Agrawal and Sandeep Shukla of the Department of Computer Science & Engineering are the principal investigators, who would work in collaboration with IIT Madras professor Shweta Agrawal on the project. A company would be incubated at IIT Kanpur to transfer the technology into the product.

To tackle the rising cyber security challenges, the National Cyber Security Policy 2013 was released in July 2013 with the purpose of ensuring a secure and resilient cyberspace for citizens, businesses and government. Of late, blockchain technology has emerged an effective cybersecurity tool for securing data. In fact, many states including Maharashtra, are mulling adopting blockchain for e-governance.

Largely known in the context of Bitcoin, the blockchain technology has application in other verticals also to provide a tamper-proof recording mechanism for events, transactions and data. It is tamper resistant and has an inbuilt mechanism to record events with time stamps, so that data provenance, data integrity and order of creation of data can be recorded.

For transparent e-governance, blockchain is now seen as a great enabler. Many countries viz. Estonia, the UK and the UAE have been leveraging this technology, primarily for digital identity management, government record management and insider-threat proof IT systems.

According to IIT-K, blockchain has application value for a land record, registry management, driving license, identity management, as well as insider threat management in the context of cybersecurity.

Agarwal told Business Standard the project represented the first attempt in India to design and develop a blockchain platform for e-governance and to integrate the various applications in it.

Meanwhile, IIT-K is also working on new age semiconductor devices, which could be used by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in indigenous space exploration. The Institute is also working with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for similar cutting-edge projects.

IIT-K has developed Integrated Circuit design simulation software, which has been approved as an industry standard model by Compact Model Coalition (CMC), a global R&D group formed by the semiconductor industry to develop and standardise simulation programmes for Integrated Circuits.

The research has received a grant of 70,000 US dollars per year towards further R&D on semiconductors. A team led by Prof Yogesh Chauhan of IIT-K Department of Electrical Engineering and his Australian collaborator have evolved this technology after 5 years of intensive research.

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