Caste, Covid and Diploma Certificates Go on Blockchain in Maharashtra

After issuing Covid vaccination certificates on blockchain with a verification QR code, the Maharashtra government is using blockchain in other areas too as part of its e-governance strategy. The latest is the pilot project for issuing caste certificates on blockchain so as to prevent fake entities from misusing the reservation system for jobs and education. The pilot for caste certificates, launched in April this year, has been going on in the Gadchiroli district, and the aim is to issue over 1 million certificates. Adaptation is key to survival, and this is certainly true in the case of the caste system.

The villages of Etapalli and Bhamragad have a large tribal population, and this makes for a good use case for conducting a blockchain pilot, which is currently operating as a fully functional project. The certificate is issued using the Polygon blockchain, an L1 layer system running over Ethereum that makes it faster and easier. No personal data is stored on the blockchain itself, and elements of the certificates are hashed and stored cryptographically.

For those wondering how such technologies help, the verification process takes days and months cumulatively and is resource consuming. With blockchain, verification can be done in just a few seconds.

Earlier this year, Maharashtra had issued over one lakh diploma certificates using Polygon. The current project in Gadchirolli has been rolled out in partnership with LegitDoc. LegitDoc is a patent-filed, blockchain-based system for issuing and verifying digital documents, as per its website. Its use cases include the world’s largest blockchain-powered educational credentialing for MSBSD (Maharashtra State Board of Skill Development), according to its website.

The full use case report can be seen here:

A country that is leading the way in e-governance is Singapore, which rolled out an open standard called “OpenCerts” in 2019 for academic certificates.

The blockchain certificate is an advance over the currently functional digital certificates issued from MahaOnline. The digital systems aren’t however widely used in far flung areas where paper certificates are still prevalent. These can be easily counterfeited to gain access to subsidies and other state benefits meant only for specific communities, hence the need for authenticating technologies like blockchain or digital signatures.

The blockchain based certificates will be issued using CSC centers in villages. The certificates can be verified by scanning the QR code over the open verification system on the government website. The caste certificate project is overseen by District Subdivisional Officer Shubham Gupta, who described the project as a new step in democratization using Web3, where information can be made shareable and openly unfalsifiable.

The current efforts are part of the Maharashtra government’s MahaIT system for delivering government services in the form of e-governance.

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