The Indian government continues to project a deep level of hypocrisy as it turns its attention to sponsoring a blockchain and cryptocurrency course. The government is simultaneously proposing an insane anti-crypto billwith hard jail-time for bitcoin users.
The undergraduate course, which is entitled Blockchain Architecture Design and Use Cases, is completely free unless you want a relatively inexpensive certificate. Cryptocurrency is hugely popular in India, and the government’s indecision on the blockchain is no doubt leaving many local enthusiasts confused.
Building on Closed Blockchains?
SWAYAM, or Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds, is the government-backed initiative running the course. The mouth-juggling organization begins the opening statement for this particular course by saying:
“The widespread popularity of digital cryptocurrencies has led the foundation of blockchain, which is fundamentally a public digital ledger to share information in a trustworthy and secure way.”
Readers should not miss the irony in this statement considering the course’s technical partner. IBM has built its reputation in crypto on the back of permissioned, or closed blockchains, a term that is laughable in the space since the whole philosophy behind the movement is to decentralize networks in the first place.
Considering one of the instructors, Dr. Praveen Jayachandran, works for IBM India, a large part of the course material will be skewed toward their blockchain product – Hyperledger Fabric – naturally.
Jumping on the Blockchain Bandwagon
The Indian government seems to be jumping on the blockchain bandwagon with this one as it punts the popularity of the “blockchain” keyword in the promotional video. It uses Google Trends to show a marked difference with the keyword “deep learning.”
It also conveniently fits the chart into the same time frame as the runaway bull market of 2017 when people were arguably more interested in the price of bitcoin compared to anything else. A recent chart shows a more balanced view of the trends.
Indian Government Crypto Course or Crypto Curse?
Back in 2017, the Reserve Bank of India conducted major research into blockchain technology. It was so gung-ho at the time that its research arm boldly claimed:
“We recommend that the time is ripe for its adoption in India.”
This happened shortly after Indian authorities were infamously removing bank notes out of circulation, leaving many cash-only users stranded. Despite its split-personality on digital currency use in the country, the Reserve Bank has achieved very little since then, other than demonizing bitcoin of course.
Previous criticisms aside, the SWAYAM initiative is a noble idea because it provides the bulk of its courses for free. The real question you have to ask, however, is what’s in the course material and who sanctioned it?
Promoting permissioned blockchains and government-controlled cryptocurrencies to the masses could easily be viewed as propaganda. At least the course’s reading material does include some reputable sources like Andreas Antonopolous.
As cryptocurrency fans wait for the outcome of the proposed bill, you can’t help but notice how threatened the government feels by the rise of bitcoin.