In order to provide governance to the last man, tribals residing in the Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra have now received immutable blockchain-based caste certificates, where over 65,000 tribal members in the western part of the state are now supported.
The project, announced in March, aims to stop leaks and corruption in the supply chain of welfare initiatives supporting the tribes and other underprivileged groups in the country.
In countries like India, reservations are almost 50% to various caste groups and in order to see that reservations go to the right candidate, this blockchain-based caste certificate will play a very important role as it cannot be faked and tampered with – already known characteristics of the blockchain technology.
The idea to provide the caste certificates to tribal groups was of an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Shubham Gupta.
The officer introduced this after it came to his notice that politicians were buying tribal lands on the pretext of being tribal.
Gupta, who currently serves as Assistant Collector, Etapalli and Project Officer, ITDP, Bhamragad, Gadchiroli, Maharashtra state, over 100 caste certificates, which were produced on blockchain by a paper illustration with a verifiable QR code, were distributed.
Of the 250,000 people living in the region, 200,000 (or around 80%) are tribe members, of which over 65,000 tribals will get the caste certificate in the first phase.
“Everyone thinks of development as providing basic subsistence needs like food, bamboo for shelter, a cow or a goat (through animal husbandry initiatives)”, Gupta said, “But no one has addressed fairness for them, maybe because the people right here aren’t tech smart”.
Polygon based protocol
The caste certificates are based on Polygon-based blockchain protocols.
Speaking on this, Neil Martis, founder of LegitDoc, the Web3 startup through which this project is being implemented, has said that projects like these would enable the state government to control the menace of forgeries.
Additionally, it would assist in selecting the proper recipients for government programs and benefits.
“Such a deployment sets a precedent for India to emerge as the frontier in building tech stacks on neutral web3 platforms, which are decentralization-aligned, de-platform-resistant alternatives to the censorship-prone US and Chinese dominated digital tech stacks”, Martis said.
This new approach would generate a special QR code made up of blockchain proofs that would be inscribed on each caste certificate and cryptographically commit specific information from each caste certificate retrieved from the government’s MahaOnline portal to the Polygon blockchain.
Additionally, these certifications would be issued through CSCs, which are accessible in all villages.
The process would be more streamlined and tamper-proof thanks to the open verification system, being accessible on the government website, and allowing government departments or any other third parties to check the legitimacy of a certificate with the click of a mouse.
Despite laws like the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989), India’s caste system continues to be a pervasive reality and social prejudice and atrocities against backward castes continue to occur.
More than 40% of the 1.3 billion people that call the country home are from lower castes, and 9% are tribal people.
With the recent appointment of a tribal woman, Droupadi Murmu, as the 15th Indian president, focus on tribal development is back in focus. As per an estimate, there are over 126 million tribes based in various states there is a need to spread this to all the tribals, so that misuse of caste certificates can be stopped. This is just a one-use case where blockchain technology can bring a change to a society that has been waiting for years to get its share of development and justice.