Karnataka to discuss need for blockchain policy this week: Priyank Kharge, State IT Minister

In an exclusive with CIO India, Karnataka IT minister, Priyank Kharge, revealed he will discuss the need for a blockchain policy with industry stakeholders on February 15, 2018. 

Apurva Venkat Feb 14th 2018

In the Union Budget 2018, Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, gave a major boost to emerging technologies by doubling the allocation to Digital India initiative to Rs 3073 crore. Soon after, this week, the Government also announced setting up four committees to encourage research and promote artificial intelligence. Jaitley had said the government will encourage the use of emerging technologies such as blockchain in government departments. 

While the finance minister announced the promotion of these emerging technologies in the current budget, the Karnataka Government claims it is already way ahead in terms of doing the same and will discuss the need for a blockchain policy soon. 

Various CoE set up GOK

  • CoE for AI, big data, machine learning.
  • CoE for Animation and Gaming.
  • CoE for IoT.
  • Upcoming: CoE for cybersecurity and Agri-tech.

“In the last one and a half year, there is a lot we have done a lot in terms of promotion of emerging technologies and are continuing to do so. In fact, we were the first state to implement a lot of these (policies for promotion),” said Priyank Kharge, Minister for IT, BT and Tourism, Government of Karnataka in an exclusive interview with CIO India. 

Edited excerpts: 

How are you particularly going to leverage blockchain technology in various government departments? 

Specifically for blockchain, we as a government are first trying to ensure that we have some kind of a use case for better governance. We had a hackathon recently, for five specific use cases relating to various departments such as the department of forest, department of power, development, and department of revenue. We had more than 600 coders who came and gave solutions for these uses cases using blockchain technology. Now the one that best suits and will be most useful for the various departments will be implemented in the respective departments. Following this, we are having a blockchain conference on Feb 15th with the policy makers and various stakeholders. We plan to discuss and see if there is a need for a specific blockchain policy from the government. 

While the Union Government has made several announcements to promote emerging technology in the Union Budget. What would Karnataka Government be doing in this regard? 

We are far ahead of the central government. While the government of India, is now harping technologies like AI etc, the government of Karnataka has been doing so for a while. We have a center of excellence for AI already set up and running. Around a year and a half ago, we set up the CoE for the Internet of Things. We have already come up with a CoE for big data, AI, and machine learning. We also have a CoE working in the aerospace sector. We even have a CoE specifically for animation and gaming. All these centers are working to provide people with resources and guidance that can help them come up with solutions that can be used for benefiting people.

"We are far ahead of the central government. While the government of India, is now harping the technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) etc, the Government of Karnataka has been doing so for a while.”


Priyank Kharge, Minister for Science, IT, BT and Tourism, Government of Karnataka

Whenever there is a solution that can help the government departments in any way, we use them also. We regularly conduct hackathons for specific use cases and invite coders to give us solutions using emerging technologies that can be used in government departments. Last year, we had eight startups that won hackathon work along with the tourism department for various aspects. It's a constant work and constant implementation as well. 

What has been planned for the future by the Karnataka government? 

You should admit that we have done quite a bit in the last one year. However, we continue to do everything possible to promote the technology. Since we have taken charge we have tried to stimulate and aggregate the infrastructure in the state for the emerging technology. But in near future, that is by this month end, I will have a center of excellence for cybersecurity up and running. We are also coming up with a center of excellence of agri-tech as well. Other than this, the hackathons and encouragement and promotion by the government will continue to be there. But, we are already there and way ahead as well.