The caste system is the black dot of India, not just figuratively but also literally. Privileges are snatched from and gifted to Indians solely based on their caste and color. These differences might occur discretely in urban towns and cities but are commonly seen in rural parts of the country.
The “lower caste” [Scheduled Castes, SC; and Scheduled Tribes, ST] people earn their living by cleaning toilets and catching and killing rats, among other awful jobs that humans elsewhere would never sign up for. Even though a majority of people look down on them just because they belong to the lower caste, the rich don’t express any reluctance whatsoever in snatching the already meager number of perks the SCs and STs receive in exchange for the lifelong humiliation they face at the hands of their own nation.
Recently, a similar incident took place in a small town in the state of Maharashtra, where a former elected politician had fraudulently acquired tribal land by claiming himself to be a tribal member with a fake caste certificate. It took 28-year-old Shubham Gupta, an administrative officer in Maharashtra, to file a legal complaint against him, following which the politician was convicted by the Supreme Court of India in July 2022. The politician worked within Gupta’s jurisdiction. Still, it took Gupta’s networking capabilities to ensure that the politician returned the land to the owners—the tribes.
“This is probably one of the many such incidents that happen in India on a daily basis. It is a shame but what can one do? The poor people can’t fight the rich and even when they do, the well-connected rich [upper caste] suppresses them using unfair means,” Vikram Kanwar, a veteran journalist in India, told CoinGeek.
Blockchain caste certificates
This incident prompted Gupta to create and implement blockchain caste certificates, which were assigned to nearly 65,000 tribal members in a remote region of Maharashtra in 2021. The certificates were developed on-chain, intending to curb the fraudulent claims on government benefits for the disadvantaged.
“We delivered 100 caste certificates, which were built on the blockchain through a paper representation with a verifiable QR code,” Gupta, the administrative head of the Etapalli subdivision of Gadchiroli in Maharashtra, stated.
Of nearly 250,000 people in the state, approximately 200,000 are tribal members. The first phase of the project delivered caste certificates to 65,000 members.
“Several organizations offer food, milk, etc, but barely anybody focuses on granting them absolute equality. These people are not exposed to technology like urban crowds and don’t speak English, but they are crucial members of our country and offer more than others acknowledge,” Kanwar said.
“Gupta offered them that sense of missing equity and equality,” Kanwar said.
A three-man team led by Gupta implemented the project, Legit Doc—a private platform using blockchain to make tamper-proof digital documents commissioned through a government process, built on the Polygon protocol.
The certificates are described as “impossible to forge and easily verifiable.” The tribal population does not understand blockchain technology today, but Gupta emphasized that the children of the tribe might learn about blockchain and do something in the future.
Sad state of affairs
Irrespective of the laws like the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989, social discrimination and humiliation towards the underprivileged [lower castes] continue to persist. Over 40% of 1.4 billion Indians belong to lower castes, of which 9% are tribal members.
If we look at India, we see a technologically advanced nation that also struggles with poverty and a massive divide between the rich and the poor.
Dr. Craig Wright’s words while visiting Bogota, Columbia, in 2019 fit right in here: “Bitcoin has many advantages to offer; chief among them is freedom—from middlemen or even corrupt governments.”
“Latin America is ripe for growth,” he stated, pointing out that developing regions like India and Latin America have “a better opportunity to catch up and have faster growth than North America” by using Bitcoin [SV], which will enable them “to have information.”
Watch: Dr. Craig Wright talks Bitcoin and IPv6 at IIT-Kanpur in India
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