India has had a seemingly complex relationship with cryptocurrencies. There have recently been rumors circulating that India plans to ban cryptocurrencies which have caused concern in some circles. However, India remains the home to one of the strongest and most passionate communities of crypto enthusiasts.
The Economic Times reported in April that a draft bill titled “Banning Cryptocurrencies and Regulation of Official Digital Currencies Bill 2019” was being discussed between several ministers from a number of government divisions. More recent updates report the bill proposes that any individuals that “mine, generate, hold, sell, transfer, dispose, issue, or deal in cryptocurrencies directly or indirectly” could face up to 10 years of jail time. While it hasn’t been written into law, the bill has reportedly gained support from different sectors of the Indian government.
As a result, panic surfaced within the cryptospace amid flashbacks to the many attempts made by China to ban cryptocurrencies. Given the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies, countries are simply unable to control or stop the use of cryptocurrencies in any meaningful way. The most a country can do is to deem crypto-activity punishable by law, which is of course not conducive to public adoption.
Sathvik Vishwanath told CoinTelegraph explains how the Indian Government operates regarding new technology:
India is a conservative country. In the past it has only taken the stance of encouraging a technology after it being able to fully regulate. India also has the history of taking knee-jerk reaction when they’re not capable of understanding the pros and cons at hand. We hope crypto industry don’t become prey.
In the draft bill, India proposes the introduction of their own national digital currency, the “Digital Rupee” which would be their stepping stone into crypto adoption. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), however, has denied any involvement in or knowledge of the proposed crypto ban. This inconsistency in reports has caused much confusion regarding India’s current official stance on cryptocurrencies.
While rumors and speculation have been circulating the space, India recently announced that they’re now offering a government-backed program that offers a crypto and blockchain course. The 12-week interactive course is free to enroll and covers topics including Bitcoin basics, distributed consensus, as well as more advanced coursework focused on code and computer science concepts. Students will be given the option of registering to partake in the proctored exam in order to obtain certification of their completion of the program.
So far, a total of 35,481 students have enrolled in a similar course in the last year through the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) website, a project funded by the same ministry. More than 1,000 specialized faculty and teachers across India have participated in preparing these courses.
India is seemingly very much divided on its stance towards cryptocurrencies. The country is home to some of the most promising thought leaders of the blockchain space, such as Ethereum scaling pioneers Matic. On the other hand, the Indian government is still clearly concerned with how crypto can be regulated.
India has recently attended the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Japan, where digital asset regulation was a primary discussion point. India, alongside the remaining G20 countries, has reaffirmed that they will be following the framework established by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which will offer some guidance on digital asset oversight later this month.
While the apparent divide in India doesn’t paint a clear picture of the official sentiment regarding cryptocurrencies at the moment, plans for the government-backed cryptocurrency and blockchain course along with the G20 statement of standardized regulation could be promising for the future of cryptocurrencies in India.
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