The third-gen web is about public good


    In News

    • The 2021 report by the U.S.- India Strategic Partnership Forum states that the third-gen web will be crucial for India to realise its $1.1 trillion digital asset opportunity by 2032

    India’s Digital Infrastructure

    • About
      • India is in an evolving process of building a large citizen-scale digital public infrastructure
        • Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) refers to solutions and systems that enable the effective provision of essential society-wide functions and services in the public and private sectors.
    • Indian Initiatives: 
      • The Government of India and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have been promoting simplification and transparency to increase the speed of interaction between individuals, markets, and the government. 
      • With the commencement of the Digital India mission in 2015, our payments, provident fund, passports, driving licences, crossing tolls, and checking land records all have been transformed with modular applications built on Aadhaar, UPI, and the India Stack.

    More about ‘third-gen web’

    • How does the third-gen web work?
      • The third generation allows web applications to connect with each other to personalise each person’s browsing experience. 
      • The development of technologies such as Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain is driving this evolution of the web, and is really shaping what it is. 
      • Through the use and application of data storage and analysis, and especially machine learning, a unique profile of each user can be created to improve the browsing experience. 
    • Significance:
      • Web3 is autonomous and reliable, as the data will no longer depend on these large companies or institutions, but on each individual. 
      • Web3 seeks to radically transform the manner in which data is generated, monetised, shared and circulated
      • Further, it advocates decentralised data storage systems with the objective of unshackling the oligopolistic grip of technology behemoths over data. 
    • Non-custodial wallets/digital passports:
      • Web3’s boldest element is the strategic role it assigns to non- custodial wallets that function as digital passports for users to access blockchain-enabled transaction platforms. 
      • These wallets aid the creation of an ‘ownership economy,’ whereby creators themselves control their content. 
      • Fundamentally, they work as the digital proof of identity.
    • Decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs):
      • Web3 seeks to replace micro-economic organisations with decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs). 
    • Role of digital tokens and cryptocurrencies:
      • At a more macro level, it seeks to create a distributed economic system, where special classes of native digital tokens and cryptocurrencies would form the media of monetary circulation
      • In general, Web3 platforms would serve to raise the efficiency of peer-to-peer transactions.

    How can India benefit?

    • Handicraft industry:
      • India’s handicraft industry is renowned for design-related innovations, many of which are not protected by Intellectual Property rights
      • The digital tokens minted by Web 3 platforms would enable our handcraft enterprises to secure their innovations. 
    • Dissemination of grassroots innovations:
      • Web 3-based instruction tools enable the rapid dissemination of grassroots innovations from master artisans to fellow members, which would improve the economic fortunes of craftsmen and artisan communities in north-east, western and peninsular India.
    • Digital public infrastructure:
      • India’s major digital public infrastructure push and the large-scale deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) in rural development projects offer major possibilities for deploying Web 3 in rural areas. 
    • Management of community data:
      • One of the understated facts of India’s transformation story in recent times has been the rapid rise of community data. 
      • The Atal Bhujal Yojana is an important source of data on groundwater utilisation practices and aquifer contamination, although this resource remains largely untapped for want of data analytics capabilities at the community level. 
        • This limitation can be overcome by Web3’s decentralised analytics systems. 

    Challenges & suggestions 

    • From a policy perspective, the next-gen web is complex.
      • Part of the problem lies with the diverse descriptors employed by experts.
    • Another constraint today is the inability of data analytics capabilities to catch up with the pace of data generation in rural areas
      • India has a rapidly expanding pool of data analytics and web design talent. 
      • By providing incentives for decentralised analytics and tokenising them (as envisaged in Web 3), it is possible to draw upon the talent pool for the benefit of rural communities.

    Way ahead

    • India is in an evolving process of building a large citizen-scale digital public infrastructure.
    • Country’s National Blockchain Strategy 2021 proposes to explore tokenisation and apply blockchains solutions for development programmes. 
      • It will be a natural progression for India to craft a third-gen web strategy that optimises public interest.

    Blockchain technology

    • A blockchain is a database that stores encrypted blocks of data then chains them together to form a chronological single-source of truth for the data.
    • Digital assets are distributed instead of copied or transferred, creating an immutable record of an asset
    • The asset is decentralized, allowing full real-time access and transparency to the public
    • A transparent ledger of changes preserves integrity of the document, which creates trust in the asset.
    • Blockchain’s inherent security measures and public ledger make it a prime technology for almost every single sector.

    Blockchain-based digital governance

    • A blockchain-based digital government can better protect data, streamline processes, and reduce fraud, waste, and abuse while simultaneously increasing trust and accountability
    • On a blockchain-based government model, individuals, businesses, and governments share resources over a distributed ledger secured using cryptography. 
    • This structure eliminates a single point of failure and inherently protects sensitive citizen and government data.
    • Advantages:
      • A blockchain-based government has the potential to solve legacy pain points and enable the following advantages:
        • Secure storage of government, citizen, and business data
        • Reduction of labour-intensive processes 
        • Reduction of excessive costs associated with managing accountability
        • Reduced potential for corruption and abuse
        • Increased trust in government and online civil systems
      • Central banking:
        • Real-time gross settlement is the continuous process of settling interbank payments in central bank records as opposed to settlement at the end of each day. 
        • Blockchain enables a significant increase in transaction volume and network resilience which enables central banks to process RTGS at a faster pace, with heightened security.


    Daily Mains Question

    [Q] The third-gen web will be crucial for India to realise its $1.1 trillion digital asset opportunity by 2032. Examine.