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Decoding Modern Tech Terms

This is the era of path-breaking innovation, invention, and products showcasing the use of technology. These products startle us with their capabilities and possibilities. While Artificial intelligence, Quantum Computing, Cloud Computing and Blockchain were making a mark till recently, NFTs and Metaverse are added to the list of these buzzwords. With the new-age technology, we are in a world of infinite possibilities A metaverse of myriad avenues is waiting t0 be explored to its full potential. Let us understand the scope and opportunities of some of these interesting technologies and disruptors.


Blockchain refers to a system whereby information about transactions is stored on countless computers spread across the globe. It is considered as an alternative to the conventional banking system. Notice what happens when you transfer money to someone through your bank account or apps like Paytm. That money is deducted from the amount kept in your account in that bank, and the same money is added to the account of the other person in another bank. Both the banks use a ledger that keeps the details of the money transactions between you two. Along with banks, this also applies to mobile payment systems. The role o f the bank in this process is to save money and keep details of the transactions. The bank certifies how much money is in your account and to whom you have given or taken the money from. What if the same thing is done without the bank? This is the vision behind Blockchain. Under this, transactions of a similar kind are recorded on computers worldwide, and this system has nothing to do with the banks. The information stored under the Blockchain is even more secure than our banking system because countless copies of that information are kept on computers around the world. No one can hack so many computers. The cryptocurrency, which is much talked about nowadays, has its transactions done through this blockchain system.


The success of blockchain as an independent means of storing and authenticating information has created many more innovations. One of these is the NonFungible Token, or NFT. Here, the information is stored in the blockchain system itself, especially in a system called ethereum. We know about cryptocurrencies and know that if we have purchased cryptocurrencies, its account will be kept in the blockchain. But let’s say you have not bought crypto currency, but an expensive original painting, something of historical importance, or memorabilia (such as a special attire worn by a celebrity). It is something which is unique in the entire world. How can you prove you are the owner of that item and it is the real thing and not a fake copy of it? Presently, there is no provision for this except that the organisation from where you have bought it can give you a certificate of ownership or get it stamped as an original by giving an affidavit in court. Imagine what it would be like if a technology platform could store and authenticate information about such unique things. This platform is NFT. Under a Non-Fungible Token system, a kind of digital certificate is issued that such an original thing, unique in the world, is owned by you. This digital certificate cannot be tampered with. NFTs can be associated with physical assets and virtual or digital assets. Some time ago, you may have read the news that Jack Dorsey, Founder of Twitter, sold the first tweet he ever posted through NFT for USD 2.9 million. You may ask- how can one sell a post made on a digital platform? Anyone can copy it, take its screenshot or create a similar post. And how to prove that it is the same original note as it has not been kept as a printout? So the NFT proves that Jack Dorsey has sold this comment and is now owned by the CEO of a Malaysian cryptocurrency company. The price is for the information and certificate only. Now, no one else can sell it except its new owner. Even though millions of people retweeted the original tweet, anyone can copy it, but the post owned by that person will be considered original. The rest of the millions of tweets around the world will be considered copies. This digital certificate is not in the form of writing but in the form of a digital image, video, etc. The same is called Non-Fungible Token (NFT). Non fungible means that it is the only one in the world, i.e. unique. This digital asset has been created so that it cannot be copied, and therefore it is safe. There is an immense need for such NFTs (images, videos, animations, illustrations, etc.) in the form of certifications associated with such digital assets. Hence, technically proficient people are engaged in the manufacturing and trading of NFTs.

Digital Disruptor

Digitisation, in this age, has to be the common link in all the sectors of any successful economy; as well as in all the aspects of a progressive society. The indispensability of going digital in any recent or future technological endeavour cannot be emphasised enough. In India, Aadhaar has played and continues to play an integral role in providing a unified national digital identity framework. The strength of this foundational infrastructure is now being increasingly felt in almost every sphere of life of residents of the country. Regardless of the sector or vertical, new-age technologies are gradually ushering in the transformation of organisations and economies. The economic and financial landscapes are being revolutionised by rapid breakthroughs in technology, which more often than not, are disruptive with immense long-term potential to benefit society at large. Some of the broad domain areas which are witnessing a lot of churning with respect to the introduction of technologies that have potentially far-reaching positive impact, especially on developing countries like ours, are as follows:
• Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML): AI technologies provide a plethora of opportunities to complement human intelligence and combat socio-economic issues.
• Quantum Computing: Applications in secure communication, disaster management through better prediction, computing, simulation, chemistry, healthcare, cryptography, imaging, etc.
• Semiconductor Technologies including Semiconductor Nanotechnology: Aim to give a major push to the hardware industry by eliminating boundaries between the digital and physical worlds.
• Smart Manufacturing: Use of Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, Big data Analytics, AI and Robotics as a part of Industry 4.0, more commercial use of additive manufacturing (i.e. 3D printing).
• Smart Mobility: Use of IoT and AL/ML in new-age transportation and logistics solutions, autonomous and remotely piloted vehicles, vehicles powered by renewable and clean fuels.
• Advanced Communication Technologies and its Security: Adoption of 5G, Cloud computing, penetration of broadband internet to remotest and least developed areas using satellite-based internet, optical fibre, etc., for use-cases such as Tele-health, remote learning and much more. Advancements in cyber security and the hardening of communication systems are also expected to stay apace with the communication and networked technologies. This includes building more secure cryptography solutions as well as the use of Homomorphic encryption technologies (computations performed on encryptic data).
• Space Technologies: A plethora of futuristic technologies like SatelliteBased Quantum Communication, Quantum Radar, Self-EatingRocket, Self-Vanishing-Satellite, Self-Healing Materials, Humanoid Robotics, Space-Based-Solar Power, Intelligent Satellites and Space- vehicles, Make-inSpace concept, Al-based space applications, etc.
• Blockchain-based technologies: Development of solutions in areas such as Decentralised Financing (DeFi), sovereign digital currencies, and the possible creation of sovereign identities.
• Biotechnology: This includes advancements in areas such as Synthetic DNA, Development of Vaccines, 4D printing and Tissue Engineering, Gene Editing, Gene Sequencing, Quantum Microscope, Biosensors, etc.
• Agri-food Technologies: Sustainable and remunerative Agriculture (and its allied sectors) is the key to the food security of societies. Technologies related to climate-resilient farming, development of high-yielding seed varieties, resource-conscious and frugal irrigation, seeding, harvesting, and post-harvest technologies will define the future of agriculture, especially for developing countries that have large percentages of their population dependent on it.
• Climate & Environmental Conservation: Focus on green and sustainable technologies, renewable energy such as solar, Green Hydrogen, etc. It is expected that a lot of these areas and technologies shall have synergy as well as interdependencies among them, so as to ensure a holistic technology framework. This shall possibly require close collaboration among sectors and industries and lead to an impact that is universally felt by all sections of anxiety. In this context, it is also importance to acknowledge the role and enters of the digital character of these technologies in their successful deployment and acceptance. Digitization, in this age, has to be the common link in all the sectors of any successful economy as well as in all the aspects of a progressive society. The indispensability of going digital in any recent or future technological endeavour cannot be emphasised enough. In India, Aadhaar has played and continues to play an integral role in providing a unified national digital identity framework. Aadhaar has become one of the most important pieces of public digital infrastructure ever to be built in the country. The strength of this foundational infrastructure is now being increasingly felt in almost every sphere of life of residents of the country. Aadhaar is the world’s largest Digital Identity Platform, which was planned and rolled out with a clear set of developmental objectives. The astounding success of Aadhaar and its Digital Identity Platform with billions of authentication transactions already being performed on it has proved its reliability, robustness, and security to the entire international community. It is the most trusted ID held by almost one-sixth of I the population of the world residing in India and is the foundation of India’s digital democracy. It has reached the saturation point covering a large number of the population. Around 99.9% of the adult population of India is already enroled with it. Approximately 1.33 billion Aadhaar cards have been generated till date and over 600 million updates have been done by the residents. Over 70 billion Aadhaar authentications have been done till date. Aadhaar was conceived as an online identity platform that used technology to deliver on tis promises: 1. Uniqueness – ensuring one person one ID
2. Online verification and KYC to enable digital transactions
3. Not requiring expensive credentials – such as smartcards, etc. The above powerful features of the ID system delivered at a billion population scale encouraged plethora of useful applications through high assurance authentication and KYC facility, bringing speed and convenience to various transactions at a small fraction of the earlier cost. All this was possible due to the smart use of cutting-edge technology, be it multimodal biometrics, distributed computing, BI/Analytics, mobile apps, etc. This technology is for the ‘Digital Inclusion’ and India has always been advocating that a digital economy is an important tool for social inclusion for future cooperation towards digital inclusion and social empowerment Aadhaar and UIDAI have always been at the forefront of developing and/or using state-of-art technologies so as to ensure that they are successfully meeting their mandate of providing reliable, secure, resident and industry-friendly identity solutions and services. In this context, some of the technologies that have been adopted or are in the process of being adopted at UIDAI include the following:
• Unified my-Aadhaar portal for a one-stop experience for users for all Aadhaar services in regional languages;
• Multiple services on mAadhaar mobile application;
• Use of secure QR code and offline e-KYC for offline verification of Aadhaar;
• Introduction of Virtual ID, Aadhaar Lock, Biometric Lock for securely using Aadhaar for various services;
• Integration with Digilocker for consent-based fetching of resident documents as well as for address update on other identity documents based on address on Aadhaar;
• Extensive use of AI/ML for ‘liveness check’ of residents’ biometrics and for document validation;
• State-of-the-art UIDAI’s own Private Cloud Infrastructure;
• Indigenous development of Automatic Biometric Identification System (ABIS) to reduce dependencies on proprietary solutions;
• Integration with ISRO for location-based resident services;
• Inspection Portal for automating inspection of Aadhaar Centres by UIDAI;
• Research is underway in newer technologies like Blockchain-based Identity solutions, IoT, Confidential Computing, Al-based Fraud Analytics, quantumresilient cryptographic solutions, etc.

Technology Innovation in Authentication

The core strength of Aadhaar is its ability to be authenticated anytime and from anywhere. This completely digital and portable nature of Aadhaar makes it a ready candidate for an enormous number of applications and use-cases, for example, Aadhaar-authentication based digital payments such as those in the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) and last-mile branchless banking, social welfare benefit/service delivery such as PDS, etc. Some of the innovations that Aadhaar has been able to bring to its Authentication landscape are as follows:
• Face Authentication: This is a recently-launched indigenous smartphone-based solution for Aadhaar Authentication using the ‘Face’ modality. It is contactless and has a ‘liveness check’ built into it. This makes it more secure and reliable. It extensively employs AI/ML for ensuring the ‘liveness’ of the modality captured as part of authentication.
• Iris-based Aadhaar Authentication: This has been in place for a long time and is being vigorously promoted now due to its inherent strengths which came to the fore, especially during Covid-19. Just as face-modality, it is contactless and more secure, and also more reliable than a fingerprint-based authentication, especially for people with worn-out fingerprints.
• Fingerprint Image Record (based) authentication: Fingerprint Image Record is being launched for ensuring the ‘liveness’ of the fingerprints captured and to check cases of possible frauds via fingerprint cloning, etc.
• More secure registered devices for enrolment and authentication: For added security, the new devices shall have encryption of Identity Information captured at the device chip hardware level.

Security of UIDAI Infrastructure

UIDAI has conjured up state-ofthe-art techniques and technological advancements in Information Security and conceptualised models and frameworks to explore some of the best ways to protect the integrity of the system from such actors and at the same time ensure its availability to legitimate users. Security of UIDAI Infrastructure UIDAI has conjured up state-ofthe-art techniques and technological advancements in Information Security and conceptualised models and frameworks to explore some of the best ways to protect the integrity of the system from such actors and at the same time ensure its availability to legitimate users. UIDAI also ensures continued adherence and compliance to the best practices in security by Aadhaar ecosystem partners through regular security audits of the partner infrastructure and processes Digital Technology is meant to be used by die government and the public sector to a) Ensure transparency and accountability of governance, and b) Meet the increased demand for digital services among citizens, to provide more simplified and high-quality services. UIDAI has always been steadfastly aligned to this core objective. It has always remained abreast with the latest advancements in technologies that have a bearing in die Indian context and specifically in die context of providing digital-identity-led services to its people. Towards this, UIDAI plans to keep breaking newer grounds in its digital journey by making die right partnerships with industry, academia, and the residents who form die centre of its existence.

Capacity Building Commission

The capacity of Civil Services plays a vital role in rendering a wide variety of services, implementing welfare programmes, and performing core governance functions. A transformational change in Civil Service Capacity is proposed to be affected by organically linking the transformation of work culture, strengthening public institutions, and adopting modem technology to build civil service capacity with the overall aim of ensuring efficient delivery of services to citizens. Mission Karmayogi aims to prepare the Indian Civil Servants for the future by making them more creative, constructive, imaginative, innovative, proactive, professional, progressive, energetic, enabling, transparent, and technology-enabled. Empowered with specific role competencies, the civil servant will be able to ensure efficient service delivery o f the highest quality standards. Under the Mission, the Capacity Building Commission was constituted through the 'Gazette of India on 1 April 2021. As the custodian of the civil services capacity building ecosystem, the commission is mandated to perform the following functions:
1. Facilitate preparation of Annual Capacity Building Plans of departments, ministries, and agencies.
2. Make Policy recommendations to DoPT on personnel / HR and Capacity Building.
3. Evolve a harmonious de-siloed approach to improve ; civil service capacity.
4. Analyse learning competency-related data from iGOT-Karmayogi, an online training platform.
5. Drive standardisation, harmonisation, and shared understanding of Capacity Building activities.
6. Create shared learning resources, including internal and external faculty and resource centers.
7. Exercise functional supervision over all Central Training Institutions.
8. Undertake an audit of Human Resources in the Government and outcomes of the Capacity Building efforts.
9. Approve Knowledge Partners and Content Validation mechanism for the training of civil servants.
10.Organize a global HR Summit to bring best practices of human resource management to the governance in India.

Al and Machine Learning

Industry 4.0 is set to usher an era of technologies that will completely alter the way in which we interact with the world around us. Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, loT, 5G, Augmented Reality, Big Data, Nanotechnology, Robotics, and 3D printing are transforming the operational, functional, and strategic landscape across various industries. In India, both private and public enterprises and the Central and State governments are investing in multiple Al use cases- from manufacturing to services. Most venture capital funding in India is now going to Al projects in Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance Sector (BFSI), e- commerce, healthcare, electronics and renewable energy startups. India was ranked 8th in the top 10 countries by Al patent families1, ahead of Russia and France, with Al-related patent applications growing tenfold from 2012 to 2018. A report titled ‘Al Enabled SaaS: The Next Frontier for Global SaaS Start-ups from India’ highlighted that Al could generate over 9,00,000 white-collar jobs and 3.6 million indirect jobs by 2030. Additionally, India has over 1,300 Global Capability Centres (GCCs), with one in every five GCCs using Al across key business functions such as cybersecurity, customer services, supply chain, and operations management.2 To support this thriving Al industry, India is one of the handful of countries that have developed a conceptual national framework for the use of artificial intelligence (Al) and its allied field, machine learning. The Government expenditure on Al and Machine Learning has also steadily increased with expected growth at a CAGR of 39 per cent over the period 2019-2025 to reach USD 11,781.9 million in 20253. As per the government’s think tank NITI Aayog, by 2035, Al has the potential to add USD 1 trillion to the Indian economy. However, successful adoption of Al will require strategy, implementation, risk management, and an Al- enabled workforce. Even to promote innovations in Al, a streamlined national policy framework is necessary In this regard, by recognising AI’s potential to transform the Indian economy and the need for India to build a comprehensive strategic framework to harness it, NITI Aayog released a National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence #AIforAll in June 2018. The paper lays out the roadmap for India to leverage the coming-ofage technologies to ensure inclusive growth and social development. #AIforAll aims at enhancing and empowering human capabilities to address challenges of access, affordability, and efficiency in endeavouring to scale Madein- India artificial intelligence solutions for the benefit of the developing and emerging economies. Here, solve for India’ means to ‘solve for 40 per cent of the world.’ In doing so, the paper identifies five priority sectors that are envisioned to gain the most incremental value from the adoption of these transformative technologies in solving societal needs: a) healthcareincreasing access to quality and affordable healthcare, b) agricultureenhancing crop yield, ensuring food security, and increasing farmers’ incomes, c) education- enhancing the quality of education and human resource productivity, d) smart cities and infrastructure- ensuring efficient connectivity and promoting intelligent urban planning, and e) smart mobility and transportation- enabling efficient and safe transportation. The National Strategy aims to support and enable India’s AI ecosystem through grants, product and solution development, collaboration with the industry, and mentorship support to startups. Since the release of this report, NITI Aayog has launched several initiatives such as the Atal Innovation Mission, Empowered Group-6, RAISE 2020 summit, etc. The flagship AI initiative of NITI Aayog has been the Responsible AI Approach Documents published in collaboration with the World Economic Forum Centre for the next AI Industrial Revolution. The Documents seek to establish broad ethics and principles for the design, development, and deployment of AI in India. AI ecosystem in the government currently comprises capacity building and reskilling, policies, innovation centres, and projects. However, given the agile nature of the technologies, several research reports have pressed for the development and deployment of an agile regulatory and infrastructural framework to remove bottlenecks and complexities in Al-driven processes and ensure standardization of AI. Keeping this in mind, India’s AI Standardization Committee of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) released a draft framework on the India Artificial Intelligence Stack to enable an environment to exploit AI productively across all sectors and bring interoperability, among other things. The Stack is divided into six layers- five main horizontal layers and one vertical layer— each catering to a specific purpose ranging from information gathering and storage to security and governance. The Report highlights numerous benefits of the AI Stack such as secure data storage and data privacy, easy interface, protection of digital rights, open API integration trustworthiness, ethical standards' and usage of government Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). It further lays down the roadmap to increase public and private partnership in research accelerating adoption of AI, skilling the workforce, and ensuring ethics and principle for a responsible AI. It also ensures the creation of a common Data controller, including multi-cloud scenarios. One of the major advantages of this proposed AI Stack is that it will facilitate open API integration and build AI architecture from square one. Through this, the Government aims to provide a balanced ‘playground’ for institutions to accelerate research and development in AI and ensure speedy adoption of AI across the value chain. India is bringing in the use of AI in everything- from promoting digital health, and amplifying digital financial transactions to helping pensioners receive their payments with greater ease, and tracking down tigers to preserve them. In Telangana, AI is helping authenticate pensioners and ensuring that payments go to pensioners who are alive (thus, removing chances of graft) and using basic images and information to help validate recipients. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs is using AI to simplify corporate filings, while the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR) has been built as a special hub for Al-related work of the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation). AI is an area of special importance for the National Research Foundation, and it is being promoted at the school level to encourage new talent in this sphere. India sees AI and machine learning as the next transformative process to reform its economy and give it greater depth, and weed out irregularities. This process has already started with the digitisation of citizen identity and — 1— financial transactions, but the use of AI would give it a whole new dimension and depth. AI and machine learning are particularly suited for India because the country is the world’s largest generator of democratic and analysed under the democratic rule of governance. This wealth of data gives India an advantage in many fields- from healthcare to manufacturing and consumer behaviour analysis. But the real value of this vast mine of data can only be extracted using effective AI and machine learning. Therefore, the use of such technologies on Indian data would be priceless not just for decision making in India but around the world. As India has a great diversity of people and cultures, therefore its data can help determine many patterns that might be difficult in many other parts of the world. The use of AI and machine learning, along with other technologies like blockchain, would enable solutions to longstanding policy challenges in issues like land transactions and medical record keeping. India is building the world’s largest citizen pool of data from citizens which is managed transparently, and upon such ‘stacks’, applications of various kinds can be built. Each such application, in turn, ‘talks’ to one another, thus providing the citizen with a seamless experience. It is also building quantum computing capability and chip-making prowess to align and integrate these systems on the front-end and back-end. India is one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world, it has a new semiconductor programme, and its drone and robotics industries are some of the most exciting parts of its economy. AI and machine learning, and blockchain, along with other such technologies arc the analytical softwares that complement also a worldSoftware as and the the hardware. India is leading destination for a Service (SaaS) companies growing use of Al and associated technologies can only boost India’s existing tech prowess. In India, AI and machine learning are starting to be used in governance to give depth to the country's democratic processes. From education to defence, health to e-commerce, there is hardly any area where this impact isn’t starting to become rapidly visible.

NFT Explained

Artists need a platform to showcase their piece of art and to monetise it in order to earn a living, and to ensure the protection of the source, the ownership, the copyright, and its future value. With the invention of Non-Fungible Token (NFT), a technology that allows creators and artists to bypass the intermediary altogether, decentralisation allows artists and creators to gain control— not just over the financial value of their artworks but also over the ownership and copyright of the same. It all started with a set of 10,000 randomly generated pixelated images that proved the demand for digital ownership of non-physical objects and collectibles in 2017, and the market has been evolving rapidly ever since. Great artists focus their energies on one thing: creating their next masterpieces. Musicians and composers spend months in search of the perfect lyrics or melodies. Architects ensure the minutest of details in their building plans. But the artists have to find a way— a platform to showcase their piece of art and to monetise it in order to earn a living, and to ensure the protection of the source, the ownership, the copyright, and its future value. This is where the intermediaries like art galleries, music labels, concert promoters, etc., come in, where on one hand they market the skills of the artists and on the other, help them monetise their artwork for a healthy cut of profits— sometimes even ownership of the artist's work. Over a period of time, the intermediaries have become powerful, wealth}*, and yet not very successful in protecting the provenance and panstacking of the artworks that were the result of painstaking work of the artists. With the invention of NFT, a technology’ that allows creators and artists to bypass the intermediary altogether, decentralisation has taken place and has allowed artists and creators to gain control— not just over the financial value of their artworks but also over the ownership and copyright of the same. As the NFTs are dealt with in cryptocurrency jargons, scaring off non-techies, they are not understood properly and still not talked about or considered mainstream, due to, first, the fear of the unknown— popular publications’ inability to accept an ever-evolving technology as an important one, lack of knowledge thereof, mainly due to the jargons associated with the technology, second, the fear of failure— as the NFTs are based on the decentralised cryptocurrencies where the control does not remain with any financial institution constituted by Government but is purely driven by market forces and volition of the ‘people’ (or computers connected in a Blockchain Network) and the last bubble burst of Bitcoin witnessed in the years 2017-18, the scepticism prevails in accepting any technology or platform dealing entirely in cryptocurrencies.

What is an NFT?

At a first glance, NFT does sound complex and difficult to comprehend, but it is relatively simple. The NFT stands for Non Fungible Token, and to understand it better, let us quickly break down these words. First of all, Token: Here, Token can be anything— a piece of art, a musical melody, a video, a game, or even a physical object. There are many things which can be and have been converted into Tokens, e.g. Concert Tickets. These tokens are mostly PNG images, animated images (GIF), MP4 Audio tracks, or videos. So a question naturally arises is, how is an image on the internet different from an NFT? And the answer is that, an image becomes an NFT when it is stored on an online network of computers called Blockchain, and a unique serial number is assigned each time a Token is placed on the Blockchain Network. Each NFT has its unique serial number and that also makes the Token Non-Fungible. The next word, Fungible means that in simple language, if an object can be replaced by another object, it is called Fungible. E.g. one Rs 500 note can be replaced by another Rs 500 note. Its value is not going to change even after the replacement. Therefore, it is a Fungible object. On the other hand, something having a value of personalised or unique nature that cannot be replaced by another object makes it a Non-Fungible object. Imagine your cellphone having scratches on the front screen, when sold online will be unique and will have a completely different value than any other cellphone of the same model being sold by another person. A celebrity’s laptop will probably have more worth than someone else’s, even if it’s the same model and brand. Similarly, one NFT cannot be replaced by another NFT, because even if it is the same image, each copy of this image has its unique serial number and therefore, has its own value, making it unique. Combining these words, a Non-Fungible Token can therefore be described as an object having a unique serial number, stored on the Blockchain Network.

Why choose NFTs?

The question that naturally arises is, why buy/sell NFT when you already have these objects like image artworks, music tracks, MP4 videos existing on the internet and/or with the intermediaries like art galleries, music labels, streaming platforms? To answer this: All artists and creators can now easily display and monetise their work. Artists can sell their work directly as an NFT to a consumer and make a profit, this leads to less dependence on traditional art galleries and auctions. Royalties can be included, which means that each time their NFT is sold, the artist can receive a certain percentage of the price at which the consumer decides to resell it. Royalties are paid to the original artist each time the NFT moves from consumer to consumer. If their art were sold in the traditional way, the revenue from secondary sales would not occur, making NFTs particularly beneficial to creators. NFTs ensure ownership of a digital object, thanks to the Blockchain. There are more benefits of NFTs. To name a few important ones: Firstly, each NFT is unique, the only one of its kind. It is impossible to create another NFT with the same serial number. Everything is verified by the blockchain and can be seen by everyone. Not only that, but the owner of that Token on the Blockchain will have full commercial copyright to use that image and asset. Secondly, because they are unique and cannot be copied, they are scarce. Most of the time, there are very few NFTs from an artist or seller. Therefore, you can safely assume that you will be one of the few people in the world to own a collectible that can then be resold Thirdly, no one can change the metadata of the token, no one can delete your image or the name of the token. This means that it will never change, it will never be deleted, it cannot be removed from the blockchain, hence making it immutable. Apart from these benefits, NFTs are collectible downloadable, permeant, and resalable. In short, NFTs certainly have more value than one would assume at first glance.

How do NFTs Work?

These NFTs are bought and sold using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, Dogecoin, Apecoin, Binance coin, WRX, etc. The first digital cryptocurrency that tops the list is certainly Bitcoin. The second most popular cryptocurrency is Ethereum and it has its own Blockchain Network, enabling the NFT sale and purchase. Opensea is the first, largest, and internationally popular platform for selling crypto goods including NFTs. In India, WazirX is a popular cryptocurrency exchange which also has its own cryptocurrency called WRX. But one might ask if NFT itself is a unique token, why is there a requirement of cryptocurrency for buying an NFT? Isn’t NFT one kind of cryptocurrency? The answer is No, and here’s why. Cryptocurrencies are fungible. One Bitcoin can be replaced by another Bitcoin and the value will be the same. Just the way one Rs 500 can be replaced by another Rs 500 note. On the other hand, each NFT is different from another NFT because it is unique, having a unique serial number on the Blockchain Network. Therefore, each NFT is one of a kind and can have a completely different value.

NFTs and its Categories

The most popular category in the present day is the category of visual art as NFTs: The community of creators, developers, artists, and merchants have started pushing their art into the new territory of NFTs. As discussed earlier, each NFT has a unique serial number as an identifier and this allows the visual art to be recognisable in its uniqueness, cannot be copied, and therefore, the creators have control over their artworks saving them from plagiarism. It all started with CryptoPunks, a set of 10,000 randomly generated pixelated images that proved the demand for digital ownership of non-physical objects and collectibles in 2017, and the market has been evolving rapidly ever since. Music as a category of NFTs is steadily evolving. Many artists are taking advantage of the NFT opportunity by offering their audiences limited edition unreleased tracks. The benefit of offering Music as NFTs is that the intermediaries like Music Label companies have been removed from the equation, offering the chance for the artist to sell their products directly to the audience, while getting closer to their community. NFTs are becoming increasingly - popular in the Domain Name business also Artists can sell their work directly as an NFT to a consumer and make a profit, this leads to less dependence on traditional art galleries and Crypto domains are Blockchain addresses that allow, among other things, to receive payments in cryptocurrencies. It is similar to the late 1990s’ ‘.com’ web craze. Buyers have started purchasing Blockchain Domain names which are being sold as NFTs which typically end with ‘.eth’ or ‘.crypto’. Blockchain developers, speculators, and NFT traders have already purchased Blockchain Domain names of important global brands. It remains to be seen how much such brands are willing to pay to buy back their domain name. Another popular category of NFTs is Metaverse. It is a virtual world powered by the Blockchain where users can create and trade digital assets, play games, buy plots of land, display art in galleries, etc. Metaverse has as many utilities as far as the imagination can reach. Recently, Facebook has renamed the company name to ‘Meta’ to affirm its ambitions to become a major player in this category by presenting its Metaverse project. Popular singer Daler Mehndi made headlines when he bought land in the metaverse and named it ‘Balle Balle Land’. When all categories of entertainment and utility are entering into NFT space, Sports cannot be left behind. Sports brands have some of the most valuable intellectual property in the world. Sports teams and related companies have made headway into the NFT world and have started selling items to their millions of fans. The Lille Football Club has released an NFT collection that represents their four French Championship titles. On the NBA Top Shot platform, video excerpts of basketball games, although accessible to all on YouTube, are traded at a premium. The secret is that they are sold with a certificate of authenticity, thanks to NFTs. A similar category to Sports is the Events, as with the adoption of NFTs in the Event industry like Concerts, Cinema, Theatre, museums, etc., it is only a logical step that the tickets to access stadiums would be sold via NFTs in the near future Collectibles can be described as yet another category of NFTs. Some of the popular examples include the Bored Ape Yacht Club, Cool Cats and CryptoPunks collections. Recently, the Prime Minister of India gave away Blockchain-based digital degrees at IIT, Kanpur. They are nothing but NFTs, which are unique and hence, unforgeable. Building a Community around NFTs is yet another category. Tourismrelated brands like Zostel have launched their NFTs in order to have a close community of travellers and backpackers being provided exclusive benefits upon purchase of their NFTs. One might ask that all the benefits and features of NFTs are fine and NFTs might benefit artists and creators, but how does it affect a layman in day-to-day life? To elaborate on this, let’s go back to the times when Twitter was put in the public domain. Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted the first tweet on the microblogging platform in 2006, a short text that said “just setting up my twttr.” While the tweet will continue to exist on Twitter, it has been sold as an NFT to Sina Estavi, CEO of Bridge Oracle, for USD 2.9 million. Estavi would get the NFT as “signed and verified by the creator.” The USD 2.9 million raised was then donated to charity which specialises in providing financial resources to the poor and its Covid relief programmes in Africa. To sum it up, people have always been collecting different objects in various formats, from World War weapons to sneakers to 1st generation iPhones. So, it should come as no surprise that there is a market for collectibles in digital form. Not only that, this digital form not only provides and ensures uniqueness, authenticity, and immutability, but it also benefits the creators (the seller) and the collectors (the buyers) in numerous ways.

Way Forward

While the benefits of using NFTs are ample and the real-life use-cases are on the rise day by day, understanding the jargons around this technology would only benefit one to adapt to the remarkable shift that is taking place all over the world in terms of how existing currency and financial systems are looked at, how art is perceived and how parallel universes are being set up where people buy and sell pieces of land. However, if we have to talk about its future, the beauty of the NFTs is that their future isn’t chiseled in stone. Nobody knows what will become the most prominent use of NFTs. The risk-takers are writing the future of NFTs— trying radical applications and taking NFTs to places we hadn’t thought of. But one can safely say that the sky is the only limit for NFTs, or the sky exists in the Metaverse. The NFT-fication of everything will take place in the years to come and anyone can participate. The future of NFTs is being written as we speak.

Accessible Healthcare to All

Conceived with the idea of making quality healthcare accessible to the most deprived and vulnerable sections of India’s population, Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya yojana (AB PM-JAY) is a bold and transformative resolve to change the healthcare paradigm of India. The Scheme promises its beneficiaries an equitable and affordable access to quality healthcare services without the need to worry about the financial implications arising out of it. The idea was not a new one. However, what is different this time is that the Scheme rests upon evidence based policy making, agile scheme implementation and harnesses technology to drive innovation in healthcare service delivery. Ayushmun Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana enshrines to accelerate India's march toward achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as listed in The National Health Policy (NHP) of 2017. AB PM-JAY is not India's first tryst with healthcare insurance. One credit must be given to predecessor schemes such as Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), States schemes like Aarogyasri in Andhra Pradesh, Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayee Arogya Yojana (RGJAY) in Maharashtra. However, in terms of scope and scale, AB PM-JAY simply dwarfed all existing healthcare insurance interventions. It is for the first time that we now have a health insurance scheme with a pan-India presence being implemented almost everywhere in the country. As of 1 April 2022, Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY in alliance with State health schemes covers a beneficiary base of more than 14 crore families (70 crore individuals). Almost 18 crore individuals have been identified under the Scheme and been provided with an Ayushman card. AB PM-JAY has facilitated almost 3.2S crore hospitalisations, providing treatment worth over Rs 37,600 crores. All this has been achieved in a little over 3.5 years and amidst the greatest global pandemic in recent times. As 1 reflect on the trajectory of Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY. the Scheme's success is mounted on the vision of the Prime Minister of India and the versatile policy framework conceptualised by the Cabinet. This policy framework crystallised the guiding principles behind Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY which tire as follows:

Comprehensive Healthcare Benefits

AB PM-JAY was launched with 1,393 treatment packages covering treatment for various medical specialties like oncology, neurosurgery, cardiovascular surgery, etc., upto Rs 5 Lakhs per beneficiary family. Over multiple package revisions, this was subsequently increased to 1,670 treatment packages. The benefits package under AB PM-JAY was comprehensive, covering pro and post hospitalisation expenses. Additionally, all pre-existing conditions were covered from the first day of the policy period. This ensured that beneficiaries could avail treatment under AB PM-JAY without worrying about co-payments or exclusions. The health benefits package was also made portable across the country, empowering beneficiaries from the remotest villages in India to seek treatment at the most advanced healthcare facilities in cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Bengaluru.

Convergence & Integration

AB PM-JAY was never about reinventing the wheel. It was about learning from past experiences and making welladjusted changes to the current scheme construct. One of the key insights that emerged from stakeholder consultations was about forging stronger partnerships with the States. Accordingly, under AB PM-JAY, considerable flexibility was provided to the States and Union Territories in choosing their mode of implementation, beneficiary database, and creating the network of hospitals. Further, National Health Authority (NHA) diligently pursued convergence with the existing State-based schemes. Currently, AB PM-JAY is implemented in alliance with more than 25 State-specific health schemes. This has ensured that the Scheme is operationalised in a manner best suited to the local context. State Governments were encouraged to set up State Health Agencies (SHAs) for better oversight of the Scheme at the State level. Additionally, District Implementation Units (DIUs) were set up in over 600 districts across the country. This ensured that the administrative reach of AB PM-JAY extended to the beneficiary’s doorstep.

Ensuring Equity in Access to Healthcare Services

Under AB PM-JAY, the renewed impetus has been given to extending the Scheme benefits to the marginalised sections of society covered under the Socio-Economic Caste Census database. Likewise, the Scheme has adopted an enlightened approach towards ensuring gender-specific equity. The erstwhile RSBY Scheme had mandated a limit of adding up to 5 family members. Unfortunately, this led to the exclusion of female members of the household, especially the girl child. However, under AB PM-JAY, this capping was done away with. It’s a matter of great pride for me to say that gender parity has been achieved under AB PM-JAY. Women account for approximately 50% of Ayushman cards generated using the NHA IT platform and 47% of authorised hospital admissions.

Robust, Scalable, and Inter-operable Technology Platforms

One of the problems that afflicted in the past was fragmented IT systems for the schemes like AB PMJAY. This led to a lack of visibility into the last-mile implementation of the Scheme and created fertile ground for irregularities and fraud. Therefore, under AB PM-JAY, a highly versatile technology platform was developed to aid in beneficiary identification, transaction management, and hospital empanelment. This award-winning IT platform is now active across 26 States and UTs. As a result, SHAs and NHA have gained granular insights into the Scheme to aid in evidence-based policymaking and necessary course correction, where required. Furthermore, NHA also leveraged technology to institute robust anti-fraud protocols. A National Anti-Fraud Unit (NAFU) was set up with institutional support from the multi-lateral development community. This enabled NHA and the SHAs to address fraud and address beneficiary grievances.

Public and Private Partnership

Under AB PM-JAY, both public and private hospitals have been empanelled for providing healthcare services to the Scheme beneficiaries. The participation of the private sector has increased avenues for the Scheme’s beneficiaries to seek treatment and concurrently reduced the burden on tertiary care facilities in the public sector. At the same time, public sector hospitals also stood to benefit from the Scheme. Under AB PM-JAY, it was ensured that public hospitals would be equally reimbursed for their services and at the same rates as that of private hospitals. This delineation of the Government’s role as provider and purchaser of healthcare services has allowed for the monetisation of healthcare services that were hitherto provided free-of-cost. This has supported public sector hospitals to create a pool of untied funds that could be sustainably invested in infrastructure and human resources. The complementary role of the public and private sector hospitals has been vital in ensuring that the Scheme implementation proceeds seamlessly. ln order to make AB PM-JAY more accommodative for different types to stakeholders, the following policy adoptions arc being processed for implementing radical policy changes: Health Benefit Packages 2022 Since the inception of the AB PM-JA\ Scheme, NHA has made several changes in the constituents and pi ices of its Health Benefit Packages (l IBP). There has been a transition from HBP 1.0 (September 2018) to HBP 2.0 (November 2019), HBP 2.1 (November 2020), and HBP 2.2 (November 2021) . Recently, the HBP master has been reviewed and revised and therefore, HBP 2022 was launched. The rationalisation exercise for revision to ‘HBP 2022 comprised of an extensive review of current Scheme performance in terms of its utilisation and related issues, consideration of cost evidence to determine the variation in cost and price, an exhaustive consultation with expert committees in different specialties, inputs from State Health Agencies, hospital associations, and other stakeholders. The new version has added 365 new procedures taking the total package count to 1949 and also has included high-end procedures like Bone marrow transplant, Cochlear implant surgery, and several Interventional Radiology procedures. The revised package has a new specialty of Palliative care also added in addition to rationalising the existing procedure rates. With HBP 2022, differential pricing is being introduced for the first time under the Scheme, based upon the type of city and level of care

International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11)

AB PM-JAY has recently completed three years, and NHA as part of a new initiative has taken steps to strengthen patient classification and provider payment systems through ICD- 11 (International Classification of Diseases)/ICHI (International Classification of Health Intervention) for AB PM-JAY Scheme using DRG (Diagnosis Related Groups). A lot of work has already been initiated and a detailed plan has been developed. Experiences from other countries and health systems will always help us shorten our learning curve. The ICD-11 costing tool is easy to use. The smart search option of ICD tooling with phonetic or spelling errors, unspecified and other specified diagnosis is an incredibly helpful endeavor. ICD-11 & ICHI tooling infrastructure along with the three specific module have been prepared for each cluster to do the coding exercises, which include the first two modules for easy and straightforward coding exercises and module#3 for more typical and multiple diagnosis-based problems to solve, The coding platform provides more options for post-coordination and laterality. This IT integration will have the standardisation of Scheme nomenclature as per international standards, AB PM-JAY Scheme has the country’s largest data on health insurance/assurance sector, hence this will help in rich data mining and useful policy insights, which lead to evidence-based decision making. Key challenges will also include coding accuracy and compliance.

Diagnostic Related Groups (DRGs)

AB PM-JAY is the first insurance Scheme in India and amongst the first few in the world to implement a provider payment mechanism through Diagnosis Related Grouping (DRG). The DRG system entails that the hospital gets paid based on the admitted patient’s diagnosis and prognosis, rather than paying on the basis of booked HBP. This will address today’s hospital concerns that package costs do not address/incorporate complications and co- morbidities. For example, if a hospital can treat a patient while spending less money than the DRG payment for that illness, the hospital makes a profit. If, while treating the hospitalised patient, the hospital spends more money than the DRG payment, the hospital will lose money on that patient’s hospitalisation. This is meant to control healthcare costs by encouraging the efficient care of hospitalised patients. With DRG implementation, packages would not be selected by hospitals but instead assigned by a grouping algorithm using patients’ underlying diagnosis and procedures which will be beneficial in many ways like increased objectivity, greater transparency, and workload reduction for pre-authorisations. It may create more incentives for increasing quality by providing the ‘right’ care in terms of length of stay, consumables, and number of tests/procedures. DRG can thus contribute to the empanelment of certain specialties like bums, trauma, etc., which at present, hospitals do not want to cater to, due to low payments or multiple specialty approaches. Adoption of Diagnostic Related Groups under AB PM-JAY will reduce the abase of certain specialties and packages based on high volume, high costs, and large variation by making hospital friendly grouping. DRG will also reflect various human related to the patient’s healthcare needs, including the severity of the condition, the prognosis, how difficult or intensive the treatment is, and the resources necessary to treat the patient. The most important part of assigning a DRG is getting the correct primary diagnosis and this is where implementation of ICD/ICHI will play a pivotal role. DRGs support the rational use of hospital care as an effective way to achieve a balanced health service system and will be associated with quality assurance mechanisms. Aapke Dwar Avushman Sustained beneficiary' identification drives are necessary to improve the saturation of Ayushman cards and thereby increase awareness of the Scheme. Furthermore, there is a positive correlation between Ayushman cards generated and the demand for healthcare services under the Scheme. As a result, one of the key activities that I greenlighted upon assuming charge of NHA was the ‘Aapke Dwar Ayushman’ Under Aapke Dwar Ayushman, a grassroots network of frontline healthcare workers. Gram Panchayat officials, and village-based digital entrepreneurs were used to undertake door-to- door mobilisation of beneficiaries across communities. Special night camps were set up for daily wagers. These efforts translated into the creation of more than 4.7 crores Ayushman Cards since January' 2021. an increase of 55% in the Ayushman cards generated by the NHA IT system. Aapke Dwar Ayoishman therefore, gave a big fillip to beneficiary' identification activities under AB PN1-JAY. NHA is launching Aapke Dwar Ayushman with renewed vigour. This time, we are focusing on States such as Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh. Besides, credit goes to the entire Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY ecosystem consisting of NHA, SHAs, DIUs, Implementation support agencies, Pradhan Mantri Arogya Mitras, frontline healthcare workers, Ayushman Card creators from partner agencies such as CSC/UTIITSL for their tireless support in making AB PM-JAY such a grand success. However, moving forward much more needs to be done to help the Scheme realise its full potential. To conclude, AB PM-JAY is a path-breaking intervention to address healthcare delivery holistically. I believe it has the potential to catapult India into the top countries of the world in terms of healthcare that’s built on the 3As of Accessibility, Affordability, and Availability. The road ahead perhaps may seem long and not easy. But I believe that difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations and with our collective efforts and hard work, we can help Ayushman Bharat Scheme touch and save more lives and ensure that no one’s health is disregarded.

Moorhen Yoga Mats

Handwoven Moorhen Yoga Mats is an initiative by the Indigenous Fishing Community using Natural Materials from Deepor Beel Wetland. The Moorhen Yoga Mat is named after Kam Sorai (Purple moorhen, a resident bird of Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary). These mats are produced led by women from the fishing community, living on the fringe of the Sanctuary, whose families are directly dependent on the wetland for their survival. They' have trained themselves in fibre processing and making products out of the natural materials like water hyacinth present within their ecosystem. During the pandemic, a few women shared their learnings through ‘free to all’ training programme with other women in their community, so that livelihood is made possible for others. North East Centre for Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR), an autonomous body under the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Govt, of India took an innovative initiative to involve the entire women community associated with the Project to create wealth from water hyacinth plants, which are generally considered as a nuisance to the ecosystem and waste, therefore unwanted. Their idea is based on 3 Rs: Right, Revolution and Relationship. Today, 38 women from 3 fringe villages work six days a week to produce Yoga Mats. Considering all aspects of water hyacinth’s behavioural properties and the functional requirements of a product like a mat, a hand-woven, 100% biodegradable, and 100% compostable mat to be used for doing Yoga was ideated as a means of providing multiple ecological and social benefits such as improvement of the aquatic ecosystem of the wetland through the removal of water hyacinth, sustainable production of utility products with community engagement and generation of livelihood for indigenous communities to become completely ‘Atmanirbhar’. These Yoga Mats have been developed with technological support, under the theme ‘Waste to Wealth’.