Community Spotlight: Meet Saptarshi Choudhury, Hyperledger Public Sector Special Interest Group Co-Chair

Welcome to our Community Spotlight series, which highlights the work of those taking on leadership roles in our special interest and working groups. Meet Saptarshi Choudhury, co-chair of the Public Sector Special Interest Group and Director of Emerging Technologies for Paramount Software Solutions.

Tell us about yourself. Describe your current role, your current business and background, and your involvement in the Hyperledger Public Sector SIG.

I am the Director of Emerging Technologies for Paramount Software Solutions. Since July 2018, I’ve primarily worked on digital transformation in enterprises through blockchain. Prior to that, I worked for AMK Solutions exploring the values of human dynamics and correlation with digital adoption. I started my engagement with the public sector in December 2012 as an electrical engineer for the infrastructure unit of HSCL. I hold a Bachelors and Masters in electrical engineering and have had the opportunity to glimpse the diversity of the world from the lens of different challenging roles. Last year in February, the Hyperledger Public Sector Special Interest Group (PS SIG) intrigued me as it drew attention from people all over the world with diverse backgrounds in technical, business, political or socio-economic frontiers. I have been regularly attending the biweekly meetings for the last one and a half years and am presently hosting the meeting as a co-chair with Dr. Hanna Norberg.

Where do you hope to see Hyperledger and/or blockchain in five years? 

Hyperledger is expanding the width and depth of its efforts to promote decentralization for trust and transparency through its evergreen projects. Distributed ledger technologies like Hyperledger Fabric and Hyperledger Sawtooth are gaining global attention as platforms for private and permissioned ledgers for enterprise applications whereas Hyperledger Indy is revolutionizing how we perceive the fundamental concept of Digital ID. This year Hyperledger Besu was featured in the Coindesk 50. There are other exciting projects like Iroha and Burrow that are on track to help solve critical challenges of the world through blockchain. My hope is that we will be able to make progress on different aspects with tools like Hyperledger Cactus on interoperability, Hyperledger Avalon on trusted off-chain transactions and Hyperledger Caliper on performance benchmarking. In addition, thanks to the Hyperledger Ursa library, we will be able to avoid duplicating cryptographic modules for different projects. 

What do you see as the biggest barrier to widespread blockchain adoption?

My take is that the biggest barriers are lack of clarity in policies and regulations covering the different aspects of blockchain and the need for standardization and interoperability among the evolving solutions.

What are the biggest opportunities ahead for blockchain developers?

The Hyperledger projects are based on software languages that are popular among programmers, and so they can get started without specialized training. The underlying coding background could be JavaScript, Python, Go or even Java. Even if someone has limited skill in coding, they don’t need to shy away from working with the community as the starting point could be adding value to the documentation team. They can also review and contribute to the projects in Github.

What is the Public Sector SIG working on currently? Any new developments to share? 

The Public Sector SIG is presently hosting biweekly presentations by interested volunteers from different parts of the world. We proactively monitor all the governmental policies and initiatives associated with blockchain. In addition, we are creating a database of all the blockchain initiatives in the public sector globally. Recently, there has been a surge of interest among the members to address the Covid-19 pandemic. We are also seeing interest in the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).

What’s the most important milestone for the Public Sector SIG to reach in 2020? 

The unending pandemic of Covid-19 has tilted the focus on healthcare. However, there are people who also want to explore and understand the regulatory frameworks and progressive stance for blockchain in different countries. We as a community collectively intend to foster collaboration among public agencies, private organizations and nonprofits with the aim of cutting away barriers to sharing specific blockchain work across borders to minimize siloed efforts and parallel initiatives.

Why should someone participate in the group? Why is it important for Hyperledger to encourage collaboration around adopting blockchain technologies for public sector use cases? 

From an individual point of view, open source meetings are a hotbed for nurturing leadership skills and working in a collaborative environment. From the standpoint of Hyperledger, active community participation means solutions are designed and developed based on shared values and joint philosophy. The Public Sector SIG emphasizes wider adoption of blockchain technologies that add value to all irrespective of who they are or what their worldview entails. 

What are a few ways people can participate in and contribute to the Public Sector SIG? (i.e., What type of support does the group need?)

People can join the Public Sector SIG meetings that occur via Zoom every other Friday at 10am ET. They can also subscribe to the mailing list to stay updated about the latest progress in the community and contribute to the Hyperledger Wiki. To get involved, it’s best to create a Linux Foundation ID. I would also recommend going through the short clip on “How to get involved in the Public Sector SIG.”