January 21, 2022

Indian Minister States Crypto Should be Blocked if Used Illegally

According to the Minister of State for External Affairs in India, cryptocurrencies should be blocked if they are used for any illegal activity. Some of the scenarios she mentioned included the use of these digital currencies for launching cyber-attacks or other attacks on India or other unethical and illegal activities like drug trafficking. Meanwhile, all reports indicate that the Indian government is working on some changes to the crypto bill that had been listed to be discussed in the ongoing session of the parliament. Meenakshi Lekhi, the Minister of State for External Affairs, has stressed repeatedly that if cryptocurrencies harm the integrity and sovereignty of India, they should be blocked.

Lekhi also holds the position of the current Indian minister of state for culture. She had been elected in May 2014 to the 16th Lok Sabha from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In May 2019, she had been reelected to the 17th Lok Sabha. Last week, the Global Technology Summit had been held, which was organized jointly by Carnegie India and the Ministry of External Affairs. Lekhi had spoken at the sixth summit and said that if crypto was used for launching cyberattacks in the country, or for illegal activities, then blocking it is the way to go. 

She added that she was sure the IT ministry and the Finance ministry had looked into these aspects deeply. The minister went on to say that crypto exchanges and platforms belonged to a group of people who were trying to avoid paying taxes. She said that they were taking the money out of India and giving benefit to the country where they were making all this wealth. Meanwhile, a cryptocurrency bill had been listed for discussion in the current session of the lower house of the Indian Parliament known as Lok Sabha. 

However, all reports suggest that the Indian government will not discuss it in the current session because they are planning on making some changes to it. Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister, has headed some meetings regarding crypto legislation in the country and is expected to make the final decision about crypto regulation in India. He had recently stated that crypto should be considered as a tool for empowering democracy, rather than one used for undermining it. Initially, reports had indicated that India was planning on banning cryptocurrencies altogether and even the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had said that it was in favor of the move.

But, recent reports indicate that the government will regulate crypto assets, but will not permit the use of these digital currencies as a means of payment. Nonetheless, the Indian central bank does not seem to be in favor of regulating crypto and has said that a partial ban would not be effective. It remains to be seen as to what changes the Indian government will make in the new bill, which is expected to be taken up in the budget session scheduled for February, instead of this ongoing winter session as initially planned. 

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