Soumya Prakash Pradhan

Microsoft has introduced Jugalbandi, an innovative WhatsApp chatbot, aiming to improve information access for farmers and rural residents in India.

Unlike other chatbots, Jugalbandi employs advanced AI technology similar to ChatGPT, enabling it to provide better responses in various Indian languages.

Local Language Information

Jugalbandi unveiled at Microsoft's Build 2023 event, is a noteworthy achievement in AI-driven solutions.

Utilizing GPT models via Azure OpenAI service, this chatbot is designed to overcome language barriers by providing information in users' local languages.

Users can easily engage with Jugalbandi by initiating a conversation with a simple "hi" sent to a designated number, gaining access to valuable resources.

Functionality of Jugalbandi

To engage with Jugalbandi, users can send text or audio messages to the provided WhatsApp number.

The Jugalbandi bot utilises the AI4Bharat speech recognition model to transcribe the messages, which are then translated to English using the Bhashini translation model, another innovation by AI4Bharat.

Azure OpenAI Service's model retrieves information regarding the relevant government scheme based on the inquiry.

After finding the answer, it is translated into Hindi and then turned into speech using the AI4Bharat text-to-speech model. Finally, the response is sent back to the user through WhatsApp.

Microsoft acknowledges the challenges that can arise with AI-powered chatbots and emphasizes the significance of user involvement in training the model.

Furthermore, collaborations with local entities play a crucial role in ensuring accurate responses in different local languages.

Microsoft actively seeks partnerships with local organizations to enhance Jugalbandi's effectiveness and accuracy, aiming for continuous improvements in the system.

The Benefits of Jugalbandi

Jugalbandi, even in its early stages, holds immense potential to transform access to government schemes and welfare programs in India.

With numerous programs having unique criteria and requirements, navigating official websites can be difficult, particularly for those who are illiterate or unfamiliar with English.

Jugalbandi aims to tackle this challenge by offering accurate and timely answers, reducing the necessity for multiple visits to government service centers and minimising the inconvenience of retrieving missing documents.

Jugalbandi's Progress

Since its introduction in April 2022 in Biwan village, Jugalbandi has made significant progress.

Currently, it supports ten of India's 22 official languages and covers approximately 171 out of around 20,000 government programs.

Alongside AI4Bharat, OpenNyAI, an AI startup specializing in simplifying legal jargon, is also collaborating on Jugalbandi's development.

As the chatbot continues to evolve and expand its language capabilities, it is poised to assist individuals like Vandna, an 18-year-old resident of Biwan.

Vandna utilised Jugalbandi to discover government scholarships for her studies in Political Science, Hindi, and History.

By providing Vandna with a list of relevant central and state government programs, Jugalbandi helped her understand eligibility criteria and the required supporting documents for her application.