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September 24, 2023

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Microsoft-supported ‘Jugalbandi’ brings multilingual accessibility to Indian govt schemes

2 min read


An Indian research group, Jugalbandi, which is supported by Microsoft and Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani has been making use of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create mobile assistance that would make the information on government schemes accessible in multiple languages. Jugalbandi used language models from AI4Bharat and artificial intelligence (AI) through Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service.

How does Jugalbandi work?

So far, Jugalbandi can understand questions in 10 languages. To answer the questions, it pulls information from government websites that is typically written in English and translates them in local languages. It operates over Meta Platforms-owned WhatsApp messaging service.

Microsoft highlights Jugalbandi’s potential in India. It says Jugalbandi addresses the language barrier as only 11 per cent of the 1.4 billion population in India speaks English. The bot’s success stories include assisting a student in securing a scholarship and helping a farmer in applying for pensions.

Accuracy issues

Jugalbandi, while relaying answers, can sound convincing but are made up. This tendency of Jugalbandi has been called hallucination. The application of Jugalbandi is constrained by a data deficit, as organizations often lack the resources or bandwidth to build data pipelines for the bot’s utilisation.

Pratyush Kumar, co-principal investigator at AI4Bharat and a principal researcher at Microsoft Research India, said, “Sometimes these models do make errors. They are probabilistic machines.” He has said that AI4Bharat is trying to sort these issues in Jugalbandi.

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