A collaborative effort between Microsoft, open-source initiative OpenNyAI, and AI4Bharat has enabled the development of Jugalbandi, a chatbot that employs innovative artificial intelligence technology to bridge the gap in information access for remote areas across India. Jugalbandi offers insights into more than 170 government programs in ten indigenous languages to villagers in smaller Indian towns and villages.

Despite being the world’s second-largest wireless market, India struggles with uneven technological progress, particularly with smaller towns and remote regions lacking access to regular media outlets. Jugalbandi hopes to address the associated challenges by leveraging a platform that has universal recognition in India – WhatsApp.

The language used in government programs often presented a major obstacle for these communities. Jugalbandi’s ability to interact in both text and voice, and, more importantly, in the local language, has been a game-changer. With the aid of language models from AIBharat and reasoning models from Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service, Jugalbandi effectively allows individuals to ask questions and receive responses in their language of choice.

CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, expressed his enthusiasm at the company’s Build conference when he said, “This time around this technology reaches everybody in the world… and to be able to do that by diffusion that takes days and weeks not years and centuries because we want that equitable growth and trust in technology to protect the fundamental rights that we care about”

Jugalbandi’s success in reaching remote hamlets hundreds of miles away from major tech hubs like Seattle and San Francisco highlights a development in technological accessibility. The U.S tech giant is looking into widening the reach of such technology to democratize information access across the broader populace of India. Collaborations with numerous Indian enterprises, such as Gram Vaani, are key in realising this vision, boosting equitable growth and trust in technology while protecting fundamental rights that help communities leverage the power of new age tech.

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