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India To create AI/ML Enabled Portal for Pensioners

Image credit: DOPPW_India; Twitter

The Department of Pension and Pensioners’ Welfare (DoPPW) is working on an artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)-enabled Integrated Pensioners Portal, linking the DoPPW portal, Bhavishya, and the pension portals of various banks. It will also develop a chatbot to ensure seamless interactions between the government, pensioners, and bankers.

Bhavishya has ensured the end-to-end digitisation of pension processing and payment in line with the government’s objective of enhanced transparency, complete digitisation, and better service delivery. It was made mandatory for all central government departments in 2017 and is currently implemented in the main secretariat of 97 ministries/departments.

The new DoPPW portal development project was announced at a two-day Bankers’ Awareness Programme by V. Srinivas, the DoPPW Secretary. More than 50 officers in the northern zone from centralised pension payment centres (CPPC) and pension dealing branches attended the programme. According to a press release, the Department is setting up a technology team to create the digital systems as the first deliverables in collaboration with the Punjab National Bank (PNB) and other banks. The government will pay specific attention to the process and people-related grievances by PNB.

The Secretary also spoke about the Digital Life Certificate (Jeevan Pramaan), which is a biometric-enabled digital service for pensioners of the central or state government or employees of any government organisation. Launched in 2014, the Digital Life Certificate is available through Aadhar-based biometric devices and the Indian Post Payments Bank’s Rural Postal Services. Face authentication technology for the service was developed last November, which transformed the way pensioners submit their life certificates.

To make the process more convenient for pensioners, DoPPW has taken several welfare measures in pension policy and in the digitisation of pension-related processes. For instance, in June, DoPPW launched a mobile phone version of Bhavishya to aid the seamless processing, tracking, and disbursal of pensions. The technology can send automatic alerts to pensioners and enable users to submit input, suggestions, and grievances.

Bhavishya 8.0 was released in August 2020 with a new feature to PUSH e-PPOs in DigiLocker. DigiLocker is the government’s digitisation online service that allows citizens to store important and official documents. Bhavishya is the first application to use the Digilocker ID-based PUSH technology. 3,892 e-PPOs have been pushed to Digilocker so far. Bhavishya allows retiring employees to link their DigiLocker account to the portal to get an e-PPO. Since the software is fed with the latest pension rules, the calculation of pension is accurate and as per rule and not based on the interpretation of the staff concerned.

The Bankers’ Awareness Programme is a part of a series of awareness programmes launched by DoPPW since the major pension disbursing authorities are banks. The programmes are for central pension processing centres and field functionaries handling pension-related work. The objective of these programmes is to spread awareness of the various rules and procedures regarding the disbursement of pensions to government pensioners as well as to update the field functionaries about the changes that take place from time to time through various amendments in the policy and procedures. The programme also helps understand the issues faced by bank officials when handling processes and pensioners’ grievances.

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