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Indian IT Ministry to Use AI/ML to Speed Up Service Delivery

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The government has launched a project that is expected to speed up the delivery of several citizen services using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). The project, the Digital Government Mission, will break down silos and make government systems more intelligent, according to an official. The system will help citizens discover schemes that they are eligible for, and government benefits they can receive. The idea is that the benefits should be offered to citizens without them having to apply for them.

For instance, a student who qualifies for a government-funded scholarship scheme will get an automatic alert from the concerned department instead of the student enquiring and applying for the same. The official claimed that this is the next phase of e-governance. Citizens will also have easier access to subsidised food grains through ration cards under the project, which is currently in the advanced stages of discussion within the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). A proposal is likely to be drawn up soon, the official added. As per data from The Economic Times, the Ministry is creating a strategy note on digital government, which is in line with the Prime Minister’s vision of accelerating the digitalisation of governance.

An industry expert said that the overarching concept of trying to receive services without asking for them is necessary, and with AI and ML, the predictive part becomes easier. People should be able to get automatic renewals every time their driving licence or passports expire since all the data is already available with the government. At best, a message that seeks permission before someone’s passport is renewed or asks if changes need to be made, should be sent, while the rest of the process should be automatic. With the ability to interlink data, through AI and ML, governance can become far easier. It can offer services in an integrated manner across services and departments, which will tremendously benefit citizens.

The government launched the national e-governance mission over 15 years ago when it digitised scores of government services like passports, land records, certificates and income tax in mission mode. Over several years, almost all government services have been digitised. Officials say that the government is looking at the platformisation of the current projects. For instance, the health mission follows a platform approach where there is going to be one interface for all the major initiatives. Similar is the case for education, agriculture, and transport, where the centre wants to transform them into one domain.  Currently, there are many applications, which have to be made seamless and features such as a single sign-in have to be introduced.

In 2020, the government released a discussion paper on a policy called the National Open Digital Ecosystem (NODE). It aimed to replicate the success of Aadhaar, the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), and the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN). It set out to build platforms that not only help the government improve public service delivery, but also enable private companies to build applications with these “digital rails”. Preliminary estimates suggest that by 2030, NODEs have the potential to unlock over US$500 billion in economic value together with tremendous societal and governance benefits.

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