Coming soon: A virtual assistant 'MakkalNalamBot' for info on government schemes

MakkalNalamBot allows users to select the details of their gender, age and income to learn about the schemes available across the State.

Published: 10th July 2022 11:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th July 2022 11:56 AM   |  A+A-


Collector V Vishnu introduces MakkalNalamBot during an open innovation challenge ‘GovTechThon’ in Tirunelveli. (V Karthik Alagu, EPS)

Express News Service

TIRUNELVELI: All it takes is a touch and a swipe on your cell phone for an idea to spread like wildfire. Yet, many get settled on the margins. A large section of the public are forced to stand in long queues outside government offices to identify and ensure their rights, guaranteed under the Constitution.

In a bid to find a silver bullet to this problem, Collector V Vishnu floated an open innovation challenge ‘GovTechThon’, inviting innovators to build a virtual assistant chatbot for government schemes. What happened next was the collective effort from three youngsters — RS Siva Subramanian (33), R Ajithkumar (27), and T Venkadesh (22)  —  from Government College of Technology in Coimbatore that had teamed up to come up with a solution.

Siva Subramanian, who is a UK-based chat-box designer, created a basic Telegram chatbot design with his two juniors.

The design is called MakkalNalamBot. It allows users to select the details of their gender, age and income to learn about the schemes available across the State. Not only did the team win a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh, but they also bagged an opportunity to inculcate the model in a software to be launched later this month.

The software, with more than 132 schemes, was described to be a one-stop solution for those seeking assistance with government schemes, from cradle to the grave.

“We are currently working with more than eight departments in the district administration. The language is solely Tamil as of now, fully integrated software will be launched once all schemes are included,” said Ajithkumar.

Some of the schemes that will be included in the chatbot are Pre-matric Scholarship by the Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare department, Pre-matric Scholarship and Incentive Scheme for rural girls  by BC MBC Welfare department.

Regarding privacy concerns, MakkalNalambot has a lofty claim, as it does not require the unique identity number. “Aadhar and other personal data will not be collected. The software will protect the privacy of individuals and will not store previous queries,” said Siva, adding that nobody will have to type a single word, and the guidance for schemes will be a touch-only process.

District National Informatics Centre Technical director Arumuganainar assured the software will get precise results in 6-7 touches. “An individual is eligible for many schemes, especially women. They will be provided guidance on which department they should approach for each scheme. A point of contact will also be given,” he said.

The team plans to expand its horizon and include Central schemes in different languages.


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