Taking Stock of the Digital Welfare State: Databases and Automated Welfare in India

Taking Stock of the Digital Welfare State

Databases and Automated Welfare in India


  • Nadha Noureen C K Jawaharlal Nehru University


Automation, Welfare, Databases, Transparency, Accountability, Privacy, Inclusion


In India, automated eligibility systems, databases, and digital identification mechanisms are increasingly incorporated into the public sector, especially in crucial services like welfare at local, sub-national and national levels. Efficiency, inclusiveness and speediness are the state-proposed benefits of digitisation of the welfare sector. However, global experiments with welfare automation technologies provide ample evidence of flaws and discrepancies in their operation alongside the opportunities. This paper analyses specific issues concerning automation in India in the twin contexts of the absence of a comprehensive data/smart-technology regulatory architecture that safeguards beneficiaries from the possible grievances they encounter in the technology-driven delivery of welfare and the increasing concerns about AI and intelligent technologies in general. It looks into the welfare automation initiatives of the state governments in the country and tests the viability of such projects with specific risk factors inferred from global experiences- accountability, privacy, transparency and exclusion/inclusion. Initiatives like Bhamashah Yojana in Rajasthan, Samagra in Madhya Pradesh, Samagra Vedika in Telangana and SARAL/PPP in Haryana are scrutinised to understand the intricacies of welfare automation in India. 




How to Cite

Nadha Noureen C K. (2023). Taking Stock of the Digital Welfare State: Databases and Automated Welfare in India. Journal of Polity and Society, 15(1). Retrieved from https://journalspoliticalscience.com/index.php/i/article/view/153