Can AI Modernize India's Social Empowerment Sector and Improve Legal Literacy for Everyday Citizens? This Nonprofit Leader thinks so!

Surabhi Sinha

Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly recognized not just as a technological marvel but as a catalyst for social good. In India, where legal literacy and access to justice remain significant challenges, AI offers innovative solutions that can bridge the gap. According to a report by the National Legal Services Authority, only 25% of Indians are aware of their legal rights, and over 70% of legal disputes go unresolved due to lack of access to legal resources.

But since the 2020 Open AI boom, organizations and experts in the field are actively adopting and leveraging AI to develop tools that make legal information more accessible and provide personalized legal assistance. One such organization making strides in this area is the TogetherThrive Foundation, co-founded by Surabhi Sinha. Surabhi, who currently works as a Machine Learning Engineer III at Adobe in San Jose, California, answers the question of whether or not "AI is helping to modernize India's social empowerment landscape and improve literacy around basic laws".

Current Landscape of Legal Awareness and Social Empowerment in India:

With only 1 out of every 4 Indians being legally literate, there has never been a better time for us to use technology to teach people basic civil rights. Surabhi, who works at the forefront of solving this problem for the everyday Indian says, "India faces significant challenges in ensuring legal awareness and social empowerment, especially among marginalized communities. Legal literacy remains alarmingly low, especially amongst women with many of them unaware of their rights and the legal recourse available to them. Moreover, access to justice is another critical issue."

This is true! According to the India Justice Report 2020, there are over 70% of legal disputes in India that go unresolved for lack of legal resources and assistance. The high cost of legal services, coupled with the slow judicial process, exacerbates the problem, making it difficult for economically disadvantaged individuals to seek justice. In this context, the role of technology, particularly AI, becomes crucial. AI has the potential to democratize access to legal information, optimize resource allocation for nonprofits, and provide personalized legal assistance. This is where organizations like the TogetherThrive Foundation are making a significant impact. By leveraging AI, this organization aims to bridge the gap between legal awareness and access to justice, empowering individuals and communities to navigate the legal system more effectively. For instance, TogetherThrive Foundation developed a data-driven profile evaluation tool that is currently being licensed by a U.S immigration startup that provides legal services to high skilled immigrants.

The Role of AI in Addressing These Challenges:

Surabhi mentions some of the areas where AI has been finding its way into the legal space "One of the key advantages of AI is its ability to make legal information more accessible. For many people in India, understanding legal jargon can be daunting, and navigating the legal system can feel overwhelming. AI-powered tools, such as chatbots and virtual legal assistants, can simplify complex legal terms and provide instant access to information. These tools can guide individuals through legal processes, answer questions, and even offer preliminary legal advice."

Surabhi Sinha co-founded the TogetherThrive Foundation to leverage the potential of AI to democratize legal knowledge. "AI can break down barriers by making legal information accessible to everyone, regardless of their background or education level," she explains. "By using natural language processing to better understand peoples' needs, we can ensure that people understand their rights and know how to exercise them."

Data-Driven Legal Awareness:

One of the most significant applications of AI in the legal sector is its ability to generate data-driven insights. In India, where legal literacy is often limited, AI can play a pivotal role in making legal information more accessible and understandable. Tools powered by natural language processing (NLP) can break down complex legal jargon into simpler terms, helping individuals understand their rights and the legal processes relevant to their situations.

Surabhi brings a wealth of experience within AI through published research work in the applications of neuroimaging that has had important implications in the development of care for Alzheimer's disease. Awarded multiple times for her work across the field, she shares her insights on AI's use in data-driven legal applications, stating, "AI can democratize legal knowledge by making it accessible to everyone, regardless of their background or education level. By using natural language processing, we can ensure that people understand their rights and know how to exercise them effectively."

TogetherThrive Foundation is developing AI-driven platforms that will provide instant legal advice and resources tailored to users' specific needs. Their platform would be instrumental in helping thousands of individuals navigate legal challenges, ensuring they are informed and equipped to seek justice.

Personalized Legal Assistance:

AI has the potential to provide personalized legal assistance tailored to individual needs. Unlike traditional approaches, AI can analyze a person's situation and recommend specific legal solutions, increasing the likelihood of a favorable outcome. Surabhi notes, "Personalization means that each individual receives advice and support tailored to their unique circumstances. This can make a significant difference in their ability to navigate the legal system and achieve justice." TogetherThrive Foundation is building tools that aim to analyze users' situations and offer personalized resources for them that they could use while they seek legal advice. This approach, Surabhi says, would be particularly beneficial for vulnerable populations, ensuring they receive the support they need to navigate complex legal challenges.

Empowering women through AI:

Empowering women through legal awareness and support is a critical aspect of social empowerment. AI can play a significant role in addressing issues faced by women, such as harassment and violence, by providing access to valuable legal resources tailored to their specific needs. Surabhi emphasizes the importance of using AI to support women, stating, "Advancement of women is not simply a noble goal, but a moral imperative. We are using the transformative power of AI to ensure that no woman ever has to feel crippled due to the fear of harassment or violence." The TogetherThrive Foundation has launched initiatives aimed at empowering women through AI-driven legal support. These initiatives have provided women with the knowledge and resources they need to protect their rights and seek justice, contributing to a safer and more equitable society.

Future Outlook:
Looking ahead, Surabhi envisions expanding TogetherThrive Foundation's reach to more underserved communities across India. Her goal is to create scalable AI models that other nonprofits and legal service providers can adapt to increase the foundation's impact. "By continuing to innovate at the intersection of technology and social good, we can create a more just and equitable society," she says. The potential of AI to transform legal awareness and social empowerment is immense. As organizations like TogetherThrive Foundation continue to leverage AI for social good, the future looks promising for communities across India and beyond.

Related topics : Artificial intelligence