New America Announces 2019 Class of India-United States Public Interest Technology Fellows

Press Release
Jan. 3, 2019

We are no longer accepting applications for the program, but please submit your contact information through the online form if you would like to receive a notice when we are in a position to receive new applications.

Washington, D.C.—Today, New America announced its class of 2019 India-United States Public Interest Technology Fellows. The fellowship is an eight-week exchange program, and is an initiative of the Fellows Program at New America.

Beginning in January 2019, the India-United States Public Interest Technology Fellows Exchange will bring fellows from India to the United States, and send fellows from the United States to India, to devise technology-based solutions to policy challenges. The exchange aims to strengthen the bilateral relationship between India and the United States, and to enable both countries to better harness technology to improve the lives of their citizens.

The full roster of India-United States fellows can be found here. Over the course of their fellowships, these new fellows will undertake projects in a wide range of policy areas—including drone policy, the ethics of machine learning, civic engagement & governance, and open-source transit data—among others. More information about specific areas of focus can be found below.

“We are pleased to launch the India-U.S. Public Interest Technology Fellowship Exchange as this cohort of ten devises novel technology-based solutions to address policy challenges affecting India and the United States," said Peter Bergen, New America vice president of Global Studies and Fellows. “Technology is changing India and the United States at a rapid pace, and this exchange program will enable mutual understanding of these challenges where there are both points of commonality and distinction."

New America would like to thank the Ford Foundation for its financial support of this project, and the Observer Research Foundation for its local partnership.

The 2019 Class of India-United States Fellows:

Richard Abisla will explore the decision-making process of transit authority managers to organize transit data, and determine if that data would become open or remain closed. Abisla’s project will provide key insights into what communications and information will be necessary for these decision-makers to open their data, clearing the way for transit riders to access schedule data and maps via their phones. Abisla is currently the Portfolio Manager for the Americas at Caravan Studios, a division of TechSoup.

Subhodeep Jash will focus on civic engagement that combines technology with active citizenship, and how this shapes the formation of new participatory regimes and its associated ethical implications. His background encompasses the intersection of research, advocacy, and government relations with a specific focus on tech and trade policy. Jash’s professional experience includes working on trade policy in the Office of the Chief Negotiator, WTO in the Ministry of Commerce, India, and managing regulatory and public affairs strategies for several US India Business Council member companies at Dua Consulting. He holds a master’s degree in public policy from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and graduated with a bachelor of law and business administration from Symbiosis Law School in Pune, India.

Aditya K. Kaushik will undertake a research project to showcase how blockchain-based solutions can bring about a fundamental shift in water management in light of current global trends and climate change impacts. His project will develop a blueprint on how the internet of things, predictive analytics, and big data integrated over a blockchain network can facilitate efficient, transparent, and democratic smart water governance in urban areas. Kaushik works as a project scientist at Divecha Centre for Climate Change at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. He holds a master of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California, and a master of arts degree in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Sylvia Mishra will research civilian drones and India and the United States’ potential role in shaping new drone applications, a project with applications in wider public interest issues. She is a Scoville Fellow whose research focuses on nuclear strategy and nonproliferation, Southern Asian security and nuclear dynamics, U.S. policy in Indo-Pacific, and emerging and disruptive technologies. Mishra holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Hindu College, University of Delhi; a master of science in international relations from London School of Economics and Political Science; and a master of arts in nonproliferation and terrorism studies from Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Ananth Padmanabhan will conduct research on privacy in drone systems—exploring the implications of this technology for personal data, mapping possible harms, and probing the prospects of integrating privacy-enhancing technologies and solutions into drone design and operations in order to minimize risks and advance privacy interests. He is a fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, and previously worked with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in New Delhi. He has practiced law in the Madras High Court and taught at several institutions including the National Law University, Jodhpur, and the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. He holds a master’s degree in law from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and is completing his doctoral thesis on digital copyright at the same institution.

Pranesh Prakash will research policy and standards relating to the Indian parliament's record-keeping and legislative process. He will research why votes in India's parliament aren't recorded, whether votes should be recorded, and how that process could be achieved. Prakash will also examine if parliamentary and judicial record-keeping and the legislative process could be improved by adopting open standards. He was part of the founding team of the Centre for Internet and Society, where he is now a fellow. He is also the legal lead at Creative Commons India and an affiliated fellow at the Yale Law School's Information Society Project. He was selected by Forbes India for its inaugural "30 under 30" list of young achievers in 2014, and was nominated as an Internet Freedom Fellow by the U.S. government in 2012.

Tanvi Ratna will focus on designing effective regulatory frameworks for blockchain. She is a policy analyst and engineer that manages blockchain projects with a leading global consulting firm based in India. She helped design the blockchain policy framework of the Government of Karnataka, home to India's Silicon Valley, and helps advise the central government in India on blockchain regulation. She has deep and global experience in policy design and execution, and has worked on Capitol Hill, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and with a host of central and state level ministries and departments in India. Ratna holds a master in public policy from Georgetown University and the LKY School of Public Policy, and a bachelor in engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Joshua Simons will explore how technology policy should govern the relationship between democracy and machine learning. His project explores what legal and regulatory principles are required to ensure machine learning mitigates social inequality in India, in order to understand how new technologies can enhance core democratic values in the world’s two most populous democracies. Simons also works as an advisor and research scientist on artificial intelligence ethics at Facebook, and is a Sheldon Fellow in Government at Harvard University. He was previously a policy advisor for the Labour Party in the U.K. Parliament and for the Institute for Public Policy Research. Simons graduated from Cambridge University with a starred double first in politics.

Madhulika Srikumar will study India-U.S. data sharing for law enforcement in order to explore the underlying privacy standards for access to electronic data in both countries. She will also develop a prototype of a digital tool for Indian investigating agencies to send direct requests to U.S. internet companies, incorporating human rights standards of minimization, necessity, and proportionality. Srikumar is an associate fellow and programme coordinator with the Cyber Initiative at Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. She also convenes the Foundation’s annual ‘AI For All’ dialogue in Mumbai and leads ORF’s efforts on AI policy and algorithmic bias especially the ways in which machine learning can exacerbate existing gender inequities.

Kaliya Young will explore Aadhaar, India’s biometric ID system. She plans to use value network-mapping to understand the whole ecosystem around Aadhaar, and to explore a pathway from the current Aadhaar and India stack towards the self-sovereign identity or decentralized identity technologies that are gaining traction in North America and Europe. Young is the author of A Comprehensive Guide to Self-Sovereign Identity, and is currently an adjunct professor at Merritt College. She received a master of science in identity management in 2017 from the University of Texas at Austin, and an undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley.