Students for Liberty, South Asia conducted its first LIT (Liberty, Innovation and Technology) Policy Hackathon or Policython series in collaboration with Project Statecraft, a nonpartisan youth-led policy think tank. The Policython series was organized under the Tech Liberty Campaign, a flagship campaign run by Students for Liberty globally, and spanned over the months of November 2020 to January 2021.
The objective of organizing these events was to raise awareness about the importance of liberty in technological advancements such as Artificial Intelligence, Cryptocurrency, Blockchain, etc. through the act of policymaking. It aimed at capacitating and empowering the youth in the intersectional fields of technology, policy and libertarian rights by facilitating them and providing them with a platform to brainstorm, coordinate and solve problems by creating practical and innovative solutions for problems at the crossroads of Policy and Technology.
The LIT series started with a Webinar on ‘Blockchain Technology: India’s Policy Response’, organized in the month of November. The webinar was presided over by the Industry Expert, Ms Shikha Mehra, who is also the co-founder of Mainchain. The webinar was followed by three Samvads or Socratic discussions on the themes of Sustainable Technology, Education technology and Artificial Intelligence. The Samvads spanned over the months of December and January. The discussions held on the aforementioned themes- Blockchain Technology, Sustainable Technology, Education technology and Artificial Intelligence- along with a fifth theme- Cryptocurrency formed the basis for the five problem statements prepared by Students for Liberty and Project Statecraft for the Policy Hackathon. To assist the participants’ preparations, two workshops with Nikore Associates were organized to provide the participants with practical insights into the skill of policymaking and drafting.
A total of about 300 registrations were received over the entire series of events. Out of these, nineteen teams were formed for the main two-day event, which was organized on 9th and 10th of January 2021. The Policy Hackathon commenced at 9:00 AM on the 9th of January 2021 with an opening ceremony wherein the participants were briefed about the course of the events. Following the opening ceremony, the second workshop was conducted with the industry experts of Nikore Associates, wherein a thorough guide was given to the participants about writing a one-page brief, which they were required to submit in the first round, and an elaborate policy-statement, which was to be prepared by the teams once they qualified the first round. Elaborate suggestions and tips about the language required to be used while drafting policies to address issues such as inclusivity, diversity, disparity, etc. were also given to the participants. Ten out of the nineteen teams qualified to the second round based on their one-page abstract submissions. A mentor session was then conducted to allow the participants to discuss their ideas with industry experts. These were Ms Shikha Mehra, Mr Raj Shah, Prof. Avik Sarkar and Mr Sridhar Rajagopalan, who also constituted the judging panel for evaluating the final policy statements.
On 10th of January 2021, the final round saw the qualifying teams submit and present their policy statements. This was followed by a cross-questioning round by the judging panel, which also scored them on the basis of their submissions, presentations, and responses. The LIT Policython concluded with the declaration of the results during the Closing Ceremony held at 10 P.M., 10 January 2021. Three out of the ten teams were adjudged winners of the competition, who also received a cash prize worth Rs. 6000. All the ten teams that qualified to the second round received Tech-Liberty Merchandise from Students for Liberty.
The core organizing team for the event consisted of SFL local coordinators from India- Devika Dinesh, Pavit Kaur, Venkat Raj, Saber Ali and Chhavi Pathak and members of Project Statecraft- Abhishek Sudke, Shreyas Ashok Kumar and Shivank Singh Chauhan.