Cautionary Tales

Being on field is an adventure in itself. All field missions are unique, bringing strange, funny, and on occasions disturbing anecdotes to help us learn and grow as researchers.
Data Privacy pe sabka hai adhikar

As a data collection organization working in the development space for over a decade, there are “trends” we come across over the years.
From women remaining inside the house during surveys, to them sitting beside the male members in the courtyard as equal participants, good changes are hard to come by but they are surely on their way.
What (pleasantly) surprised our field team was the sense of awareness the respondents had during our field work in 2023

As a policy, our teams carry ID cards, and approval letters from the authorities and are trained to make appropriate introductions, but these have seldom come in use since the assumption that rural communities are less apprehensive in taking surveys is not far from the truth. However, this time around our teams were privy to questions about our backgrounds, where we come from, what is the purpose of the tool, what change can this potentially bring to their lives, and do we have “proper permission” to ask certain questions.

The communities were not just aware about their sense of privacy, the photos we were taking etc, but the young children of the household also made sure to see our website and Facebook page.

“As changemakers in the public policy space, we always wish to see impactful change at the ground level. With govt schemes and CSRs working across knowledge building and awareness initiatives for rural communities, it is wonderful to witness this cycle of positive change. “

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Pucho, magar dhyan se...!
Field work from a research perspective is often more complicated than one thinks. 

Appointment seeking, permission slips, mountains of paperwork, repeated enumerator training, coordination and so much more is also a major part of field work. However, it can all go to waste after one interaction. 

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Kar ke dikhayenge, haan bhai haan
Outline India conducted a study aimed at assessing the foundational literacy (Reading, Writing) & numeracy skills (Arithmetic Operations, Addition, Subtraction) of children in primary school across a couple of states = The researchers assumed that owing to complex mathematical calculations, the assessment on one child might take longer.

Expecting to see children hesitating and taking time if not struggling with calculations, the researchers were pleasantly surprised when they witnessed that without a moment's hesitation, the young students answered the questions rather quickly, and some even without needing a sheet of paper,

While this assumption in no way hindered the study, it made us realize the bias of setting the bar so low for the students of rural areas than that of urban communities. It served as a reminder that every child, regardless of their background, has the ability to excel when provided with the right educational resources and opportunities. This heartwarming encounter with these eager young minds left the researchers with a renewed sense of purpose, committed to empowering these children.

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Fear and Foe
Fearing strangers is a simple emotion to understand and sympathize with, but considering the same strangers as foe requires thinking deeply and assessing one’s actions.

There can be hostility on certain occasions and it can make one curious and uncomfortable at the same time. Our field team has experienced discomfort and unwelcoming stares from villages on many occasions but once the team explains their agenda and reasoning, their reservations are put to ease this was one such experience where we were practically rushed out of the village, almost on our hands and knees.

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