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SCEB INDIVIDUAL MEMO

-Debasish Sahoo (17098), Sec E, IIMA

The SCEB assignment on hand was one of a real experience in which I encountered the life experiences of few marginalized
communities/people, about whom I used to read on newspapers and on screen. Of course the most challenging part was the
interview which had to be recorded on camera. Initially I tried to always keep a friendly approach towards a person, introducing
myself first, where I came from, what do I do, and what is the purpose of this conversation. I inform them first that this
conversation, or rather an interview, is a part of solely an academic project only and I wanted just to learn about their lifestyle
and background. I also inform them prior to questioning that this interview will be recorded on screen and if they have any
objection towards this. In some cases, I witnessed, people were willing to be recorded and generally they usually had a lot to
say, maybe they were oppressed and tried to raise their voice, but couldn’t find any medium.

But many times, people were reluctant to be recorded on video or even share their stories to a complete stranger. I used to try
to convince them that the video would be used purely for scholastic study and nothing more. I tried to be as comfortable in my
approach in convincing them as possible, but I never pushed them beyond their limits. I understood the importance of informed
consent and realized that opening up to someone out of blue, would mean compromising on their privacy. I remembered how
these marginalized sections of society are the first one to be affected in case of a video leak or post and this must what they
were fearing about. So in case they turned us down for the video interview, I respectfully asked them if they are okay sharing
with us without recording the video, to which they usually agreed.

Coming down to the interview, I generally asked them questions about their whereabouts, about their lifestyle, their sources
of income, any challenges they are facing, what changes they wish to see, etc. I tried to be as dignified in my approach of asking
questions so that they feel comfortable at all times, and many times I build up on the direction the person wanted to share
his/her story, and although sometimes it went out of context, but I always kept patience in listening to them so that they open
up to me as much as possible. I generally addressed them by their names and observed that they felt more respected in the
process and felt more willing to open up.

After every meaningful interview, reality struck me hard. I have been part of many such ground surveys before too, and adding
on to these interviews, I am always shocked and amazed by the difficulties these marginalized people face in their day to day
lives, be it in form of a proper income, household, government laws, treatment by people in power, including police and many
other basic rights. They don’t aspire much rather than just a simple sufficient living standard, a decent paying job, a proper
house, good health, etc., but circumstances have somehow always crippled them. But I also realized that some of the work they
do contribute a lot to the society but generally go unnoticed. Be it laborers, street vendors, etc., they all play vital roles in society
and are a part of the wheel of the society. The fact is that without their contribution, the society would be in an imbalance and
also that as their low stature odd jobs (as termed by society) go unnoticed, they are the ones to be least benefitted in any
reforms being implemented in the state. This project experience has strengthened my respect for these marginalized section of
people and the efforts they put in for their survival and I hope in future, I can be a part of any such reform, however small my
contribution may be, towards the upliftment of at least some of such people.

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