In 2015, the Population Council conducted a unique survey to study the lives of adolescents and young adults - Project UDAYA - in the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Interviews were conducted and data collected about education, health, employment and other social and economic conditions of over 20,000 adolescents. Project UDAYA was a longitudinal study in which the categories that were studied in 2015-16, were revisited between 2018-19 to see how adolescents’ lives had changed. The study made us reflect on who we imagined as the Indian adolescent today and what they might need to transition to a successful adulthood
The comic was a large-scale collaborative project with additional field research from Agents of Ishq. It is a narrativized form of the many moving stories we heard and the data that was collected through Project UDAYA. The story of the comic unfolds as a team of four researchers set off to conduct the survey. Through their experiences on the field, we see them reflect on their own lives and their journeys as researchers. As they understand the lives of the youngsters they meet, their own lives go through love, marriage, having children and reminiscing bittersweet memories.
Besides the poignant stories inspired from the researchers’ and adolescents’ lives, this comic offers an insight into the world of research. The amount of time that goes in preparing, conducting and reviewing a project, the transformative power of encountering a different world and the necessity for such a method of research. A method that gathers stories of people besides treating them as data points. While data might help us estimate scale, it is stories that make us care for people we may not know in real life. It is stories that have the power to inspire us to create a more caring world.