The Story Behind the Photo: Tara Bansal

The Story Behind the Photo: Tara Bansal


This is Duke University. Hi, I’m Tara Bansal. I’m a junior and
I’m a Public Policy, Global Health double major. This past year, I was the 2015 winner
of the #PolicyinAction Sanford photo contest. So the photo was taken when I was in Bangalore
in India. I was there with my Bass Connections team and we were working on understanding
the potential for social mobility for people within the slums and then also understanding
the political network and how services are distributed efficiently throughout the slums. So one of my jobs was going into the slums
and interviewing a lot of the local area leaders and trying to understand how the political
leadership works in those areas. And so, it was a really sort of natural photo. There
are a lot of reasons why I thought it was really cool. One of the big ones was that I think the juxtaposition
between me and all the other people in the photo – essentially, that was a local area
leader and pretty much like his entourage that came with him. Because a lot of people
in low-middle income countries are quite suspicious when a lot of Western researchers come. And
I think you can kind of see that in the photo, which is really cool. I think its also interesting that I’m wearing
Indian clothes and the area leader and his whole entourage is wearing Western attire.
I think that really talks to the extent to which globalization has occurred. I really just thought it just captures a lot
of what it means to do policy in other countries. You can see how chaotic it is, you can see
definitely how guarded everyone looks. Ultimately, I think that shows the dirty work that has
to be done to get policy done. But it was definitely a difficult experience. What’s really cool about it is that I think
it has a lot of implications for a lot of developing communities around the world, even
though we’re based in India. So what I’m really excited about with this research is
if we’re able to understand how those networks work and what the potential for social mobility
is and quantify that a little bit more, we can start investing and start recommending
those governments to start investing more in their local infrastructure, and give them
some recommendations for how to do that. Hopefully in the next five to ten years, we’ll see
an uptake in these kinds of services that people in these communities are getting – not
just in India, but all over the world.

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