'First Hand: Exclusion' – The Graphic Adaption of the 'India Exclusion Report'
Panel:Adaptations of South Asian Narratives Across Time and Space
The graphic anthology ‘First Hand: Exclusion’ (2018) is an adaptation of one of the ‘India Exclusion Reports’ (IXR), published annually by the Centre for Equity Studies (CES) in New Delhi. In the Reports experts from different fields present us with detailed academic studies on the mechanisms and consequences of exclusion in contemporary India with regard to a variety of public goods, highlighting selected vulnerable groups like single women, survivors of ethnic or communal violence, or the urban poor. ‘First Hand’ takes up the issues presented in the IXR 2015 in eight graphic narratives created by diverse writers/artists; each narrative is supplemented by a brief summary of the report’s findings. The anthology is in line with the recent trend of turning reports into graphic narratives in order to make the information and data more accessible to a general public. ‘First Hand’, however, stands out because it not only turns words into images but also fact into fiction.
In this paper I want to look at the multiple processes at work when the Report’s raw information is interpreted by a new team of narrators. How does a change of mode (verbal into visual), genre (report into story, poem, or infographics), medium (digital into print) and, in two cases, language (English into Hindi) impact upon the message conveyed? To what extent does ‘First Hand’ add new information and new perspectives to the IXR’s findings? Does the anthology help to tap into a new audience? Answers to these questions will allow us to assess the gains and losses that occur when re-reading a fact-bound report through visual adaptation.