Community Correspondents

Devidas Gaonkar

Devidas Gaonkar

State: GOA

Devidas Gaonkar is a poet and journalist, and a proud member of the indigenous Velip tribe. He lives in a remote forest reserve not far from the beautiful and touristic beaches of South Goa.   Devidas dropped out of school in 2003 because there was no money for education, and of boredom if he had note found film-making, his passion. 

One of the earliest members of Video Volunteers, Devidas has used camera and storytelling to document the struggles of his own community against the rampages of mining, focusing on the environment, tribal rights and fading traditions, all of which found no place in mainstream media. 

He has captured the Velip community's oral stories on video to stop it from being erased in the coming future. "There are stories about jungle lore and the importance of the environment. Almost all the stories are narrated in a local adaptation of the Konkani language,” says Devidas, who has captured several of these stories on his camcorder. One of his first stories documenting his tribe's folk music - Sarantari which captures his tribe's cultural and genealogical history

Having lived in the rich surroundings of Canacona and witnessing the effect of environmental damage on the surroundings, Devidas knows the importance of environmental preservation. Asking the hardest questions when addressing the most difficult situations has not only reconnected Devidas with his community but has helped his community win some important battles. When the tribe's home, the Canacona Forest reserve's indigenous flora was under threat at the hands of the Goan Forest Department, it was Devidas's insistence for answers and action that led the whole community to join hands. In the battle that lasted one and a half years, Devidas gathered village residents, youth leaders and students and eventually won the rights to keep the indigenous flora of the forest reserve. 

Devidas mantra to bring justice to marginalised communities across the country? He says “If you or your community is suffering from any problems, come together as one and fight the problem. Become your own saviour.”

Videos from Devidas

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Susegad about the State of a School in Shambles

 
/ October 30, 2017

While the CM boasts that Goa is the richest state in India, the students in a high school in rural Cancona fear that the roof might collapse on their heads.

Keeping Indigenous Culture Alive, One Song at a Time

 
/ July 11, 2017

The Gauda community of Goa struggles to keep its indigenous culture from eroding in the face of imposed cultural practices and looks at traditional music as the first point of revival.

Fishing for Green Solutions to Climate Change in Goa

 
/ June 2, 2017

Goa's locally rooted composting initiative is fighting climate change with composting.

Buried Under Red Dust: Sonshi Mining Destroys Lives and Livelihoods

 
/ May 19, 2017

As iron ore mining wreaks havoc around Sonshi, the village's residents’ rise to save their home

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The Green Guardians of Goa: A Citizens’ Movement Against a Brewery

 
/ May 8, 2017

In a tiny village in South Goa, people have come forward to protect the environment when the government is bending backwards to accommodate corporate interests.

“Only 1% of Garbage is Trash”: Clinton Vaz Shows the Way to a Zero-Waste Goa

 
/ March 27, 2017

In the latest state budget announced last Saturday, the government of Goa has promised to invest nearly two thousand crores for waste management. One man shows how, in the long run, getting the community on board is more sustainable that investing in expensive technology.

Impact

Goa Forest Warriors: A Community Guards its Forest

 
/ March 8, 2017

This World Forest Day, Goa shows India how communities can protect our precious forests

Will Floating Casinos Affect the Elections Race in Goa?

 
/ February 3, 2017

Goa goes to the polls on Saturday, with the BJP, the Congress and debutant AAP locked in a three-way battle. Although opinion polls have suggested a clear majority for the BJP, the issue of off-shore casinos just might turn out to be a spoiler. When the saffron party came to...