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.

A proud member of the indigenous Velip tribe, Devidas dropped out of school in 2003 because there was no money for education. But with his mettle and energy, lack of education didn't deter him from progress. He calls himself a Janta ka Journalist, people’s journalist,and is one of the earliest members of Video Volunteers. Devidas has used the 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 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. He has written two books in Konkani language chronicling the stories, heritage and philosophy of his tribe, the Velip.

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

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...

/ 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...


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...

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Lack of legs doesn’t stop this man from climbing stairs to...

/ December 13, 2016

Augostinho was a toddler when a wrong medical diagnosis left his legs in pain, and shortly completely immobile. However, the unfortunate incident did not limit...

Disability doesn’t hinder your ability to achieve

/ December 13, 2016

“Since he can’t use his limbs waist-down, he props his body up and walks on his hands. In fact he does much more than most...

The Goa Forest Warriors: Community Action stops destruction of indigenous forest

/ December 13, 2016

When the Forest Department of Goa started destroying the natural forests, the local tribal communities united to protect the forest and succeeded. See the extraordinary...