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

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...

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...

Take Action

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

 
/ 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 him from leading a normal life. Since he can’t use his limbs waist-down, he props his body up and walks on his hands. In fact,...

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 of us even try doing. “”I swim, climb trees, change tyres, do carpentary and electronic works, drive a car. “” Augostinho says a matter-of-factly. While...

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 story of Goa’s forest warriors. Environmentally conscious citizens of the Cancona forest live in with the nature – borrowing its produce carefully for their cattle...

Impact: Goa’s rich green cover saved by community uprising

 
/ April 22, 2016

The local residents of Goa have used traditional medicines made from various local herbs and plants found their gardens and forest to lead a healthy life. The foliage in the forest is fodder for cattle from nearby villages. The Forest department of Goa was felling indegenous trees of the local...