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

Polythene Ban? It Exists Only On Paper

 
/ November 29, 2010

Despite a ban, rampant use of polythene continues in Goa.

Flourishing Mines Devastates Farmland

 
/ November 15, 2010

Mines in Goa destroy local tribal communities’ livelihood, while benefiting a few corporations

Need To Preserve – A Tribe’s Oral History

 
/ October 20, 2010

Oral history of the forest tribes of Goa awaits documentation, revival.

Goan Island Fights Land Grab

 
/ October 4, 2010

Unholy nexus between a church and a real estate developer threatens to make hundreds homeless in Goa.

Shrines Chosen Over Shelter

 
/ August 26, 2010

Millions of rupees meant to provide basic amenities to locals is diverted to build temples by village panchayat in Goa’s Cotigaon.

Tribals PreserveGoan Craft

 
/ August 18, 2010

Coconut is used widely in Goa, but it’s only the tribals such as Gawdas who still weave mats out of coconut fronds.

Forest Tribes Lose Rights

 
/ June 18, 2010

Goa’s Velip tribal people are battling the Forest Department for the right to use their ancestral lands.

Mines Deplete Water Supply

 
/ May 12, 2010

Goa is mostly known for being a top tourist destination, but away from the coast