A closer look at the ‘Gaonkaries’ in Goa
‘Goan Village Communities’, a well researched book about the Gaonkari system in Goa offers a deep understanding about said communities and land laws. The book, authored by Fr Visitacao B Monteiro, was released recently
With detailed research on the village communities in Goa, Fr Visitacao Monteiro has come out with a book titled, ‘Goan Village Communities’ that speaks about the Gaonkaris. Its release took place at the hands of the Chief Guest, Professor Prabhakar Timble, a thinker who is known for his writings; he is also the former State Election Commissioner of Goa. Also present at the book launch were Hector Fernandes and Dr Andre Pereira, an advocate for land rights in Goa, who was a great help to Fr Visitacao, sharing his knowledge about the land laws in Goa, along with Hector. Fr Visitacao says that Hector, as a geologist, has worked in the Communinades and has good knowledge about it, which he shared while writing the book. Celsa Pinto, a noted personality in the educational sector and author of several books, and Fr Mossein Athair, close friend of the author, also a writer and a strong supporter of the Konkani language, were also present.
Fr Visiticao, the author of the book ‘Goan Village Communities’, is a Diocesan priest, writing and working for the better of Goa. He is observant and critical by nature, and has written many articles for various newspapers, which are related to spreading awareness. He has a thirst for research and has worked on everything that affects Goa and its people, currently doing research on migration of Goans outside Goa. Highlighting the contents of the book during the release function was journalist Sigmund D’Souza: “For the benefit of the common man, the most beautiful thing that Fr Visitacao has done through this book is that he has written in a simple language, making it easy to understand.”He added that the book covers various aspects such as the customs and usage of the previous autonomous communities, called ‘Communidades’ today. Mentioning the fact that textbooks of schools have inaccurate information about the ‘Communidades’ being formed by only one caste or community, Sigmund said that the newly launched book does not agree to that. “There exist communidades belonging to all castes in Goa, so it is not right to say it was formed by a certain caste,” he said. The book mentions the present scenario of the community lands being sold, stating the truth that community land cannot be alienated or sold as no person holds land by state land tenure. Sigmund said, “It is a bitter truth for many, especially for the Goans abroad, who want to sell off their land for the sake of money.” He elaborated on the fact that Goa’s village communidades distributed the land among the native Gaonkars, becoming the co-owners of the land, because of which, the land can never be sold. Without admonishing anyone, Fr Visitacao, the author of the book, has very beautifully pinned down these truths. Another thing the book talks about is the threat of losing Goa’s ecology, the way of life, and also the identity of these Goan village communities. “The Gaonkaris existed from time immemorial and were not formed by any ruler or state so as to allow the state legislature to amend or frame laws for them,” Sigmund said. Very subtly, Fr Visitacao has mentioned everything of importance to the Goan people, so that they can be aware of the truth and act accordingly, he added. Also speaking on the occasion, Fr Visiticao said, “I wish for the peopl of Goan to read my book and think about the customs, cultures, lifestyle, lands and identities that we Goans are losing, and take a step towards the betterment of Goa.”
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