It all started like this. During the Wikimedia session at Goa University in October 2021, it was realised that there is very little documentation about the ‘Goa Liberation Struggle’ on Wikimedia projects. So, in the meeting Prof. Vinay Madgaonkar from the Marathi language department took the lead to develop a project around this theme. The exhaustive list of freedom fighters, major incidents in history, the places related with struggle, monuments and memorials was prepared. The next day, to have a glimpse of the situation on ground, we toured a few places and monuments in South Goa. As we were shocked to see the sorry state of the memorials, we came across a monument of Govind Pundalik Hegde Desai known as Bharatkar (an editor of O Bharat), in a lush green forest near Quepem village. Being curious to know about the history of O Bharat publication, Prof. Vinay introduced us to the grandson of Bharatkar, Adv. Khagendra Desai who founded Bharatkar Hegde Desai Trust, non-profit organisation in Goa to archive the works of Bharatkar.
As both of us share the same vision, CIS-A2K partnered with Bharatkar Hegde Desai Trust, to relicense and digitise freedom fighter Bharatkar’s ‘O Bharat,’ a Marathi-Portuguese bilingual weekly, currently housed at Goa Central Public Library.
About the 36 Year Run of ‘O Bharat’ upto India’s Independence
Freedom fighter, social reformer and journalist 'Bharat'kar Govind Pundalik Hegde Desai, (7th Nov 1885 - 15th Aug 1949), started 'O Bharat' (in Portuguese) or 'Bharat' (in Marathi) on 6th November 1912. For 36 years thereafter, Bharatkar courageously protested the Portuguese occupation, relentlessly advocated radical and progressive social reforms and doggedly championed the cause of an independent and sovereign Indian Goa.
The partnerships with various stakeholders were developed after a series of discussions and official communications. The Bharatkar Hegde Desai Trust obtained official permissions from the State Government departments for the access of O Bharat volumes in the library. Goa Central Public Library provided access to the bound volumes of O Bharat and permission to scan them. Another local organisation, Bhakti Dnyan Marg Sanstha in association with Goa University Marathi Department identified few students for the digitisation.
Digitisation process and launch on Wikimedia Commons
The trustees of Bharatkar Hegde Desai Trust relicensed the two volumes of selected editorials published in 2018 and the whole O Bharat issues into CC-BY-SA 4.0. We conducted digitisation training with Prof. Vinay Madgaonkar and students, Shravani Parab and Shridhar Raut, from Goa University to scan 12000 pages in 8 days. The officials of Goa Central Public Library cooperated in access to original volumes and in the process of digitisation.
The Chief Minister of Goa inaugurated the project on Wikimedia Commons on India’s 75th Independence day, 15 August 2022. The year wise volumes of ‘O Bharat’ are now freely accessible to anyone in the world at any time anywhere. The uploading of the volumes is in progress.
The event of launching digitised content on Wikimedia was very well received by the people in Goa. The researchers, students, readers and journalists will have this reference value content while exploring the history of Goa. Various national and local media published the news covering all the aspects of this archive. The links are given below -