Shri. Shantilal Muttha was born on 15th August 1954, in Dongarkinhi, a small
village in Beed-a backward district of Maharashtra in a household with modest
means. Raised and schooled without a mother whom he lost when he was only six
months old, he had a difficult childhood experiencing the hardships that come with
a migratory lifestyle. During his stay in a Jain boarding school from Std 8 to 11th
in village Kada (dist. Beed) he closely experienced the stark social disparities and
the exploitation of the marginalized at the hands of the rich. This left an indelible
mark of anguish and compassion for the less fortunate on his young mind.
He subsequently went to Ahmednagar for his XII and Pune for graduation in
BMCC; his first major exposure to the ways of city life. He had to fend for himself
in the big city. He did odd jobs to fund his education and forged new relationships
by networking with various NGOs & by working for the Jain community.
Although after graduation he worked for different organizations he was constantly
in pursuit of identifying the means to work for social causes due to the
discomforting childhood experiences. He realized his inability to pursue his social
goals by working under other people and for other NGOs. He figured out that in
order to sustain his social work in a way and the scale at which he wanted, he had
to have his own money. Hence he resolved to start his own business to gain
financial independence for the larger cause of social development. He decided to
put his social pursuits on the backfoot till he’d acquired sufficient financial capital.
From 1978-1985 he gradually established and greatly flourished in the business of
real estate development. However at the age of 31, when he was at the peak of his
business he radically decided to pursue his heart’s calling and foray into the realm
of social development with an initial focus on family related issues. The impact of
the malaise caused by regressive, inter connected practices like dowry, female
foeticide and extravagant wedding expenditures had left deep imprints on his mind
and this area was but a natural choice for him to venture into. He refrained from
criticizing these traditional practices directly and instead chose to offer feasible,
progressive alternatives to these deep rooted traditions and social norms. In order
to champion for this cause he started an informal association Akhil Maharashtra
Jain Sanghatana to mobilize people for supporting him in the years to come. In its
wake, concepts like mass marriages, vadhu var parichay sammelans were offered
and propagated as solutions to the wrongful practices of dowry and marriage
extravaganza, similarly remarriages of widows/divorcees were brought to the fore.
In 1993 with the Latur earthquake, Shantilal Muttha ventured into disaster
response. It is then that Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana was formerly registered as an
NGO and a formalized structure of office bearers and volunteers fell into place.
Subsequently under his leadership BJS also moved beyond education rehabilitation
towards working for quality improvement in schools with a strong focus on values
His constant endeavours to delivering impactful, replicable solutions at the
grassroots over last 30 years since 1985, have brought BJS in the reckoning for its
work in social development, disaster response and education at the national and
international level. Under his leadership BJS won the 2005 WANGO (World
Association of NGOs) Education Award, the Qimpro Platinum Standard 2010 for
Education and the ICHL 2013 Award for Excellence in Humanitarian Action in the
category of Post-Disaster Relief Operations, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction,
instituted by IIM Raipur. The work of BJS during the Latur earthquake found a
special mention in one of the proceedings of the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha.
Similarly a special reference to the phenomenal work done by BJS during the J & K
earthquake was made in the Lok Sabha proceedings in a statement made by the
Ministry of Home Affairs in dated 28th November 2005.
He is a recipient of various awards for his exemplary work like the 1992 National
Youth Award from Indian Institute of Youth Affairs in honour of Late Indira
Gandhi, 1996 'Yuva Pune Gaurav Puraskar' given by Yuva Bharati, Pune at the
hands of Mr.T.N.Seshan, 1998. Diwaliben Mohanlal Mehta Award from the
Diwaliben Mohanlal Charitable Trust at the hands of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
and the Life-time achievement award , 2012, instituted by CREDAI. He also
received ' Rajiv Gandhi Manav Seva Puraskar' at the hands of our Hon. President
Shri. Ramnath Kovind in 2017. He also Awarded 'Lokmat Maharashtrian of the
years ' 2018.