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 feticide 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 education.
His constant endeavors 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.