A doyen in social service, Shantaram Siddi has done remarkable work for the welfare of many vanavasi communities all over India. He has been the member of Western Ghats Conservation Task Force, Konkani Sahitya Academy, and a dedicated Karyakarta of Vanavasi Kalyanashram since 1989.
Sri Shantaram Siddi, a social activist, an eloquent speaker, an environmentalist has been nominated to the Karnataka Legislative Council. He is the first from the Siddi community, one of the most backward tribes of the state to be attaining this new responsibility. Sri Shantaram has done remarkable work for the welfare of many vanavasi communities all over India.
Coming from a family with a poor economic and social background, pursuing education was not easy for Shantaram ji, but his determination and interest led him to become the first-ever graduate of the entire Siddi Community. Although he had many job opportunities, Shantaram ji plunged into social service under the guidance of his mentor Sri Prakash Kamat.
Prakash ji once asked him “You may get a good job and comfortable life for yourself but what about the community of yours? The Siddis, don’t you want them to be in the mainstream?” This motivated Shantaram ji to work for the welfare of tribal community.
Shantaram ji has been associated with Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram since 1989, working for the welfare of Janjati (tribal) people. He has worked extensively for the upliftment of Siddis, Gaulis, Lambanis, and many other tribes. He actively participated in many environment-conservation movements like Appiko Movement, Bedti River Valley Conservation Movement, and Vraksha–Laksha Andolana.
Apart from that, Shantaram ji has also contributed to the research on the uses and applications of medicinal plants, under the guidance of Dr. Yellappa Reddi.
He was the member of Western Ghats Conservation Task Force, appointed by the Government of Karnataka. He was also a member of the Konkani Sahitya Academy. He joined Vanavasi Kalyanashram in 1989 as a Karyakarta, served as hostel warden and today he is the Secretary and Pranta Hitraksha Pramukh for the organisation.
In 2018, Shantaram Siddi had spoken to the Organiser on the occasion of 'International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples' and said that "The word ‘Adivasi’ itself is wrong. We must use words like Janjati, Budakattu, Girijana or Parishishta Pangada, which better reflects our status and ethos. Adivasi was coined as a conspiracy to divide us and separate people from each other. We are all one people", he had told.
Today he has been elected to the Upper House in Karnataka, a first for the Siddi community.
(News source: VSK Karnataka)