Shantha Sinha: Advocating for the Rights of India’s Children
Shantha Sinha, a prominent anti-child labour activist in India, has devoted her life to championing the rights and well-being of children, earning recognition and accolades, including the prestigious Padma Shri award.
Early Life and Education
Born on January 7, 1950, in the Nellore district of coastal Andhra Pradesh, Shantha Sinha received her early education at St. Ann’s High School in Secunderabad, laying the foundation for her future endeavours. She pursued higher education, earning a master’s degree in political science from Osmania University in 1972. Driven by her thirst for knowledge and commitment to social change, she completed her doctorate at Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1976. Joining the faculty of the University of Hyderabad, she later became a catalyst for change.
A Visionary in the Fight Against Child Labor
Shantha Sinha’s remarkable work in child rights and anti-child labour activism includes establishing the Mamidipudi Venkatarangaiya Foundation (MV Foundation) in memory of her grandfather. MV Foundation has played a pivotal role in rescuing and rehabilitating child labourers, providing them with education and a brighter future.
Beyond MV Foundation, Sinha served as a professor in the Department of Political Science at Hyderabad Central University, merging her academic background with a passion for social change. Her comprehensive understanding of child labour issues reflects both her activism and academic insights.
Honoured with the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 2003, Sinha guided the people of Andhra Pradesh in eradicating child labour and ensuring universal access to education. The Padma Shri, awarded by the Government of India in 1998, along with the Albert Shanker International Award (1999) from Education International and the Hyderabad Women of the Decade Achievers Award for Social Service, further underscore her exceptional dedication to improving the lives of India’s children.
A Trailblazer for Child Rights
Shantha Sinha’s activism significantly reduced child labour in around 1,200 villages of Ranga Reddy district in Telangana. Her extraordinary impact spans generations of children who have benefited from her unwavering commitment to their welfare. Recognising her contributions, the Government of India appointed her as the first chairperson of the newly formed National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
As the chairperson of NCPCR, Sinha advocated for amending the Child Labor Act to include adolescent labourers. Collaborating with fellow child rights champions like Yogesh Dube and Neela Gangadharan, she addressed the pressing issue of child labour on Anti-Child Labor Day, highlighting her steadfast commitment to the cause.
Shantha Sinha’s journey, transitioning from academia to a leading child rights activist, and her pivotal role in combating child labour in India showcase her indomitable spirit and enduring dedication to creating a better future for the nation’s children. Her legacy will undoubtedly inspire future generations to stand up for the rights and welfare of the most vulnerable among us.