Benjamin Chinnappan has devoted his life to serving India's poor. He established Dalit Solidarity, Inc. to promote justice and equality for all Indians, working toward the realization of his dream of a "caste-less" Indian society.
Ben was the youngest of eight children born to a Dalit family living in severe poverty in southern India. At age twelve, he joined the seminary and 13 years later, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest. His vocation eventually brought him to the United States, where he works as a hospital chaplain for the Veterans' Administration.
Fr. Ben's experiences growing up as a Dalit in rural India caused him to become an ardent egalitarian, committed to the principles of justice and equality for all Indians, regardless of caste, race, gender or religion. He has continuously advocated for the proposition that India's caste system is a human rights atrocity that cannot and should not be tolerated, and has spent his life working for its abolition.
Keenly aware of the critical role of education in the advancement of any oppressed population, Fr. Ben has worked diligently to provide Dalit children with opportunities for a quality education. Seven years ago, he opened a school for sixteen students. Today, Dalit Solidarity educates several hundred children beginning in elementary school and continuing through graduate school.
Fr. Ben is also a strong believer in the proposition that quality health care is a right that should be available to all people, regardless of their economic status. Under his direction, Dalit Solidarity has sought to provide affordable health care to all Indians, especially the women and children.
His philosophy that everyone should have the opportunity to earn a living based upon their abilities, rather than upon their caste, gender or religion, has prompted Fr. Ben to initiate various economic development programs. In particular, he has endeavored to provide Indian widows with the opportunity to become productive members of Indian society.
Fr. Benjamin Chinnappan's compassion for his fellow Dalits, and his vision of an Indian society in which everyone is treated with dignity and respect led to the creation of Dalit Solidarity, a non-profit organization that like its founder, works to provide justice and equality for all Indians.