By Robin Gomes
A Catholic bishop serving in a corner of the remote north-east Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, was honoured on Friday with the Bharat Gaurav (India Pride) Award in a ceremony in London in recognition for his contribution in the field of education, healthcare, culture, environment and development of the local people.
Sanskriti Yuva Sanstha, an NGO with the vision of promoting Indian culture and society, honoured Bishop George Palliparambil of Miao Diocese with the Sixth Bharat Gaurav Life Time Achievement Award at the prestigious House of Commons in the British Parliament.
Born in southern India’s Kerala state, Bishop George has been working in northeast India for over 40 years. He is the first bishop of Miao Diocese, created in December 2005.
The colourful ceremony was graced by eminent personalities from around the world.
The 63-year old Salesian of Don Bosco bishop, the first Catholic bishop to receive this award, was among 20 who were honoured at the April 13 ceremony in the House of Commons.
Prior to the award ceremony, Bishop George moderated a seminar on “Rich Indian Culture”.
According to Suresh Mishra President of Sanskriti Yuva Sanstha, “this award felicitates people with extraordinary excellence in their fields and make India proud.”
A letter from the Award Committee said, “You are one of the iconic personalities of our nation who always encouraged each and every one to bloom into a next idol of tomorrow. You are the pride of our country and we feel privileged to inform that our Award screening committee has chosen you to reward the “Bharat Gaurav Award.”
In his award acceptance speech Bishop George underlined his lifelong commitment and concern for young people’s education and health; promotion of indigenous methods for environment conservation, and upholding of traditional tribal values of valour, dignity and honest work.
Priorities of Church
He explained to Vatican News that the first priority of the Church under his leadership in remote Arunachal Pradesh is proclaiming the Gospel “relentlessly”, along with the ministries of education and healthcare.
Another big task that the diocese is currently promoting is the preservation and protection of nature because, he said, the environment has become a “real problem” there. All these, he explained, are geared to the “all-round development of the people.”
According to the bishop, a “multi-pronged approach” is needed to preach the Gospel and promote development, keeping in mind the social teaching of the Church.
Bishop George noted with satisfaction that that Miao Diocese has a number of schools today, that are providing education to some 20,000 children. It also has a degree college and a hospital.
He said negotiations are going on with a group of priests to start also a “Christian university” and another college in the remote region.
However, the Church’s priority, the bishop said, is to provide infrastructure to all they have started, because most of the facilities they are running are in temporary shelters. This will take time.
Bishop George also underscored the need to train local teachers for schools and staff for healthcare facilities.