Efforts similar to Bishop Pallipparambil's are taking place elsewhere in northeast India, such as in Jharkhand state where a significant tribal population still exists.
"You have a situation where there's a large population of tribal people the Church has been working with for now decades. And the Church has made a very great impact on all societies," Edward Clancy, director of outreach for the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need, told CNA.
These areas are considered protected by India's government, purportedly to preserve the character of the tribes and the local environment. Yet in reality, it has been the Church that has provided much-needed education and medicine to an area that was almost 100 percent illiterate.
There is now over 67 percent literacy in the Miao diocese, Clancy said; the tribal wars have stopped there, and missionaries have taught better hygiene and nutrition.
Yet there remains a "very high poverty" level in the country's northeast, which is a resource-rich area. As a result, many of the tribal peoples work in extracting mineral resources for little pay, exploited by outside forces.
"Poverty is a great tool when it comes to controlling people," Clancy said of the exploitation of the indigenous peoples by outside actors. "It's a benefit to have impoverished, illiterate people with no hope, because it's cheaper, easier."
In addition, Hindu nationalists have gained greater political power in India in recent years with the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party, and with it a rise in Hindu extremism.
More party members are now saying the converts in the northeast should be Hindu rather than Christian, since they lived in India all along and the Christians are a minority religion. Several states of India have laws regulating religious conversions, and Arunachal Pradesh is one of those states.
In addition, violent attacks against Christians and other minorities in India by Hindu extremists have increased in recent years, as a means to intimidate religious minorities and keep them poor and marginalized in India's caste system.
"More than 1,000 attacks on Christians were reported between the beginning of 2017 and the end of March 2019," according to ACN.
In September, a Jesuit school and hostel in Jharkhand that ministered to tribal students was brutally attacked by a mob of Hindu extremists. Two tribal students were severely beaten and property and buildings were destroyed or vandalized.
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This incident was just one in a recent series of attacks on Christians, Muslims, and others in India by Hindu extremists. Amidst the economic and religious tensions in India, "you have kind of the perfect mix" for attacks such as these, Clancy said. They occur with impunity, as the government simply ignores them or doesn't take action, Clancy said.
In the wake of the attack in Jharkhand, the school appealed to local and regional authorities, pleading for action to be taken.
Thus, a snapshot of remote northeast India shows yet another example of the Church reaching to the peripheries of society – and the challenges that lie ahead for the protection of indigenous peoples from exploitation by public and private powers.