Aware, Awake & Arise: Issues that concern the region

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Czech aid for Meghalaya

The Czech Republic has shown keen interest in investing in Meghalaya and tap its hydel power potential and aviation links. A Czech business delegation, led by its ambassador to India, Hynek Kmonicek, met local entrepreneurs and state government officials and offered help in developing the state’s potential in generating hydel power.

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Four-Laning of East-West Corridor in Assam

The work on stretch of East-West corridor from Srirampur to Silchar in Assam has already commenced and the overall progress of the project is 22 %. No stretch of East-West corridor is located in any other State of North East.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

49% in state below poverty line, says Meghalaya CM

By Tilak Rai
Meghalaya Chief Minister Donkupar Roy rued that around 49 per cent of the state’s population is below poverty line and about an equal percentage of educated youth are unemployed.

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Five-star hotel-cum-casino to come up in Sikkim

The tiny north-eastern state of Sikkim is all set to roll its roulette and is gearing up to give Nepal a run for its money, literally. Along with its virgin forests, lofty mountains, mystic valleys, lush green landscapes and spectacular mountain rivers, the Himalayan kingdom is now all set to welcome visitors with state-of-the-art world class casinos."The state government has given nod to Park Sarovar Plaza Group of Hotels to set up a five-star hotel-cum-casino in Gangtok. The project is likely to be completed in this year only," says G P Upadhyaya, commissioner-cum-secretary of the department of tourism, Sikkim.

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US faculty for Shillong IIM

The new Indian Institute of Management in Shillong could become the first among the premier B-schools to hire foreign faculty to boost its brand value as it debuts this year.The HRD ministry has allowed the Shillong IIM to hire foreign experts who will teach “specific subjects” included in the institute’s curriculum, government officials said.Similar proposals from the existing six IIMs are also being studied by the ministry.Fears of a shortage in quality Indian faculty led to the IIM’s decision to look for teachers outside the country, institute sources said.

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Guwahati-Tawang helicopter service launched

With an aim to boost tourism and handicraft industry in Tawang, a daily helicopter service between the Buddhist centre in Arunachal Pradesh and Guwahati was flagged off on 29th June.

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Hybrid plant for Tripura

Tripura has set up the first “solar-wind hybrid power project” in the Northeast. The project has the capability to generate 2KW of power, and will utilise solar power and wind energy on a 50:50 basis to produce it.

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Sikkim govt scraps three more hydel projects

After discarding four hydel projects in March, the Sikkim government has scrapped three more such projects in the state accusing private developers of delaying execution of their contracts, a top government official said on Thursday.

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Centre approves agri varsity, NIT in Meghalaya

The Centre has given clearance for setting up of a Central agricultural university and an NIT in Meghalaya, giving a boost to the state's education sector.

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Indian researchers examine genetic status of Arunachal Pradesh tribe

A new study by researchers at the Indian Statistical Institute has examined for the first time the genetic status of sub-tribes of a Tibeto-Burman-speaking tribe of Arunachal Pradesh in north-eastern India. North-east India has always been a hotspot for population geneticists due to its unique, strategic geographic location and the presence of linguistically, culturally and demographically diverse populations practicing varied occupations. There are an estimated 532 tribal communities who inhabit the different geographical regions, who vary in their morphological features and ethnic origins of varied cultural features and who belong to three linguistic families.

India Plans 310 Billion Rupee Spending to Build Northeast Roads

By Bibhudatta Pradhan
India plans to invest about 310 billion rupees ($7.2 billion) by 2012 to build roads in the nation's northeast, improving connectivity with the states bordering China, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. The government will also build airports and railway links to all state capitals of the region, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, inviting private investment in the region.

Three in race for North-East airline

Apart from Alliance Air, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Air India, two other companies — Universal Empire and Ace Airlines — have submitted offers to run the new airline.The winning bidder will be eligible for subsidies from the North Eastern Council. The new dedicated regional airline is expected to start operations by the end of this year.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

NE States asked to design special packages

Switching on to the second phase of the plan to market the North-east as tourist destination, Minister Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Mani Shankar Aiyar said that the States should prepare attractive packages to woo Central Government employees. Talking to this newspaper on the sidelines of the UPA’s fourth anniversary celebrations, Aiyar said that he has advised all North Eastern States to prepare a special designed package for the Leave Travel Concession (LTC) travellers.

IIT-G expects to moot plan for North-East development

IIT-Guwahati is expected to come out with a plan to improve the economic condition in the north eastern region, said Assam governor Lt Gen (retd) Ajai Singh on Friday.
The plan would transform agricultural practices and technological solutions, improve productivity and reduce waste, said Singh in his address at the 10th convocation of the IIT-G.

Mizoram to set up northeast India's first SEZ

By Sujit Chakraborty
Mizoram will set up northeast India's first Special Economic Zone (SEZ). "We have already started the process to establish the SEZ at Khawnuam village in Champhai district bordering Myanmar," said Chief Minister Zoramthanga.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tourist inflow in Sikkim up 10% in 2007

The tourist hub of Sikkim has witnessed about 10 per cent rise in domestic tourist inflow in 2007. An estimated 351,000 visitors visited the picturesque state in 2007 compared with 322,000 in 2006, a rise of about 10 per cent, tourism department sources said. Of the 351,000 tourists visiting the state last year, 331,000 were domestic visitors, while the number of foreign tourists stood at 19,844.

Identity tags for mithuns in Arunachal

Believe it or not, 95 per cent of the quarrels — at times bloodbath — in rural Arunachal Pradesh is over the ownership of mithun (bos frontails) — the state animal considered to be a symbol of wealth. One man’s effort to stop the bad blood has resulted in a unique project in the state — implanting microchips to identify the animals.

Comprehensive Action Plan To Fight Manipur Militancy

With the northeastern state of Manipur becoming a lawless region as militants wreak havoc, the central government has called for a 'comprehensive action plan' to fight militancy and suggested stern action against lawmakers hobnobbing with militants.A high-level central team led by union cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar reviewed the worsening security situation in Manipur for two days in capital Imphal and admitted there were problems plaguing the state.

Zubeen Garg: Assamese singer and composer

The year 2008 is extremely crucial for Assam’s heartthrob singer-composer-actor Zubeen Garg, who two years ago hit the top of popularity charts with the chartbuster song Ya Ali... from Anurag Basu’s Gangster. And he knows it. This is the year which will see the release of his most ambitious work in Hindi, an album titled Pakeeza.

NE seeks power priority from Central units

By R Dutta Choudhury
The North Eastern states today demanded that the states of the region must get priority in allotment of power generated in the stations being set up in the region by Central Government organisations. The States have also called for substantial Central investment in improving the inter-state transmission lines in the region for evacuation of the power to be produced in the projects.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

State Institute of Rural Development

Arunachal Pradesh
State Institute of Rural Development,
ESS Sector- Behind Department of Rural Development
Itanagar, - 791 113
Arunachal Pradesh
0360-2216911-TEL-FAX [O]
0360-2213054/2213049 [O]
09436040022 [M]


State Institute of Rural Development
G.S. Road, Khanapara,
District Kamrup
Guwahati – 781 022
0361-2332138 (D)
0361-2335154/ 2521572 (O) 2337466/2333496 (F)
Resi: 0361- 2544372 / 2548293 / 2260166 (Fax)


State Institute of Panchayat Raj & Rural Development,
Imphal – 795 103, Manipur
0385-225853 (F)/ 2445469(T/F)
094360-27064 [M]
0385-2449924 (Mon. Cell)
094360-23671 (Mr. Masud)
094360-41230 (Mr. Arun)


State Institute of Rural Development
P.O. Umaim Barapani
Nongsder – 793 103
2505646 / 2243997(R)
2570393 /2225978 (F)
094361-12993 (M)


State Institute of Rural Development
Kolasib -796 081.
Kolasib District
03837-221521 (O)
221522 (R)
2340978 / 221521 (F)
094361-43053 /094361-56032 [M]

State Institute of Rural Development

Below Civil Secretariat, Thizama Road
Kohima – 797 004
0370-2270935 /2270936 / 2270356 (O) 2224069(F) / 2222016(R)
Mr.Yangthang – 2224255 (O)
094360-00483 (M)

State Institute of Rural Development
Jorethang, Karfectar- 737 121
South Sikkim
03595- 276527/257251 (O)
276527 (Tel Fax)
094343-38830 (Dir. Mobile)


State Institute of Public Admn. Rural Development
PO: AD Nagar, Agartala – 799 003
Tripura West
0381-2230613 (O)
2374048/2374326 (O)
2324013 (F) 2230613/2374326 (TeleFax)

Alcohol the biggest 'killer' in Meghalaya

As many as 104 alcohol-related deaths have been reported in Meghalaya in 2007. Health officials here said of the deaths in 2007, most of them are youths. Ironically, majority of the people taking to alcohol are government servants engaged in "white-collar jobs," the officials said.

Czech aid for food industry, airports in Meghalaya

Czech Republic will provide assistance to set up food processing units and mobile airports in Meghalaya. Czech Ambassador Dr Hynek Kmonicek on a visit to Meghalaya said that he had meetings with Meghalaya Government on the country’s expertise in setting up mobile airports that can be transported in trucks and ideally suited for hilly terrains like Mizoram and Meghalaya.

Now, train to be flown to Arunachal Pradesh

By Rahul Karmakar,
Barring sparsely used metre gauge branch lines touching its border with Assam at Bhalukpong and Murkokseleng, Arunachal Pradesh has no railway tracks. But that has not stopped the railway ministry — with help from the defence ministry — from planning to airlift a train to Itanagar much before it is put on India’s railway map.

Efforts to preserve traditional music of Manipur

To preserve Manipur's traditional music, an NGO has taken upon itself the task of setting up an indigenous tribal orchestra. "The main purpose is to maintain old music forms of different tribes and to encourage young artistes in the field of traditional and old music forms," said Nameirakpam Tiken, Director of Progressive Artiste Laboratory (PAL).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Zoom Developers to set up hotel management institute

Zoom Enterprises, will enter the education sector by setting up a hotel management institute in Arunachal Pradesh. “Arunachal Pradesh is paying special attention to tourism education, taking steps to promote it by public and private partnership. We wanted to explore the opportunities in this untapped market,” Zoom Developers CEO Rumneek Bawa told IANS Wednesday.

Jobless Mizo youths fall prey to racketeers

Increasing joblessness has made the educated Mizo youths vulnerable to human trafficking, a growing menace in economically backward regions of the world, says a Human Rights and Law Network report.Concerned over this issue, the Aizawl-based Human Rights Group on Saturday filed an FIR with the Aizawl police against an Aizawl-based job consultant Dynamic Consultancy.

Standard Chartered Bank celebrates 150 years in India

Standard Chartered is setting up a $500 million microfinance facility that will touch an estimated 4 million people in emerging markets. In India, we will partner with more than 20 microfinance institutions by December, extend operations to the North and North East, which are relatively untouched by the banking industry, and extend our strong capital market capabilities to microfinance institutions.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Tripura tea finds flavour in Middle East markets

"With 58 big tea estates, Tripura accounts for 1% of the country’s tea production, which in 2007 was 8 million kg. Tripura’s tea exports, especially to countries in the Middle East have registered a sharp increase. Manu Tea Factory, member of the Tripura Group of Gardens, exported 98,000 kg tea to Iran and will soon be exporting to Kazakhstan in central Asia."

Identity, insurgency and development: The Naga case

By Sajal Nag
"The Naga struggle for sovereignty has been the first and longest of the secessionist turned insurgency movements in South Asia which had posed the foremost challenge to the nascent Indian nation-state. At the core of the Nagas self assertion was the question of its identity. Nagas defined themselves as a separate nation as opposed to the Indian nation and demanded the right to self-determi-nation. When it was not granted to them, they appropriated the politics of secessionism to achieve the goal of Naga nation-state."

Arunachal’s tourism potential untapped

By Sanjoy Ray
"Two of the most captivating tourist spots in Arunachal Pradesh have both been renamed after Madhuri Dixit, one time Bollywood diva, after she shot for Rakesh Roshan’s blockbuster movie Koyla there in the year 1997. But, in spite of showing such a gratitude to Bollywood, India’s film industry continues to ignore the locales for ten long years thereafter."

AIDS claims 150 lives in Mizoram, legislators worried

"At least 150 of the 235 people identified as having AIDS have died in Mizoram since 1990, a meeting of legislators forum on HIV/AIDS was told."

Universities in North East India


Arunachal Pradesh






  • Sikkim-Manipal University of Health Medical & Technological Sciences, Tadong
    Website :
  • Sikkim University (Central University)


Usefi says lowest number of scholars, applicants in the East

"The eastern region, Kolkata included, has the lowest number of Fulbright and Humphrey scholars in the country, said authorities of the United States Education Foundation in India (Usefi) in the city today. Eastern India also has the lowest number of applicants for world-renowned research grant Fulbright Scholarship. Usefi officials attributed this to “a singular lack of ambition” among people of eastern India in general and Kolkata in particular."
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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Identity Concerns Impedes Governance In India’s Northeast?

By Rajesh Dev
"In the context of Northeast India, it is the dilemma between these two meanings of “identity’ that perhaps also motivates the need for our concerns in addressing the issues. While we appreciate the embedded nature of our social identity and its positive advantages, we are also conscious of the ethnocentrism and social polarization that emanates from an essentialist awareness of “identity” in this region. The assumed question that is latent in the motivation of our concerns is whether such embedded notions of community and their politicised character are impediments to ‘governance’; and whether engendering an individual political subjectivity would aid the process of unhindered governance."

Tata Tele to invest Rs 5 bn in North-East and Assam

"Tata Teleservices, India`s No. 2 CDMA mobile telephone service provider, announced its alliance with the Assam Small Industries Development Corporation (a Government of Assam Undertaking) to seek, share and offer exclusive knowledge, competence and support to each other, their constituents and partners, and develop a mutually rewarding and successful relationship."

Thirteenth Finance Commission holds its deliberations in North East

"The Thirteenth Finance Commission held its meeting with economic experts and administrators of the country under the chairmanship of Dr. Vijay Kelkar, in Shillong today. Members of the Commission, Dr. Indira Rajaraman, Prof. Atul Sarma and Dr. Sanjiv Misra had detailed discussions with the various invitees which included Dr. Barthakur, Member, NEC, Shri Falguni Raj Kumar, Secretary, NEC, as well as economists and experts such as Prof. K.C. Boraha, Prof. H. Goswami, Prof. M.P. Bezbarua, Prof. Keya Sengupta, Prof. J.K. Gogoi, Dr. S. Borbora, Prof. Amar Yumnam, Prof. E. Bijoy Singh, Dr. Priyaranjan Singh, Prof. L. Tombi Singh, Prof. David Syiemlieh, Dr. L.S. Gassah, Prof. B. Mishra, Prof. Lianzela, Prof. A. Agarwal, Prof. M.K. Sinha, Dr. K.Z. Ovung, Dr. Paromita Saha, Dr. A. Sinha, Prof. Tamo Mibang, Prof. Amitava Mitra and Dr. S.K. Nayak. Dr. Jayanta Roy, Principal Advisor, Confederation of Indian Industry was a special invitee who participated in this discussion."

Government considering regional airline for northeast

"The central government is considering a dedicated regional airline for the northeastern states, a top aviation official said Thursday. According to K.N Srivastava, joint secretary of civil aviation ministry, a dedicated regional airline would boost connectivity in the eight northeastern states."

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


By Bhagat Oinam
"Manipur’s relation with its neighbouring regions can be well captured through its different phases in history. Its continuous interaction over centuries with the neighbouring kingdoms and principalities has facilitated certain mode of trade and economic ties, movement of people from one region to another, and subsequently establishing cultural transaction. Highlights of few endemic changes can be traced in the kingdom’s entry into the trade route of the colonial powers, and subsequently in becoming a constituent part of the Indian union."

Human Market for Sex & Slave?

By Vilasetuo Suokhrie
"The North East is fast emerging as the latest source of human trafficking with poverty, lack of awareness, unemployment and insurgency remaining the main causes behind it. While the situation for the entire region is highly alarming analysis of available data of women and girls go missing from Assam alone will speak volumes on the magnitude of the problem on an average 250 females adult and 200 female children go missing from Assam annually."

Human Market for Sex & Slave?

By Vilasetuo Suokhrie
"The North East is fast emerging as the latest source of human trafficking with poverty, lack of awareness, unemployment and insurgency remaining the main causes behind it. While the situation for the entire region is highly alarming analysis of available data of women and girls go missing from Assam alone will speak volumes on the magnitude of the problem on an average 250 females adult and 200 female children go missing from Assam annually."

Rural artisans find a patron in Exim Bank to tap global demand

By Anup Roy
"Exim Bank realized that artisans from north-east India creating intricately designed bamboo furniture could push their thriving business further if they could standardize their process for better scale and quality. The bank tied up with CNRI and Kolkata-based United Bank of India, which has more than 200 branches in north-east India, to bring the artisans together and train them on various aspects of production."

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Foreign NGO help for Mizoram

"Several charitable institutions, moved by the distress of Mizo villagers in the aftermath of the crop loss, will mobilise food relief for them."

Acute food shortage in Mizoram villages

By Sushanta Talukdar
"Residents of this remote village in Mizoram’s Serchhip district, about 90 km off capital city Aizawl, are facing food shortage of the worst kind, after hordes of rats destroyed their jhum paddy and other crops for the second successive year."

Assam's first tribal district with an ISO

"Karbi Anglong, an autonomous District of Assam has gained the distinction of being first District to have an International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) certificate for good governance and welfare-oriented administration in the tribal belt of India."

Plastic menace tackled in Assam

By Sandeep Chatterjee
"Guwahati is now all set to have its own Plastic Waste Management Centre (PWMC) at Borgaon, Mouza: Pub Bangsar, Hajo Circle. This centre aims not only to manage the growing plastic menace of Assam but also the entire North East (NE)."

New Year sun shines on Manipur

"Prayers for peace and protection were on every lip as violence-hit Manipur celebrated Cheiraoba or the Meitei New Year’s Day today. “I prayed to the gods to take away all the bad things from Manipur and shower all the good things this New Year,” said Rani Devi, a young housewife, after the Cheiraoba prayer ritual."
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India-Burma relations gaining momentum of its own

By Syed Ali Mujtaba
"The Indo-Burmese relationship is acquiring a positive momentum of its own despite western rights groups' criticism of Myanmar 's handling of pro-democracy demonstrations some six months back. India had rolled out red-carpet for Burmese military junta’s top leadership who were on a five day visit to India that began from April 4, 2008."

India quakes in the year of the rats

By Sudha Ramachandran
"India's armed forces, which have been battling insurgents in the northeast for over six decades, are now engaged with another enemy - rats. The rat population in the northeastern states of Mizoram and Manipur - the two states bordering Myanmar - has witnessed a massive growth. With rats destroying crops and devouring grain, the threat of famine looms over the region. Soldiers deployed in the area to fight insurgents are being called in to help the civilian administration tackle the impending crisis."
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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sikkim identifies 22 mega projects to generate 4430 MW power

"It is reported that Sikkim Power Development Corporation has identified the prospective private developers for the 22 mega projects which would generate 4430 MW of power. The total estimated cost of these projects would be around INR 25,000 crore."
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Sikkim identifies 22 mega projects to generate 4430 MW power

"It is reported that Sikkim Power Development Corporation has identified the prospective private developers for the 22 mega projects which would generate 4430 MW of power. The total estimated cost of these projects would be around INR 25,000 crore."

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Meghalaya Dy CM opposes Uranium mining

"Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister Hoping Stone Lyngdoh today reiterated his stand on opposing Uranium mining in the state even as the Centre decided to extract the ore from the Kylleng-Pyndengsohiong village. ''I will take up the matter before the Cabinet and request our coalition partners not to issue a No Objection Certificate to the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) for the mining in Meghalaya,'' Lyngdoh said."

ONGC to resume mining in Nagaland

By Amarjyoti Borah
"In 1994, the Nagaland government asked the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ongc) to shut shop in the state. Pressure from local people and militant groups had a big role in the decision. The country’s largest crude oil producer is now set to resume operations in the north eastern state. It has signed a lease with the Nagaland government to revive petroleum mining in Changpang village in Wokha district."
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Nagaland signs 2 pacts with Korean co

"South Korea-based Cona International Ltd, a consortium of investors, has signed two agreements with Nagaland government for investing in SEZ and industrial growth centre respectively."
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Meghalaya’s traditional archery competition

By Jogesh Doley
"Meghalaya, the beautiful state of the northeast with a breathtaking beauty and scenery has a lot more to offer other than its beauty. For entertainments, the state has the annual archery competition organised by the Aaphira Archery committee to commemorate the uprising of the Khasi king, U Tirot Singh against the British rule in April 1828, for the revelers to escape from the day-to-day monotony and the boredom of life."
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Infrastructure top priority along Chinese border in Arunachal

"The government would give top-most priority to building infrastructure and improving connectivity in the state, Defence Minister A K Antony said on Sunday, 6 April, as he visited this strategic valley close to the border with China."
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'A Great Disservice'

By Jaideep Mazumdar
"Be warned! Supporting the Tibetan cause or commiserating with the Dalai Lama and his followers would only encourage secessionism in various corners of India, primarily in Kashmir and parts of the Northeast. This, in effect, is what a poker-faced Prakash Karat said on the sidelines of the 19th Congress of the CPI(M) at Coimbatore. Indians who support the Tibetans, Karat argued, ought to be prepared to concede separatist demands within the country."
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Women in Meghalaya make micro credit banking possible

"Women in Meghalaya have formed the first of its kind bank in Meghalaya, a rural banking system based on the concept of micro-credit system. It is the North East Region Institute for Micro credit (NIM)-Banking Institution and Learning Centre of Excellence for Holistic Aspiration of Mothers (BILCHAM), an apex self help group (SHG) federation."
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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Vote bank politics fosters illegal migration into NE: Book

"Outwardly secular, politics in India is all about vote banks and keeping a party in power. No wonder the problem of infiltration of illegal migrants remains unresolved, threatening to snowball into major crisis, say intellectuals from the Northeast."
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Agartala to get its first train service by June

"Tripura's capital Agartala will become the second state capital in the northeast after Guwahati to come on the country's railway map by June, an official said here on Saturday."
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The Cost of Development: Ignoring international pressure, India prepares for Burmese port deal

By Nava Thakuria
"India—Ignoring continuing international pressure to enact strong economic sanctions on the repressive military junta of Burma (also known as Myanmar), India is gearing up to sign a deal to construct a port on Burma's coast intended to boost the economy of India's unstable northeast, where a secessionist movement has inspired several insurgents to declare a civil war against New Delhi."
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Helicopter service between Guwahati & Tamang to start soon

"The daily subsidised helicopter service between Guwahati and Tawang is expected to start soon, according to Civil Aviation department sources."
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Shillong set to get North East's first NIFT centre

"In a bid to give impetus to the traditional skills in the region, the National Institute of Fashion Technology will be setting up its first centre in the northeast in Shillong this year."
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Alembic plans formulations unit in Sikkim

"After Zydus Cadila and Torrent Pharma, Gujarat-based Alembic is planning to set up a formulations unit in Sikkim."
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Big catch for Meghalaya Police

By Saidul Khan
"Meghalaya police has busted the rebel camp of Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) and National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) in Wahlymbong, Jaintia Hills, killing two hardcore rebels and arresting six others. The prize catch is camp commander of Chittagoan, Riskin Phawa – the most wanted militant, who is believed to be involved in the mobilisation of cadres and serving demand notes."

Unscientific ‘Rat-Hole’ mining in Meghalaya under scrutiny

"Even as the Government of Meghalaya is on the verge of formulating the State mining policy, the outright implementation in the rich coal belts of West Khasi Hills, Jaintia Hills and Garo Hills districts is bound to encounter hurdles."
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India-Myanmar border trade all set to improve

By Ashok B Sharma
"India and Myanmar has decided to increase the border trade between the two countries which at present is limited to 22 select items. Both sides expect that the agreement on the Kaladan multi-modal transit-cum-transport project signed on Thursday night would help to increase connectivity between the two countries."

Hardy Oil & Gas and Reliance get onshore license in Assam, India

"Hardy Oil & Gas Plc., in conjunction with Reliance Industries, has gained its first license onshore India, with a 10 percent interest in an oil block in Assam, in Northeast India."
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Manipur descends into chaos and lawlessness

By Syed Zarir Hussain
"Manipur state in India's northeast is becoming a lawless region with militants threatening doctors and teachers, killing government officials and Hindi-speakers and extorting money from even temples."
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Securing India's North-East

By G. Parthasarathy
"Two major factors are crucial in the security of India's North-Eastern States. First, these States are landlocked. Their access to the sea and even trade and economic exchanges with other parts of India are thereby curtailed. Second, even access by land is often precarious, because access to these States from other parts of India is through the narrow 'Siliguri Corridor', which is vulnerable to Chinese pressure, especially as an aggressive China brazenly lays claim to Arunachal Pradesh, protesting against the visit of India's Prime Minister to that State."

The challenges of micro-finance in the north-east

By Anjali Deshpande
"The model adopted in India for disbursing micro-credit to the lower income groups through Self Help Groups (SHGs) will have to be suitably modified if the eight states of the north-east are to be included in financial services, says a recent study."
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Friday, March 28, 2008

A guided tour of 'outer' India

By Maloy Krishna Dhar
"Have you ever heard of places like Somdal, Chapkikarong, and Soraphung? To many, they might not even sound Indian. But they are areas in the Indian State of Manipur. The Indian Army and paramilitary forces took over three months (November 07 to February 2008) to partially recapture the sensitive Somdal area on the Indo-Myanmar border from hordes of Meitei (Manipuri Hindus) rebel groups."

Meghalaya to have ayurveda and homeopathy

"Institute for ayurveda and homoeopathy will be set up in Meghalaya capital Shillong. The union cabinet approved the scheme on 27 March 2008. The North Eastern Institute of Ayurveda and Homeopathy will be an autonomous organisation under the department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH). It will be built at a cost of Rs.675 million."
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NGO’s and locals oppose uranium mining in Meghalaya

"Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and pressure groups have expressed their strong opposition to the Central Government’s plan to start the uranium mining process in Meghalaya."
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Canada keen to import fruits from Meghalaya

"Canada is keen on importing fruits and their value-added products from Meghalaya, Canada's High Commissioner to India David M Malone said."

Tibet-China conflict and Arunachal Pradesh

By Rishabh Srivastava
"Recently, Indian Prime Minister visited Arunachal Pradesh. While addressing a rally in Itanagar, he said that Arunachal Pradesh is India’s land of rising sun. China lodged its protest on Manmohan Singh’s assertion over this claim of India. China has always said that Arunachal Pradesh is part of China. Officials on Indian side are numb since then over an issue, which has potential to turn into a controversy."
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Manipur steal show on Day IV: National Masters Athletic Championships

"Manipur overcame overnight leaders Tamil Nadu to top the medals tally on the concluding day of the 29th National Masters Athletics Championship at Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium in Sarusajai Sports Complex, Gauwahati."
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Manipur on top: Women football

"Manipur continued to rule the roost in women’s football in the country. By winning the 16th edition of the National Championship, annihilating Orissa 4-1 in the summit clash in Haldia, East Midnapore district, Bengal, Manipur ensured its 14th National title, the last 11 of them coming on the trot."
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Govt OKs rubber plantation, development schemes

"The government approved schemes for rubber plantation in the country and for rubber development in the north-east worth 4.13 billion rupees during the eleventh five-year plan, it said in a statement."

Analysis: Violence up in India's northeast

By Kushal Jeena
"An Indian Interior Ministry status report on internal security acknowledged that despite a massive anti-insurgency offensive, there was a sharp increase in overall violence in the country's restive northeast in 2007 over the previous year."
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Govt okays Rs. 535 cr Myanmar project to help North East

"The government on Thursday approved a Rs 535.91 crore multi-modal transit transport project in Myanmar, which India will use for improving access to the North-Eastern states."
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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mizoram faces famine after plague of rats

By Biswajyoti Das
"About a million people in Mizoram are facing famine after a plague of rats ate the region's entire paddy crop, officials and aid agencies said on Monday."
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River songs from Assam in pop avatar

"Indian folk music is changing rhythm to please the global village. Boatman’s songs and Bihu festival tunes from Assam are being reset to the beats of techno-pop and soft rock, courtesy the East India Company band. A folk-rock band from the northeastern state, it has taken the lead in changing the traditional sounds from the banks of the Brahmaputra to cater to an essentially young and uninitiated international audience."
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Death of Politics and Destiny of Manipur

By Angomcha Bimol Akoijam
"The brutal murder of the migrant workers speaks about the destiny of Manipur more than many would care to know. It is not a specific episode but something that marks the nature of our trajectory as a collective political being. It is high time for us to do some crucial soul searching."
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'Outsiders' must be welcomed

By KPS Gill
"From time to time, a rage against 'outsiders' is whipped up in different parts of the country by extremist political groupings, who then resort to varying degrees of violence against hapless innocents, ordinarily among the poorest and most vulnerable segments of the population. In the most recent wave of such violence, in Manipur, a succession of three incidents against 'Hindi-speaking' outsiders between March 17 and 19, 2008, resulted in the killing of 15 'migrants'."
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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Rodent havoc triggers food crisis in Mizoram

"Nearly 1,00,000 people are going hungry as a largely unreported crisis unfolds in Mizoram following bamboo flowering, a phenomenon that occurs in the northeast every 48 years, according to ActionAid, an international anti-poverty agency."
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Border Disputes in Northeast India: Failures of Imaginary

By: Bidhan S Laishram
"The people(s) of Northeast India have failed themselves: they are suffering from a twin inability to evolve a common imaginary and say 'we'. The consequences of this failure are the most significant cause of the turmoil in the region both in the conflicts within, and vis-?-vis the Indian state. Both sets of conflict are multi-layered and feed into each other."
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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Massacre of journalism in India

By: Nava Thakuria
"NORTHEAST INDIA has turned in to a land of happenings. From insurgency to ethnic tension and economic activities to cultural discourses, it started drawing the attention of media worldwide. The alienated region of the country has suddenly woken up to an anniversary of a massacre that took place 25 years back in Assam. A senior Indian journalist released a book on the issue in the national capital recently and suddenly a group of reporters began to pile up their reporting space with the memory of the carnage. Many of them even did not bother to check the old information, while putting those in their fresh columns (as might be nobody bothers about Northeast)."
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The magic of North East to come alive in Har Pal

"Shah Rukh Khan starrer Koyla could not do the trick, and the crew of another blockbuster of the King Khan, Dil Se - did not turn up for shooting in the region, substituting a mock setting for Assam's Lumding railway station. But now there are speculations that Bollywood would discover a new destination in the rugged and picturesque terrains of the North East once Har Pal hits the silver screen sometime in April next year."
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Northeast is reservoir of talent but needs more respect: Jahnu Barua

By Shweta Thakur
"The northeast is a reservoir of talent but it hurts when people consider the region different from India, says noted Assamese filmmaker Jahnu Barua."
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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

All The King’s Men

By: Teresa Rehman, Agartala
"Tribals in Tripura have chosen a powerfully symbolic mode of protest against their historic dispossession by outsiders. In an assertion of their claims over the state’s land, over 700 tribal families from across Tripura have “occupied” what used to be the erstwhile royal family’s property."
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Discovering Shillong

"Scotland of the East. This is the way Shillong is known as due to its striking similarity with the Scottish highlands. After a humid and wet night in Guwahati, I decided to head for the Meghalaya capital to let my hair down."
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PMO push to tender for Northeast air link

"The Prime Minister’s Office has asked the government to come out with a fresh tender to float an airline that will connect a host of airports in the Northeast."
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Imphal Sewerage Project

"The inconveniences faced by the people, due to the ongoing Imphal Sewerage Project is likely to be aggravated as there is every likelihood that work on the project may be stalled from March 5 as the contractors concerned have taken strong exception against the failure of the Government to release their pending bills."
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Arunachal fast emerging as tourist hotspot

"Endowed with a unique natural and cultural heritage, Arunachal Pradesh is fast emerging as one of the most-preferred destinations in the North-east. Tourist arrivals – both domestic and foreign – in this remote Eastern Himalayan State have witnessed a manifold increase in the past couple of years."
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Arunachal Pradesh integral part of India: Pranab

"India has "clearly" conveyed to China that Arunachal Pradesh is an "integral part" of the country, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the Lok Sabha on Monday."
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Monday, March 3, 2008

Rs 2082cr more for Northeast

"The northeastern region will have Rs 2,082 crore more than the last fiscal in this budget, a rise of about 14 per cent though indebted farmers in the region may not be celebrating."
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$10m Aussie help to prevent AIDS

"An aid of Australian $10 million along with ideas drawn from Papua New Guinea and Vietnam is helping four northeastern states give thrust to prevention and “harm reduction” of HIV/AIDs."
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Manipur tired of militancy, teachers and students call for halt

"Students and teachers in Manipur are tired of activities of militants in the State, which has affected the growth of education.The teachers say that different militant groups have been demanding money from educational authorities. These demands have resulted in shutdown of educational institutions. A five-kilometer long rally was taken out here last week by the All Manipur Recognized Private Schools’ Welfare Association and Manipur Educational Development Research Association."

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Hindi being popularised among Mizos

"Till a decade ago Mizos were not keen to learn Hindi, the national language, but with the passage of time, many are now drawn to learning it here. The Government of Mizoram has included Hindi in the school curriculum till standard seven and plans to include it till standard ten."
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Nellie revisited: 25 years on

Nitin Gokhale /Senior Editor, Defence and Strategic Affairs
"On February 18, 2008, the Delhi Press Club was the venue for a small function organised by Hemendra Narayan, a veteran reporter, who works with The Statesman in New Delhi. The Occasion: Release of a monograph on one of independent India's darkest chapters: the massacre of over 3,000 people at Nellie in Assam. Exactly 25 years to date, Hemendra Narayan and a couple of other journalists - one from Assam Tribune and the other from ABC news - witnessed the cold blooded murder of migrant Muslims by a rampant mob."
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When Generals rebirth as Governors in Northeast India

By Nava Thakuria, Journalist/ News reporter
"If a chief minister in India is identified as the head of a state government and the governors are recognized as the constitutional heads of the states. The Indian Constitution has given most of the political power to the chief minister, but the governors are also empowered with some special power under various provisions of the constitution. While, a chief minister (with his council of ministers) of a State is directly accountable to its citizens, the governors are normally made accountable to the President of India only."
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Saturday, March 1, 2008

TCS launches initiative to harness talent from North East

"Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a leading IT services, business solutions and outsourcing organisation, announced that the company had taken a new major new initiative to harness and develop the intellectual capital available in the North East of the country."
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How to fix India's troubled north-east

An article by Kaushik Basu, Professor of Economics, Cornell University.
"Tucked away between China, Burma and Bangladesh, and linked to the rest of India by a sliver of north Bengal that arches over Bangladesh, India's north-east is a region of amazing grace - charming people, ancient cultures and bountiful nature. "
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Thursday, February 14, 2008

ICT Integration in School Education: A Sociological Proposition

Otojit Kshetrimayum*

This article has been published in Journal of Indian Education. Vol. XXXIII. No. 1, May 2007.
p. 62-70.

The paper argues that sufficient considerations should be made at the socio-cultural levels in attempts at integrating ICT in school education. One of the major factors for the effective integration of ICT in school education depends on the school’s culture. This paper draws an inference from this perspective on the Computer Aided Learning programme under Sarva Siksha Aviyan in India. This paper suggests that school structures, classroom dynamics and student behaviours should be in coordination with teacher belief for effective ICT integration in school education. Long-range planning for software developers and schools of education should include a vision that nurtures decision-making and development by teachers, rather than implementing systems solely from the level of policymakers.

There have been new directions in information and communication technology (ICT) with regard to teaching and learning processes. From a pedagogical point of view, ICT appears to offer more educational benefits than other, more traditional, teaching methods. ICT can be used for simulation, visualization and modeling; as cognitive tools; as assessment tools; in wireless and computing; for e-learning environments; for facilitating learning communities; and for project work and authentic tasks. Wegeriff (2004) shows that a combination of pedagogy and software design can exploit the ambivalent nature of computers to make them serve as both interactive agents/ tutors, and as passive ‘learning environments’ within the one educational exchange.
The integration of ICT in school education as an instructional or educational technology is steadily escalating, just as it is in other sectors of society. Whereas in the 1980s the introduction of ICT was mainly fostered in the schools by a fragment of local initiatives, we find in the 1990s there has been a substantial increase of interest from policy makers, which has led to various policy actions. There are a number of arguments to support a policy encouraging the use of ICT in teaching. However, in many cases, it has been a case of fitting the curriculum to the computer rather than the computer to the curriculum.
In India, computer-aided education at the primary stage was allowed as an “innovative” activity under the District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) since 1995. Such a provision still exists under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA), which is the central government’s flagship programme for universalizing elementary education of ‘good quality’. Of late, several IT corporate houses have also initiated projects for computer-aided learning in elementary and secondary schools. Under the SSA, several states have launched meaningful programmes of computer-aided learning (CAL) at the elementary level by developing multi-media based content related to the curriculum at the primary or upper primary stages of education. However the quality is uneven and the entire effort lacks a sense of direction and purpose and a clear understanding of the future course of action (Rahman and Jhingran 2005).
Integration: A Conceptual Understanding
The integration of modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) into teaching-learning process has the potential to augment tools and environments for achieving these objectives of education and learning at schools. Using of ICTs in education means more than simply teaching learners to use computers. Technology is a means for improving education and not an end in itself. The real question must focus on integration into teaching practices, learning experiences, and the curriculum. Integration includes a sense of completeness or wholeness and incorporates the need to overcome artificial separations by bringing together all essential elements in the teaching and learning process– including technology.
Integration is not defined by the amount or type of technology used, but by how and why it is used. Technologies must be pedagogically sound. They must go beyond information retrieval to problem solving; allow new instructional and learning experiences not possible without them; promote deep processing of ideas; increase student interaction with subject matter; promote faculty and student enthusiasm for teaching and learning; and free up time for quality classroom interaction- in sum, improve the pedagogy (Earle 2002: 7). Integration of ICT or Computer Aided Learning (CAL) in school education does not mean placement of hardware in classrooms. Moreover, integrating technology is primarily about content and effective instructional practices. However, for an effective integration of ICT in school education depends on various factors like social-cultural dimensions; environmental, personal, social and curricular factors; and factors extrinsic and intrinsic to teachers. Nevertheless, ICT should improve the pedagogy. The emphasis of CAL is not just on the acquisition of knowledge in specific subjects but on helping learners to acquire creativity, curiosity, and enterprise.
Social factors affecting technology integration
Sutherland (2004) argues that much of the hype around e-learning is fundamentally flamed in that it fails to take into account the social, cultural and historical aspects of learning. The main barriers to adoption of computers in teaching and learning are not primarily technical but are organizational and social in nature. The blockages are i) lack of information on suitable materials in each discipline, and ii) unwillingness of the authorities to recognize and reward effort put into improving teaching, whether by utilizing or by producing computer based teaching and learning materials; recognition for courseware designers; suitability of existing courseware; and courseware delivery (Derby 1992).
Hung and Koh (2004) have proposed a socio-cultural framework to IT integration. They have given four dimensions for IT integration, which are inter-related and would impact efforts in it integration: school structures, classroom dynamics, teacher beliefs, and student behaviours. The first dimension- school structures- considers the school’s culture, workflow processes, which are in place, the design of the curriculum structure, reward systems, and the kinds of overarching beliefs and include physical infrastructures and designed set-ups of school buildings and classrooms. The classroom dynamics dimension includes the pedagogies practiced and implemented during curriculum and non-curriculum time organised by the school. The third dimension is concerned with the individual teacher beliefs, which strongly influence classroom behaviour and the propensity to change classroom behaviour. The fourth dimension involves student behaviours as manifested in the classroom, with teachers as either disseminators of information or as facilitators of knowledge construction. They claim that all four dimensions of the framework must be interrelated and lead to the consistent outcomes desired by the school. They further assert that consistent changes in all dimensions of the framework are necessary over time in order to see IT infused in the school. Incremental changes in any one of the dimensions may yield minimal change; whereas consistent changes at multiple dimensions of the school- from school structure to student behaviour- would yield maximal change.
Change starts with the individual teacher, who upon catching the vision is willing to take risks, to experience confrontations or encounters in rethinking teaching and learning. Integration involves preparation of the teacher, commitment by the teacher, following-up on that commitment by the support team, and resolving teacher concerns arising during the change process (Earle 2002:10). Chanlin et al (2006) have identified four factors that influence teachers’ use of technology in creative teaching- environmental, personal, social and curricular. Environmental factors are concerned with issues related to computer facilities. Personal factors are related to a teacher’s personality and beliefs. Social factors that influence an individual’s effort in the use of technology and creative teaching in classrooms also play an important role in the process and production of creative teaching outcomes. The curricular factors involve issues related to the goals and instructional setting within particular courses. These research-based findings reflect that not only creative teaching environment and personal factors influenced the integration of computer technology but also social and curricular factors surrounding teaching and learning issues. Thus we observe that the factors affecting technology integration according to Chanlin et al, i.e., environmental, personal and social, and curricular are in congruence with Hung and Koh’s socio-cultural dimensions i.e., school structure, teacher beliefs and classroom dynamics respectively.
Baylor and Ritchie (2002) examine the impact of seven factors related to school technology (planning, leadership, technology use, teacher openness to change, and teacher non-school computer use) on five dependent measures in the areas of teacher skills (technology competency and technology integration), teacher morale, and perceived student learning (impact on student content acquisition and higher order thinking skills acquisition). The degree of teacher openness to change was repeatedly found to be a critical variable as a predictor in this study. Teachers, who are open to change, whether this change is imposed by administrators or as a result of self-exploration, appear to easily adapt technologies to help students learn content and increase their higher level thinking skills. It also shows that as these teachers incorporate these technologies, their own level of technical competence increases, as does their morale. The study asserts that although administrators contribute to the positive interactions of technology in a school, of greater significance was teacher attributes.
CAL under SSA in India: A Sociological Proposition
The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is to provide useful and relevant elementary education for all children in the 6 to 14 age group by 2010. There is also another goal to bridge social, regional and gender gaps, with the active participation of the Panchayati Raj Institutions, School Management Committees, Village and Urban Slum level Education Committees, Parents' Teachers' Associations, Mother Teacher Associations, Tribal Autonomous Councils and other grass root level structures in the management of elementary schools in the management of schools. It is a response to the demand for quality basic education all over the country. The SSA programme is also an attempt to provide an opportunity for improving human capabilities to all children, through provision of community-owned quality education in a mission mode.
Glaring feature of SSA is that it lays a special thrust on making education at the elementary level useful and relevant for children by improving the curriculum, child centred activities and effective teaching-learning activities. Many argue that ICT enabled education is a possible route for improving the quality of education delivery and thereby tackling – albeit partially – the issue of drop-outs. Well designed educational content can act as an important supplement to text books and routine classroom interactions, especially using the power of multimedia and simulation to explain abstract and hard-to-understand concepts and to sustain interest and curiosity even in an otherwise dull school environment. The objectives of CAL at Elementary level under SSA are to facilitate effective delivery of curriculum content; to act as an effective supplement for teachers to improve learning levels in the school since it facilitates practical and experimental learning; to serve as a means to attract children to schools with the multimedia i.e., audio-visual form of learning on various subjects of classroom teaching and thus hold their attention, thus tackling the challenge of dropouts and achievement of enrolment.
Some of the CAL programmes under SSA in various states of India are briefly highlighted in the subsequent section.
Computer-Aided Learning in Elementary Schools (CALiES) in Assam
The Government of Assam, under the aegis of the Ahom Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Mission introduced ICTs to assist and supplement classroom transactions for improving the quality of education delivery since 2003-2004. Piloted as “Computer-aided Learning in Elementary Schools (CALiES)” in 500 elementary schools in Assam, this innovative programme has three dimensions of implementation: Multimedia based educational content, Delivery of teacher training and Provisioning of computer hardware. This programme has now been rechristened as ‘Smart Schools’.
‘Headstart’ in Madhya Pradesh
'Headstart', one of the largest computer-enabled education programmes India, is aimed at making the learning process interactive and interesting through computers. Initiated by the Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission (RGSM) of Madhya Pradesh government, this is a project essentially aimed at improving the quality of learning through the use of computers in the classroom in primary and middle schools. Launched in the year 2000 as a pilot project in about 648 schools, the programme was later expanded to over 2,718 rural schools across the state at the elementary level.
CALP (Computer Aided Learning Programme) in Rajasthan
This programme has the following approach: computer awareness and literacy among teachers and students, healthy teaching learning process through CALP, more conceptual clarity of the nstudent through CALP, re-enforcement through spot assessment of the children, and improvement in quality of education. Upto 2006-07, the programme has covered 1100 Upper primary Schools with 1.5 lakhs and 3300 teachers.
CALtoonz in Delhi
This computer aided learning through computer animations was launched in September 2005 in 200 schools of the Department of Education, Delhi. The main features of CALtoonz are content delivery through animated films (text is used only for definitions etc.), visual support, audio support, live interactive experimentation, all types of exercises in enough quantity for practice, question bank along with answers, more information provided extensively for each chapter to be based on need and educational content based games.
From the above description it can be concluded that Computer Aided Learning under SSA has been in the forefront to make teaching-learning in schools more interesting and effective. However as discussed in the preceding section, effective CAL in elementary school education depends on various social-cultural factors. One of the most significant factors is teachers’ attitude and perception. In order to further optimize learning environments in primary education, teachers should be aware of the potential of ICT to contribute to the power of learning environments and to stimulate pupil’s active and autonomous learning. Moreover, teachers’ skills with regard to the use of ICT as a means to support powerful learning environments should be fostered (Smeets 2005).
Williams et al (2000) claim that to be skilled and knowledgeable is the key to effective implementation of ICT in teaching and learning. They further add that training alone is unlikely to be effective in the development of ICT skills and knowledge, and enhanced use of ICT in schools. A more holistic approach is required comprising appropriate training, ready access to ICT resources, and ongoing support and advice to encourage progression beyond any formal training. The effect of technological innovativeness on class use of computers is more significant than personal factors such as age, gender, computer attitudes and computer experience. Teachers with a high degree of technological innovativeness also seemed to observe less organizational constraints in regards to the introduction of Computer Mediated Communication in school (Braak 2001). Informal ICT education, such as ‘just-in-time’ learning, is most influential. Furthermore, supportive and collaborative relationships among teachers, a commitment to pedagogically sound implementation of new technologies, and principals who encourage teachers to engage in their own learning are viewed as highly useful factors (Granger et al 2002).
To conclude, we can say that school structures, classroom dynamics and student behaviours should be in coordination with teacher belief for effective ICT integration in school education. Long-range planning for software developers and schools of education should include a vision that nurtures decision-making and development by teachers, rather than implementing systems solely from the level of policymakers.
Baylor, Amy L. & Donn Ritchie. 2002. What factors facilitate teacher skill, teacher morale, and perceived student learning in technology-using classrooms? Computers and Education, 39 (4), 395-414.
Braak, John van. 2001. Factors influencing the use of computer mediated communication by teachers in secondary schools. Computers and Education, 36 (1), 41-57.
Brummelhuis, A. F. and Tjeerd Plomp. 1994. Computers in primary and secondary education: The interest of an individual teacher or a school policy? Computers and Education, 22 (4), 291-299.
Chanlin, L. J., et al. 2006. Factors influencing technology integration in teaching: A Taiwanese perspectives. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 43 (1), 57-68.
Darby, J. 1992. The future of computers in teaching and learning. Computers and Education, 19 (2), 193-197.
Granger, G. A. et al. 2002. Factors contributing to teachers’ successful implementation of IT. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 18 (4), 480-488.
Hung, David and Thiam Seng Koh. 2004. A Socio-Cultural View of Information Technology Integration in School Context. Educational Technology, March-April. 48-53.
Rahman N. and D. Jhingran. 8 July 2005. ICTs for elementary education in India –Prospects and Policy Perspectives.
Smeets, Ed. 2005. Does ICT contribute to powerful learning environments in primary education? Computers and Education, 44 (3), 343-355.
Sutherland, Rosamund. 2004. Designs for learning: ICT and knowledge in the classroom. Computers and Education, 43 (1-2), 5-16.
Wegeriff, R. 2004. The role of educational software as a support for teaching and learning conversations. Computers and Education, 43 (1-2), 179-191.
Williams, Dorothy., et al. 2000. Teachers and ICT: Current use and future needs. British Journal of Educational Technology, 31 (4), 307-320.
Winnas, C. and Deorah Sardo Brown. 1992. Some factors affecting elementary teachers’ use of the computer. Computers and Education, 18 (4), 301-309.

* The author is a Research Scholar in Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Mapping Cultural Diffusion: The Case of "Korean Wave" in North East India

Mapping Cultural Diffusion
The Case of ‘Korean Wave’ in North East India
Otojit Kshetrimayum [1]
Ningombam Victoria Chanu[2]

This article has been published in Narsimhan, Sushila and Kim Do Young (ed.). 2008. India and Korea: Bridging the Gaps. New Delhi: Manak Publications.

The Korean cultural wave has been spreading since the late 1990s, starting from the neighboring countries of China and Japan. The South East Asian countries were next to be hit by the Korean wave. This paper specifically tries to explore the nature of diffusion of Korean popular culture and also its impact on North East India, particularly Manipuri society through Korean satellite channel, music and movies. The study demonstrates that the Korean wave has been an emerging phenomenon in Manipur much before the Indian government’s initiative to popularize it. It assesses the possible factors responsible for this change. Cultural proximity is one of the key factors that have explained the successful diffusion of Korean wave in Manipur. The paper also illustrates the new socio-cultural dynamics that has evolved in recent years in Manipur. Moreover, it shows that Manipur has been experiencing Korean wave with more or less the same impact like other Asian societies.

Culture is a design for living. The culture of a society is a way of life of its members. Culture is a learned behaviour shared by and transmitted among the members of a group or society. According to E. B. Tylor, culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society. The process of spread of cultural traits is termed as cultural diffusion. Cultural traits are the individual acts and objects, which constitute the overt expression of a culture.
Since 1990s a major course of cultural diffusion has been gaining ground in India. There has been a major makeover in the cultural life of the Indian society after its policies on liberalization and globalization. The North Eastern States of India are not an exception. The wave of globalization and information and communication technology revolution has also been felt in Manipur, one of the North Eastern States of India. In such a setting, this paper specifically tries to explore the nature of diffusion of Korean popular culture and also its impact on North East India, particularly Manipuri society through Korean satellite channel and movies. The study illustrates that a new wave of youth culture has surfaced in recent years in Manipur. Moreover, this paper shows that Manipur has been experiencing Korean wave with more or less the same impact like other Asian societies.
However, before we assess the case of Manipur, it is imperative that we comprehend the concept of Korean wave and its expansion in other parts of the world.

From jaebol to hallyu: An Overview
Korea first burst into the global imagination with its demonstration of industrial prowess. In one of the most astounding stories of economic development in recent times, Korea’s GNI (current US $) increased from $8 billion in 1970 to $922 billion in 2005, an increase of almost 115 times. Very quickly, Korean jaebol groups became household names all across the world. The first global hint of the softer cultural side of the Korean people emerged when Korean cultural exports became as prominent as Korean industrial exports, and everyone heard of the new word, hallyu. Very soon, the image of Korea shifted from jaebol to hallyu. However, hallyu also helped the jaebol (Madhuban, 2006).
Hallyu is a term coined by the Chinese media which literally means "Korean Wave". It is a collective term used to refer to the phenomenal growth of Korean popular culture encompassing everything from music, movies, drama to online games and the Korean cuisine.[3] Its roots are traceable to democratization, which kicked off with the South Korean elections in 1987 and the Seoul Olympics in 1988.
Korean wave was first introduced in the late 1990s in China referring to the popularity of Korean culture in foreign countries. It was initiated when the exported Korean TV dramas and remakes of pop music became popular in China and Hong Kong. From well-packaged television dramas to slick movies, from pop music to online games, South Korean companies and stars are increasingly defining what the disparate people in Asia watch, listen to and play. In Asia, ‘The Jewel in the Palace’ and ‘Winter Sonata’ is the must-see television shows. South Korea is cashing in on a marketing push that has made its soap operas and pop stars wildly popular across Asia. Following this trend, a number of Korean pop music singers and actors and actresses made their debut in neighboring countries and started gaining recognition. Since then, the Korean wave has been sweeping across countries in Asia, mainly in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and Vietnam. Actors and actresses, such as Bae Yong-Joon, Choi Ji-woo, Kim Hee-sun, Won Bin, and Jang Dong-gun are now international stars, dominating the entertainment market in Asia.
South Korea is acting as a filter for Western values making them more palatable to other Asians. From clothes to hairstyles, music to television dramas, South Korea has been defining the tastes of many Asians for the past six years. Asian viewers describe Korean dramas as energetic and exciting while maintaining traditional values. The boom of Korean entertainment has increased demand for Korean products, and more people have become interested in Korean culture and the language.[4]
The Korean wave or Hallyu has been a blessing for Korea, its businesses, culture and country image. Since early 1999, Hallyu has become one of the biggest cultural phenomena across Asia Pacific. The booming South Korean presence on television and in the movies has led Asians to buy up South Korean goods and to travel to South Korea, traditionally not a popular tourist destination. So tremendous has the Hallyu effect been that it has contributed 0.2% of Korea's GDP in 2004, amounting to approximately USD 2 billion.[5]
Hallyu is now creating a new wave, facilitating active interchanges of popular culture among neighboring Asian countries. Of late, Western observers and the international press have expressed their wonder at how Korean popular culture has become the major commodity in the Asian market. Whereas Korean culture had long remained in the periphery of Northeast Asia, hallyu has offered the opportunity to make the country an active producer of culture. Hallyu has shown a reverse route from the past flow of cultural interchange in Northeast Asia; it has not copied or followed the footsteps of Western popular culture. It has shown its capability of "cultural creations" befitting Asian sentiment and values.[6] Thus, there has been rising torrent of Korean wave in East Asia, South East Asia and also slowly in South Asia. Korean wave has also been expanding its tide in other parts of the world other than Asia.

Korean Wave in Manipur: An Appraisal
Before we delve into the assessment of Korean wave in Manipur, let us briefly examine its nature in India in general. The phases of Korean wave in India can be divided into two. The first may be referred to as Korean economic wave. It came in India with the liberalization of Indian market in the beginning of 1990s. There was essentially growing association with the Korean companies like Hyundai, LG, Daewoo, and Samsung. In following years, these companies further expanded and diversified the range of their products and became household names in India. Now there is hardly any family, especially in urban India, which does not have products of these Korean companies. With the proposal of the POSCO, a steel giant of Korea, to investment around $12 billion in integrated steel plants at Paradip in Orissa, there have been speculations that there would be increased interests of Korean multinationals in India in coming years. The POSCO investment in India would be the largest ever foreign investment in India till date and the single largest overseas investment by a Korean company.[7]
The second phase may be termed as Korean cultural wave. It has reached the Indian shore very recently as compared to some of the other Asian countries. In May-June 2006, a Korean delegation visited India, as part of its efforts to spread the Korean Wave in this country. For the very first time in India the Korean drama “Emperor of the Sea" was introduced by DD 1 on 23rd July 2006. In another move to make Indian audiences aware about the Korean cultural richness, the MBC hit drama "A Jewel in the Palace" began to be aired on DD 1 from 24th September 2006. So, the introduction of Korean dramas is part of growing interest of Indians in not only Korean economic miracle but also in the cultural traits of Korea exemplified in various TV soap operas and music. There has been growing demand in India for not only Korean language but also Korean studies in general with the growth of Korean companies in India. It is significant to note that the two phases are complementary to each other.[8]
However, in the case of Manipur the nature of diffusion of the second phase of Korean wave in India gives a different picture. Manipur felt the tide of the emerging Korean wave more or less at the same time as experienced by other Asian countries like China, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan etc. What made it possible? Many factors facilitate the foray of the phenomenon. Some of them may be discussed as follows:
Introduction of cable television network
The introduction of cable television network has played a significant role in the dissemination of culture to other societies. Manipur has experienced this process of cultural diffusion mainly through this medium. The Korean satellite channel Arirang is the harbinger of Korean wave in Manipur. Its popularity began largely due to the ban on Hindi satellite channels, which used to be the favourite channels of the Manipuris. They started to look for an alternative channel, which could give them wholesome entertainment. The search was fruitful. The popular Korean Channel, Arirang has been instrumental in bringing closer home the rich Korean culture, tradition and cuisine.
Ban on Hindi satellite channels and movies
Hindi films and Hindi television channels, except national channel DDTV, which is under the state control, were banned by one of the underground revolutionary organizations of Manipur in the year 2000. Then forth, it had been a gloomy scene for movie lovers here as cinema halls owners were forced to convert their halls into schools or shopping malls. No doubt, there has been a digital film revolution in Manipur to bridge this gap, it has been left to the films from Korea, especially South Korea and Thailand brought in through Myanmar border to win the hearts of the enthusiast crowd here with their youthful romances, thrillers and action-packed movies.
International border trade
India’s Look East Policy has opened new vistas in terms of trade between South East Asian countries and India through Manipur, an international border state with Myanmar. This has not only encouraged trade in various items but also smuggling of pirated music and movie CDs.

Cultural proximity: A key factor
The Korean success story represents the rebirth of an ancient and traditional Asian society. Its cultural roots can be traced back to both Indian and Chinese civilization (Mahbubani, 2006).[9] What made Korean popular culture boom in Manipur can be explained from the point of view of cultural proximity theory. The theory purports that media productions from culturally affiliated countries have greater reception than those from the culturally distanced countries. One of the most cited authors in current articles dealing with cultural proximity is J. D. Straubhaar. Cultural proximity is a characteristic that is predominately reflected in “nationally or locally produced material that is closer to and more reinforcing of traditional identities, based in regional, ethnic, dialect/language, religious, and other elements” (Straubhaar, 1991). [10] Moreover, he further argues that if the preference for national programming cannot be fulfilled, also products from the same region (e. g. Latin America for Mexico) can be relatively culturally proximate. Thus, the author defines different levels of cultural proximity.
Straubhaar describes shared ‘cultural linguistic markets’ (Straubhaar, Fuentes, Giraud & Campbell, 2002)[11] or ‘geocultural markets’ (Straubhaar, 2002)[12] as a premise for cultural proximity. Cultural linguistic markets “are unified by language. However, they go beyond language to include history, religion, ethnicity (in some cases) and culture in several senses: shared identity, gestures and nonverbal communication; what is considered funny or serious or even sacred; clothing styles; living patterns; climate influences an other relationships with the environment. Geocultural markets are often centered to a geographic region, but they have also been spread globally by colonization, slavery and migration.[13] Populations belonging to one market select television programs that are able to reflect the characteristics of this market.
Keeping in view of the above theoretical framework, the cultural proximity between Manipuri and Korean societies can be discerned. Manipur can trace its history back 2000 years. It is one of the eight North-Eastern states of India having a population of about 2.4 million. It has a territorial area of 22,327 sq. km out of which only one tenth is the plain areas (valley). Manipur is bounded on the east by Burma (Myanmar), on the west by the Cachar district of Assam, on the north by Nagaland and the Chin hills of Burma. Meiteilon (Manipuri), which belongs to Tibeto-Burman language family, is the state language. Manipuri society is not homogenous. The Meiteis, Nagas and Kukis are the major ethnic groups. The Meiteis constitute about 60 percent of the total population.
The Koreans are believed to be descendants of several Mongol tribes that migrated onto the Korean Peninsula from Central Asia (KOIS, 2003).[14] Meiteis are ethno-linguistically Tibeto-Burman family of Mongoloid stock (O. K. Singh, 1988; Kamei, 1991).[15] Sir Jhonstone also wrote, “Meiteis or Manipuris are a fine stalwart race descended from an Indo-Chinese stock, with some admixture of Aryan blood, derived from the successive wave of Aryan invaders that passed through the valley in pre-historic days (Johnstone, 1971: 97).”[16] Thus, the people of these two societies belong to the Mongoloid stock.
Clan communities that combined to form small town-states characterized ancient Korea. The town-states gradually united into tribal leagues with complex political structures, which eventually grew into kingdoms (KOIS, 2003: 16).[17] Various clan communities also typified Manipuri society. The various proto Meitei tribes of Manipur valley were politically and socially integrated into a political and social entity by the powerful Ningthouja (Mangang) kingdom founded by Pakhangba (33–154 AD) in the first century AD. There are now seven clans in Manipur, which are locally known as Yek-Salais.[18] These are Mangang, Luwang, Khuman, Moirang, Angom, Khabanganba and Sarang-Leishangthem (also called Chenglei) (Shah, 1994: 94).
The family name comes first in traditional Manipuri names like the Koreans. Manipuris akin to the Koreans do not refer to others by their given names except among very close friends. Even among siblings, the younger ones are not supposed to address their elders by given names but rather eche (eonmi in Korean), meaning elder sister, or eyamba (oppa in Korean), meaning elder brother (KOIS, 2003: 156-157).[19]
Sanamahism of Manipur is a counterpart of Shamanism in Korea. Sanamahism is a pre-Hindu religion of the Manipuris. It does not have a systematic structure but permeates into the daily lives of the people through folklore and customs. It incorporates a vast knowledge and philosophy about the creation of universe, earth, beings, and the life and death of people. The ritual functionaries of this religion are Maiba (priest) and Maibi (priestess). The maibas and maibis have a three–fold role, as priests and priestesses, givers of oracles, and preservers of oral tradition. In the first of these roles they offer gifts and bloodless sacrifices before the lais (deities) at various points during the festival. As preservers of the oral traditions it is their responsibility to memorize and repeat accurately the sacred lyrics of the festival, and to lead the congregational singing. The maibi’s role as medium between the living and the spiritual world is perhaps the most remarkable, and the most original and authentic. However, the main difference between the maibi and maiba is that the former is god-gifted and ordained completely while the latter is made and trained through his labour and research.
They are similar to shaman, Mudang in Korean. Both Sanamahism and Shamanism includes the worship of spirits that are believed to dwell in every object of the natural world, including rocks, trees, mountains and streams as well as celestial bodies. Till today, both of these religions have remained an underlying religion of the Manipuri and Korean people as well as vital aspect of their culture respectively (KOIS, 2003: 162-163).[20]
In Manipur, there is the close association of religion with music and dance. The distinctive approach to Manipuri culture is best seen in the fact that dance is religious and its aim a spiritual experience. Development of music and dance has been through religious festivals and daily activities of lives. Not only is dance a medium of worship and enjoyment, a door to the divine, but indispensable for ceremonies like birth of child, marriage, death, etc (M. Kirti Singh, 1988: 165).[21] Likewise, the traditional music of Korea is always a distinctive Korean voice, a voice that arises from the character of the Korean people, related to Korea’s climate and natural environment and also to religion and ideology.[22] For a better understanding of Korean music, one point that should not be omitted is that in music that is used for rituals, the cosmologic principle of the five natural elements and yin and yang play a prominent role (KTO, 2005: 26-28).[23] Maibi’s ritual dance is the foundation of most of the dance forms of Manipur like that of the shaman’s ritual dance in Korea.
There is also similar cultural trait in folk games. Ssireum in Korea or Mukna in Manipur is a traditional form of wrestling. It is a type of folk competition in which two players, holding to a satba (Korean) or khwangshet (Manipuri), a cloth tied around the waist and thigh, use their strength and various techniques to wrestle each other to the ground (KTO, 2005: 182) .[24]
The foregoing traditional cultural relations have shown that there is a cultural proximity between the Korean and Manipuri societies. The hallyu spirit is the spirit of traditional culture. Traditional culture, or cultural heritage, befits modern society and promises its future. Traditional culture manifests its intrinsic meaning as a source of power, which enables a connection between the past, present and future in the reality of daily life. Tradition is the strongest motivating power when creating a new culture.[25] This traditional cultural proximity has ultimately facilitated the immense popularity of Korean wave in Manipur along with the preceding three factors: introduction of cable television network; ban of Hindi satellite channels and movies and international border trade. In the next section, the socio-cultural implications of Korean wave in Manipur are discussed.

Socio-cultural implications
New movie cult
The ‘Hallyuwood’ movies are gradually replacing the Bollywood ones. Instead of current Bollywood favourites, it is movie names like “The Classic”, “Windstruck”, “You are My Sunshine”, “A Moment to Remember”, “Love so Divine”, “My Sassy Girl” etc., that are on the lips of the teenagers. The posters of Korean actors and actresses like Gweon Sang-woo, Cha Tae-hyun, Jeon Ji Hyun, Jung Da Bin and Song Seung Hun have replaced that of Shah Rukh Khan, John Abraham, Priyanka Chopra, Aishwarya Rai, and others. “Mostly young guys come to rent the Korean film CDs from us,” says Naoba, who is a salesman in a CD parlour at Imphal. “I like watching them as they are so cool,” says 15 year-old Marina, a Class IX student who loves watching Song Seung Hun. “It’s easy to understand the film as they’ve English subtitles,” she further adds.
Even the local cable network ISTV has been cashing in on this new flavour by telecasting these films through their network on prime time.
New youth culture
With the arrival of Arirang, its impact upon the Manipuris, especially among the youngsters has been felt in myriads of ways. For example, after watching the various Korean serials on Arirang, there is an earnest desire by the youngsters to imitate and copy everything from language, to food habit, to dress style, even the body language and some Korean manners. They have started using some common sentences used in the day to day life by the serial stars. For instance, anna saiyo (halo), sarange (I love you), watuke (what to do), waju waju (yes) etc. They begin to wish each other through Korean style. In fact, there is competition among the sibling about the knowledge of language competence. Before, hardly the youngsters knew about ‘chopsticks’, but now they have learnt to use it and some of them have food with it. Now, the traditional plate for having rice is being replaced by bowl. They have become so familiar with the Korean actors, actresses and singers that most of them know Kang-ta, Kang-Sang-Hyun, Baby Box, Boa, Jang- Nara, Che-in-Fio, Jyun-Sung etc. Some of them can even sing some of their favourite Korean singers’ songs. Rakesh, an undergraduate, says “There are many things in Korean cultural life that are shown in serials and movies, which we can relate with our own society”.
Like most of the Korean heroes, many youngsters in Manipur are growing their hair. By Ganji’s skirt, they mean the style of skirt worn by a Korean serial character called Ganji. By Kangta’s earring, they mean a particular earring worn by the singer Kangta. Among school kids and teenagers, Korean movie is one of their hot topics. Hindi movie had once occupied an immense area in the lives of the Manipuri cinegoers. However, with the ban of the Hindi movies, it is the Korean movie along with the Manipuri movie, which has filled the void. America was a dream for every Manipuri youth before, but now is slowly shifting towards Korea. “I want to learn Korean so that I can know more about their culture”, echoes Sanjana, a class XII student.
The youths have also started sleeping on the floor of their room instead of on the bed. They feel that it is so fashionable.
New business trends
These pirated films, which can be rented for as low as five rupees or ten rupees for a night are a rage with the audience. These movies come in special DVD formats consisting of around eight to nine movies in a DVD. “We make copies and either sell them or rent them out”, says Manglem, a video parlour owner at Imphal. However, there are also some dissident voices against the flooding of these movies asking for censorship. The markets at Imphal, generally known as Moreh (referring to one of the towns of Manipur in Indo-Myanmar border where most of the international trade takes place) markets, which deal with imported items from South East Asian countries through Myanmar, are flooded with pirated movie, television serial and music CDs mainly from Korea. There are also trends of making music videos of Manipuri songs using clippings from Korean movies and are then sold.
The conclusions that we can draw from the above evaluations are
Korean wave stormed Manipur more or less at the same time it started spreading to other Asian societies.
It was only on 23 July, 2006 that the first ever Korean drama was aired on India’s national television channel, DDTV. The Manipuri experience of the Korean popular culture was not under the direct initiative of the government. It is mainly through cable television network (Arirang) and pirated music and movie CDs that Korean cultural wave entrenches the heart of Manipuri society.
Factors that facilitate the foray of Korean wave in Manipur are introduction of cable television, ban on Hindi satellite channels and Hindi films and opening up of international border trade between India and South East Asian countries through Manipur.
The key factor that abets the popularity of Korean wave is the cultural proximity of Korean and Manipuri societies in terms of both being of Mongoloid stock; both societies being based on clan communities; sharing similar traditional religious structures in Sanamahism and Shamanism; similar streams of philosophy in traditional music and dance; and similar forms of folk games.
Not only the younger but also the older generations of Manipur share the same sentiments while watching hallyu dramas and films; and also identify with its dance and music. The younger generation in particular seeks to learn more about the Korean culture, traditions, language and fashion.
Hallyu can help to develop broader cultural interchange and cooperation.

The authors would like to thank Atom Sunil, G. Amarjit, A. Joy and Ph. Newton for their assistance in the writing of this article.

[1] The author is a Research scholar in Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. His major interests are Sociology of Mass Communication, Industrial Sociology and Cultural Studies.
[2] The author teaches English in Zakir Husain College, Delhi University, India. Her major interests are English Language Teaching (ELT) and Cultural Studies.

[3] Korean_brands.asp
[5] Korean _brands.asp
[8] Ibid.
[9] Mahbubani, Kishore. Op. Cit. 5.
[10]Straubhaar, J. D. 1991. Beyond Media Imperialism: Assymetrical interdependence and cultural proximity. Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 8, 39-59. See also Straubhaar, J., Campbell, C. & Cahoon, K. 2003. From national to regional cultures and television markets of NAFTA. Online document
[11]Straubhaar, J., Fuentes, M., Giraud, C. & Campbell, C. 2002. Refocusing form global to regional homogenization of television: Production and programming in the Latino U.S. Market, Mexico and Venezuela. Paper presented at the International Communication Association Annual Conference in Seoul, South Korea.
[12] Straubhaar, J. 2002. (Re)asserting national television and national identity against the global, regional and local levels of world television in J. M. Chan & B. T. McIntyre (Eds), In Search of Boundaries: Communication, Nation-States and Cultural Identities. Westport, Connecticut: Ablex Publishing.
[13] Ibid. p. 196.
[14] Facts about Korea. 2003. Korean Overseas Information Service. p.13.
[15] See O. K. Singh. 1988. ‘Aspects of Archaeology in Manipur’ in N. Sanajaoba (ed.). Manipur: Past and Present. Vol. 1. New Delhi: Mittal Publication. p. 69. & Kamei, Gangmumei. 1991. History of Manipur (Pre Colonial Period). Vol.1. New Delhi: National Publishing House. p. 21.
[16] Johnstone, J. 1971. My Experience in Manipur and Naga Hills. Delhi: Vivek Publishng House. p. 97.
[17] Facts about Korea. 2003. Korean Overseas Information Service. P. 16.
[18]These are Mangang, Luwang, Khuman, Moirang, Angom, Khabanganba and Sarang-Leishangthem (also called Chenglei). See Shah, R. Kumar. 1994. Valley Society of Manipur. Calcutta: Punthi Pustak. p. 94.
[19] Facts about Korea. 2003. Korean Overseas Information Service. p. 156-157.
[20] Facts about Korea. 2003. Korean Overseas Information Service. p. 162-163.
[21] M. Kirti Singh. 1988. Religion and Culture of Manipur. Delhi: Manas Publications.p. 165.
[22] Korean Cultural Insights. 2005. Korean Tourism Organization. p. 26.
[23] Ibid. p. 28.
[24] Ibid. p. 182.