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Manipur, the Indian State Ruled by Korean Pop-Culture

Despite being a part of India, the northern state of Manipur can culturally be described as Korean. Ever since local authorities banned Bollywood movies and Hindi TV channels in a bid to “stamp out Indianisation”, a vast majority of the local population have turned to Korean pop-culture. They are now big fans of Korean films and music, and have adopted various elements of Korean culture. 

It all started with Airarang TV, a 24-hour network from Seoul, being broadcast in Manipur. As the channel grew in popularity, so did the demand for more programming from Korea. It wasn’t long before Korean cinema caught on as well, with pirated DVDs flooding Manipur’s markets.

To understand the Manipuri fascination with Korean pop culture, it make sense to first look at why the ban on Indian cinema was imposed in the first place. “Since the late ’90s, the people of Manipur are facing a cultural forbiddance imposed by a radical, fringe institution in the name of preserving the local culture,” writes Mahitha Kasireddi, in an opinion piece in the Indian online publication, Youth Ki Awaaz.

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Indian Woman Has Been on a Hunger Strike for the Last 12 Years

When someone famous, like the former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, goes on a hunger strike, the whole world knows about it, but Irom Sharmila Chanu, an ordinary woman from India, has been on a political fast for the last 12 years, and hardly anyone even knows she exists.

Irom Sharmila Chanu, also known as the Iron Lady of Manipur, went on a hunger strike on November 4, 2000 in an effort to  have the Government of India withdraw the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) from Manipur and other parts of India. This draconian act practically gives the military the power to do as they wish, as it prohibits any legal or judicial proceedings against army personnel without the previous sanction of the Central Government. It has taken away the people’s right to protest against atrocities or engage in any lawful democratic activity. Simple civilians can easily be labeled as ‘terrorists’ or ‘suspects’ and taken into custody. According to official figures, 25,000 people have been killed in Manipur alone, since this Act came into force, in 1980. Back then, there were only four insurgent groups in the area, now there are 25 on the army’s watch list.

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