100 years of hams – The new Indian Express
Express press service
KOCHI: Q … CQ … CQ … Someone on the frequency? I wonder if this is a secret code used by national intelligence? No, this is the general call format used by amateur radio operators around the world. Amateur radio operators or “hams” use a particular radio frequency to invite and respond. As 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of amateur radio in India, we are “ tuning in ” to some of the active hams across the state to find out how their lives have changed after tuning their frequencies with amateur radios.
For the former CEO of Technopark and Infopark, Girish Babu, being an amateur operator for more than four decades was the result of fascination and curiosity for radio. He succeeded in becoming a licensed radio amateur in 1979. With his radio call sign, VU2KGB, Girish volunteered to help in the Gulf War of 1990 evacuate Indians from the place of war using his radio network. amateur with other hams.
“The advantage of the amateur radio network is that we don’t encounter communication barriers during a disaster, because we can work independently of conventional systems, even using frequencies from satellites around the world. HF communication takes place through radio signals reflected by the ionospheric layers, which we receive and transmit using antennas placed in our stations. We can use multiple modes to connect with other hams around the world and this can be used as a source of emergency communication, ”he adds.
“It was in the early 90s when I was checking random VHF frequencies and having a few conversations near Agasthyarkoodam hill. I discovered that it was a clandestine operation perhaps by a group of militants which was installed in the area of the hill. With the help of the district collector at the time and a few other officials, the case was passed on to the head of the Defense Electronics Applications Lab, who was also a ham. As a result, a search team was dispatched by air and the illegal settlement and radio relay systems were destroyed by a commando team. Thus, being a ham gives us the possibility of engaging in national security as well, ”he added.
Fascinated by his ham operations, his wife Maya Shankar, also became a ham with the call sign, VU2CIA, in 1990. The housewife appreciates the way to connect with other people around the world and learns about cultural diversity.
“Conversations between hams don’t always have to be serious. I have my own ham friends in Germany to share recipes, discuss cultures, seasons, lifestyle and many more. Many of them have even visited our home and they love our culture and our family ties. A friend of ours, Udo Zaharonsky, who is a violinist and aerospace technician, once visited here with his partner Renate, a musician only to understand our Indian culture and the meaning of ‘family’, ”says Maya.
The possibilities for hams are vast according to Shahjahan MA, a building designer from Thrissur. Shahjahan, who is also the chairman of the Kerala Association for Disaster Management Communication, says the medium helps get along with everyone.
“Hams are treated as equals, regardless of their social status. We have hams like actor Mammootty, Charu Hasan, Loknath Behera and the former King of Jordan, King Hussian. In my honor, I was able to shake hands with former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was also a ham when he visited Mala in 1987, ”he said. However, for Shajahan, his memories of ham are filled with emergencies like the earthquake in Gujarat and the tsunami in Japan. With his call sign, VU2MTP, Shahjahan still enjoys saving a native of Thrissur from the tsunami that occurred in Japan in 2011.
“I received a call late at night for an investigation to save Malayali Abdul Khader, who was stranded in Japan. His family members found my landline number and contacted me to use my ham service to find it. With the help of Bharathi Prasad, a ham from Hyderabad, who had an advanced amateur radio network, we were able to track him within days and ensure his safety. And Khader came to visit me when he got home, ”he said.
Abhijith AR, a businessman from Thiruvananthapuram, joins the veterans of the ham service. Abhijith, who is in her 30s, says the amateur radio service helps her connect with genuine people. “We live in the age of social media, but we’re not sure who the true identities of those we befriend there are. But ham is not such a space as all hams are licensed and have authentic identities verified by the respective governments. Thus, we do not have the possibility of being tricked or cheated like in social media. In addition, the hams are not used for personal purposes because they are a way to help each other in difficult times, ”he says.
Amateur radio operators receive Grade I and Grade II licenses. The call sign for hams in India begins with “VU2” which is the prefix of the call sign for holders of general license (formerly Advanced-Grade and Grade I) and the suffix will be their personal identification.