The little-known life of amateur radio operators in Bengaluru
Communication turns out to be a major challenge when natural calamities strike, and even a hobby can prove useful as a vital resource at such times.
One of those intriguing hobbies, which has saved lives many times in the hour of need, is the amateur radio. Amateur radio is internationally accepted as the primary means of emergency communication. Also in India, amateur radio operators have stepped up in every possible emergency, from earthquakes to floods and cyclones, and their efforts have been commended. Even in the recent flood situation in many parts of the country, amateur radio communication has saved many lives.
Amateur radios are currently active from the Sundarbans in West Bengal to the West Ghats in the Konkan region. Both regions have recently been hit by cyclones and floods. When it is difficult to establish mobile connectivity, high-frequency signals from Ham radio connect to vulnerable areas to send relief.
There are over three million Ham radios around the world, each with a call sign that indicates their identity, country, and whether the person is using Ham radio for personal, military, or aircraft use. Bengaluru has an Indian Institute of HAM, which recently completed its 100th anniversary.
Metrolife spoke to two amateur radio enthusiasts – Nagesh Naidu and TS Ganesh – to learn more about the amateur radio community and their work. Naidu and Ganesh have both been on amateur radio for over four decades.
Naidu, who previously worked as a communications officer in the Merchant Navy, shares her date with the gadget: “I can tell you hundreds of stories about how we used the equipment to save lives and educate. people. At our own expense, we go out when and where there are people in need. Amateurs were active during all-natural disasters in India, whether it was the 2002 Gujarat earthquake, the 2004 tsunamis, the 2013 waterspout in Uttarakhand or the 2018 floods in Kerala.
Recalling another incident, he said, “In 1975 I ran into a 10 year old boy from Thiruvananthapuram. He suffered from a rare form of cancer and 20 vials of this vaccine were needed to save his life. These vials cost Rs 260 in India, and that was in the 1970s. Fortunately, we were able to establish contact with Israeli, South African and German amateur radio operators, and possibly one in Rome, Italy. There was a stock of all essential vaccines in this Italian medical organization, and they sent several boxes of vaccines via Air India. In this way, we were able to save the child’s life.
Ganesh obtained his amateur radio license in 1965. He says amateur radio is more than just a hobby, as the whole community responds and helps to recover as much as possible when the need arises. “But despite a fairly large community, few people know the work that is done by the community when disasters strike,” he laments.
Indian Institute of Hams, Bangalore Amateur Radio Club, Lions Club International Amateur Radio Club – Bengaluru and Mangalore Amateur Radio Club are some of the clubs affiliated with the Amateur Radio Society of India (ARSI). All amateur radio operators are eligible to volunteer as a member in their region. The Communication Department grants the amateur radio license in less than six months these days.
What is an amateur radio?
It is an amateur radio set used by authorized persons for the non-commercial exchange of messages, private recreation, self-training, emergency communication, etc. Today, the amateur radio community is an essential part of disaster preparedness and management.