On the birth anniversary of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, many recall his contribution to the development of ham radio as a hobby in the country. Radio hams recall Rajiv Gandhi (VU2RG) simply as Rajiv and the work he did to promote the hobby.
According to information provided by the National Institute of Amateur Radio (NIAR), Hyderabad, he found good potential in amateur radio operators (radio hams) to carry forward his vision to “open up communications to the people through amateur wireless stations set up as a national network in over 6 lakh villages.”
According to Arya Ghosh, a life member of NIAR and a radio ham for 16 years, the late Rajiv Gandhi, with the help of founder and Chairman of NIAR S. Suri and others, organized an exhibition, “Communication Past-Present- Future,” at Teen Murthy Bhavan in New Delhi from November 14 to 19, 1981 and invited the Press, senior scientists and bureaucrats. His mother and the late Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, visited it and made several contacts over amateur radio, particularly to several Ham stations set up in cyclone-prone areas of Andhra Pradesh to show how it would help in disaster mitigation.
The plan of action to promote amateur radio nation-wide was prepared by the late Rajiv Gandhi. It was made known to the public at a meeting organized by Mr. Suri in Hyderabad during the late Rajiv Gandhi’s first visit to Andhra Pradesh as AICC General Secretary and MP in February, 1982. In front of a gathering of at least 5 lakh people, he declared that amateur radio must be developed fast in national interest and to see scientific temper was developed among youth and that of taking the country into 21st century with Communication and Information Technology open to public participation through Ham.
Mr. Ghosh who lives here recalls that the late Rajiv Gandhi’s love and affection for ham radio and radio hams was so much that even on the very last day of his life, he made his last call on ham radio from the city of Visakhapatnam on board an aircraft.