KARNATAKA

Efforts on to popularise HAM in Mysore

MYSORE, MARCH 24. Mysore, which was once known for Radio Amateurs (HAMs) in the country, is now witnessing a steep fall in their number. While some of those having licence have left Mysore in search of greener pastures, the delay in obtaining licence has killed the enthusiasm among the budding Radio Amateurs.

During the Nineties, Mysore had more than 40 Radio Amateurs, and on an average 120 Radio Amateurs passed the examination conducted by the Union Ministry of Telecommunication for granting licence. Today, hardly 25 of them are active and the number of training programmes organised for them remains negligible. HAM or Radio Amateur is the only hobby recognised by the United Nations and the International Telecommunications Union.

P.M. Shivaprasad, Radio Amateur, told The Hindu that Mysore was once a production house of HAM enthusiasts in the country with a majority of those seeking licence being students. Gradually, the number dwindled for various bureaucratic reasons, killing the momentum and experience gained over the years.

As most of the students were outsiders, by the time licence was issued, they would have returned to their homes. Nearly 40 per cent of those who appeared for the examination lost interest with the delay in issuing licence, he said. The reasons were the delay in issuing licence by the Ministry of Telecommunication, which in many instances had taken at least a couple of years. Technical classes conducted by the officials of Monitoring Station under the Ministry of Telecommunication's Wireless Planning and Coordination Wing were discontinued for some time due to their busy schedules.

Though the first licence in India was issued in 1921, the number of HAMs in the country is between 18,000 and 20,000. There are 3.5 million licence-holders around the world with more than 1.3 million Amateur HAMs in Japan alone. According to a popular version, HAM stands for Hertz, Ampere and Marconi who gave frequency, Current and Radio, respectively.

Radio Amateur that evolved during World War I has come in handy during disasters. Radio Amateurs have coordinated with government efforts during natural calamities such as the Latur earthquake in 1993, the Amarnath yatra disaster, Orissa super cyclone in 1999, and Gujarat earthquake in 2001.

For the help rendered during the tsunami disaster in December last, the Union Minister for Communication and Information Technology, Dayanidhi Maran, recently released the Amateur Radio Acknowledgement Card (HAM Card), a thanksgiving letter to the 36,000 HAM operators worldwide. Another hindrance for the growth of Radio Amateur is the high duty on the equipment imported for radio transmission.

The presence of two national bodies has added to the confusion. While the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), which has set guidelines for Amateur HAMs has recognised Amateur Radio Society of India (ARSI), the Union Government has recognised the National Institute of Amateur Radio (NIAR) as the national body. This has affected the development of HAM as a hobby, Mr. Shivaprasad said.

Programmes

To rekindle interest in Radio Amateur among the people, Mr. Shivaprasad said, some HAM enthusiasts have come forward to popularise the hobby.

Display of wireless equipment, demonstration of radio communication and organising field days are among the programmes to be launched shortly.

The main aim, he said, is to inform that anybody aged above 12 can become a Radio Amateur. Now that the licence is being given within a year, the interest in HAM can be sustained among youngsters, he added.

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