Express press service
HYDERABAD: Bharthi Prasad, a well-known amateur radio operator in India, has been involved in several relief operations across the country during natural calamities. Times of trial had returned for her when she saved the lives of terrified Indian students in Ukraine at the start of the war, from her radio shack in Saidabad.
“I made contact with a HAM radio from Ukraine while making contact. He identified himself as Vishnu, a Keralite, and informed that there were several Indian students with him in a bunker, about 30 km from kyiv,” she shares. Having received no response from the Indian government, she contacted radio HAMs in Poland and Budapest, who then gave their contact details and helped the students to be evacuated.
Amateur radio refers to two-way radio sets that are used to communicate with each other and those who operate it are called HAM. Shashi Bhushan, director of the Lamakaan Amateur Radio Club (LARC), says: “Amateur radios are similar to what the military and police use, only the frequencies they communicate on are different. As commercial entities cannot access it, the common man can use it for free. »
The hobby of amateur radio is nearly a century old and has seen a downfall over time. Even so, Hyderabad has seen a steady increase in its user base, thanks to those who carved its way to the fame it enjoys today.
Eighty-one-year-old retired senior airman Sriramamurthy Suri, a decorated Masab Tank veteran, was friends with the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi (a HAM himself), who asked him (Suri) to create an organization promoting amateur radio in the countryside. Sriramamurthy says, “This is how the War of Andhra Pradesh Amateur Radio Society was born in 1975, with a mission to help the administration in times of calamity. It was renamed the National Institute of Amateur Radio (NIAR) in 1983.” Although he has trained and inspired thousands of HAMs, he says very few people actually use it and most dislike the subject. and the potential it holds.
The author of All About Amateur Radio laments: “People know next to nothing these days about the importance of this technology except that they can sit for the HAM radio license exam after the age of 12. years.”
In the eye of the storm
Forty-nine-year-old Ram Mohan Suri, president of NIAR, was in the Andamans on an expedition to operate his radio set (also called DX-pedition in HAM radio lingo) when a tsunami hit the Indian Ocean. “It was a rude awakening on December 26, 2004, when I saw the television crossing the room. I realized a few hours later that the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake had triggered a huge tsunami. When my team and I were safely on high ground, we refused to be evacuated and instead set up an emergency communications station to assist the administration in the relief work, saving many lives,” says -he.
Next Generation Enthusiasts
LARC is made up of home brewers who help enthusiasts with the technical expertise and materials needed to build their sets through workshops. Although commercially available, amateur radios cost around 50,000 `, amateur brewing can reduce the price by almost a tenth. Recently, Farhaan Ashhar of Banjara Hills, another founding member of LARC, launched an amateur radio satellite, Exseed Sat-1, which was built locally by his company Exseed.