Online courses help increase attendance at HAM

By Melvin Mathew

After experiencing a dip in 2021, Bengaluru’s interest in Amateur Ham Radio has picked up, thanks to online courses. In 2021, only 60 applicants were from Bengaluru. Courtesy covid, the indian institute of Hams was unable to conduct its reviews offline. In 2022, around 181 candidates are expected to take the exams this month.

“In 2020 and before the pandemic, we used to hold offline courses for Bengaluru HAM aspirants. Due to covid, we have been forced to do online classes. We have found these courses to be very effective and it has also made them more accessible to more people. People didn’t have to travel long distances or waste hours in traffic to meet their interests,” S. Sathyapal, Director, Indian Institute of HAMs.

While the theoretical courses took place online, the students were trained on the practical aspects by watching instructional videos. Sathyapal says the institute plans to continue online classes even after covid.

He added that Amateur Station Operator Certificate (ASOC) the courses are conducted by the Ministry of Communication and the officers involved must be from Chennai and Maharashtra. Travel restrictions have made it difficult to hold exams. It has also caused a backlog of eligible students waiting to take their exams.

The reasoning of the students behind the choice of subject is quite simple – it fascinates them. Even in the era of instant messaging available at your fingertips, radio amateurs are not losing their audience. “To be part of Rotary Club Yelahanka, Sathyapal had come there to demonstrate HAM radios. I had a childhood fascination with HAMs, but now I had the opportunity to get a license. During the first wave, I was in charge of neighborhood watch in the Yelahanka area and was constantly in coordination with the BBMP. During this period, I was able to use the instruments and I realized the importance of the instrument and I became interested in it,” said Rubeena, a covid warrior. She plans to use the skills in the future for social and emergency cases as the need arises.

Dr. Kiran Kumar, also traffic policeman, passed the exam held today at the Kanteerava stadium. “In the old telegraph office, the message arrived immediately. For me it’s more of a hobby but as I’m into the adventure it allows me to connect to other stations when I’m lost or stuck in areas with poor connectivity. As a volunteer for the Traffic Warden, this is a good skill set to acquire. During the lockdown, Sathyapal passed on information and that’s what made me fall in love.

This year’s batch also included young aspirants. For some, it also seems like a legacy that is passed down from one generation to the next. Ramakrishna, a certified HAM radio operator since 2004, encouraged his 13-year-old daughter to also get certified. “I was interested in building radios with electronic components and was also fascinated by Morse code,” said Ramakrishna’s daughter. “I saw my father working on the net and building antennas. As a kid, I used to help him too,” said Khushi, a 10th standard student.

Commissioner of Youth Empowerment and Sport Directorate, Dr HN Gopala Krishna told BM: “In times of crisis, HAMs have proven to be very useful. But compared to other countries, our numbers are very low. In India we have around 48,000 HAMs compared to Japan where every other person is a HAM operator. In India, even though there is an awareness, we have a long way to go. We want to include them in our youth policy to encourage more young people to become HAMs and play an important role in times of crisis.