A news item published in The Hindu (Chennai Edition ).
November 25, 1996
HAM's contribution enormous: Sonia Gandhi
The former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi was an active amateur radio operator even at the hieght of a busy political like and was committed to the promotion of HAM, recalled Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, chairperson, Rajiv Gandhi foundation (RGF).
Till a few hours before his assassination, he was 'on air,' making his last call from Visakhapatnam on May 21, 1991 in the midst of a hectic election tour, she said. He used the HAM radio intensively while flying around as the Prime Minsiter.
Mrs. Gandhi was speaking at the valedictroy function of the Rajiv Gandhi Memorial SEANET 96, the 24th internation convention of amateur radio operators. Organised by the madras Amateur Radio Society (MARS) in Chennai on Sunday.
Recounting her late husband's involvement with HAM, she said Rajiv Gandhi used to derive immense pleasure from operating radio. In the early years of their life, when he was still a pilot with the India Airlines, he used to assemble has own equipment. He even forced her to learn the operation of radio which their children also mastered later.
Though he was hard-pressed for time after joining politics and later becoming the Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi did not leave the hobby. While he was the Prime Minister, he onced picked up a call to red Cross from Bangladesh which was badly hit by a storm. he immediately requested the National Institute of Amateur Radio (NIAR) to offer their network for relief operations.
Her husband was also devoted to the promotion of HAM, Mrs. Gandhi said. he had allocated resources for its spread and training in radio operation through selected institutions.
The RGF also took steps to promote HAM. Through NIAR it helped radio clubs in training, creating an awareness, organising demonstrations and conferences and instituting awards. The RGF HAM awards had been won by amateur radio enthusiasts from the south, she said.
In the advanced world, the amateur radio might look like an anachronism compared to cellular phones. but, in the vast areas uncovered by communication means, it still had a role to play. Its contribution was enormous during calamities and disasters. the radio enthusists were involoved in the hobby purely for the ' pleasure of activity and service'.
Mrs. Gandhi said she was moved by the naming of the conference after her husband.
In his presidential address, Dr. S.Suresh, president, MARS, said Rajiv Gandhi had done ' yeoman service' to the amateur radio enthusiasts which included the reduction of customs duty on radio equipment. The conference, which witnessed unparalleled friendship among HAMs many of whom had not seen each other, was a historic and momentous occasion.'
Mr. Gopal Mahadhavan, vice chairman, SEANET '96, in his address, said HAM operation was a 'hobby of deversity'.
In the election held for hosting the SEANET in 1998, Singapore defeated Bangaladesh. Next year's conference would be held from November 14 to 16 in Darwin, Australia.
Mr. G.K.Moopanar, president, Tamil Maanila Congress, Mr. Kumari Ananthan, president TNCC(I) Mr. M.Saravanan, Organising Chairman, SEANET '96 and Mr.R.Ravikrishnan, Organising Secretary, were present on the occasion.
About 200 HAM enthusiasts from different parts of the world participated in the conference which commenced on November 22.