A news item published in The New Indian Express (Madurai Edition).

Saturday, April 29, 2000

HAM still holds a pride of place in global communication

Even in this age of hitech internet communication which is bandied about with much hype across the globe, one cannot rely on it in times of calamities and natural disasters.

But the age-old mode of communication, HAM (Help Another Man). has never failed us till this day either in passing or responding to S.O.S. even from far corners of the world, " claims a city professor.

Though Prof. V.T.Sadasivan, initially took to it as a hobby like any other HAM buff, as years rolled by he found it something more than that.

I may not have seen him, I may not have an occasion to see him for rest of my life at all and yet hearing his S.O.S. through my HAM and coming to his rescue by sending quickly messages to concerned persons gives me immense pleasure. Wouldn,t you like playing good samaritan to someone in need without wasting time, "Sadasivan quipped to this correspondent during a lenghty chat.

The so called HAM set looks like a walkie talkie like machine, some wires here and there plus a mike like thing, reminding one of a HG wells fiction but when switched on, voices of several unfamiliar persons miles away comes alive through coded messages giving a sense of joy and thrill.

Certainly Sadasivan can take pride in owning this device, is the impression one gains after getting a feel of what HAM is all about.

Though retired, he is active as the day begins.

During a visit to his residence recently, Sadasivan was communicating with his HAM friends in Madurai, Tuticorin, Kovilpatti, Rajapalayam, Palghat and even places like Chennai and Bangalore. 'We normally talk about the prevailing weather condition, the temperature, any interesting event worth sharing' etc, would be conversed.

He revealed that apart from lighter interactions like knowing each other, HAM members have come to the rescue of many in times of crises such as flood, earthquakes, tragedies etc., when telecommunication network goes out of order.

Sadasivan says, the Bhopal gas tragedy, Quilon train accident, Andhra cyclones, Airbus accident near Bangalore and the infamous stampede at Kumbakonam 'mahamaham'are some of the few instances where, HAM members played a vital role. 'We take positions and communicate with people concerned from the spot'. Public have always commended the services of HAM members especially at Himalayan motor rally and Amarnath pilgrimage. We have seen and heard the effective use of HAM during manmade disasters, Sadasivam asserts.

With pride, he says, HAM is the most personal, technical and international of all hobbies. HAM members include king Hussain of Jordan, former & late prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Ms Sonia Gandhi and her children, Ambassadors, Missionaries, Personalities from the celluoid world like Kamal Hassan, Ambitabh Bachhan, Charu Hassan. Most of them actively chat with HAM members regularly.

Though, taken as scientific hobby, HAM has served many social purposes and environmental necessities. the story of HAM is the story of scientific and human advances that had given benefit only to humanity.

"CQ, CQ, CQ This is VU2 GNR calling VU3 GDA and standing by, over". These are the wods a radio listener hears repeatedly when he or she tunes through the 7 to 7.1 MHz frequencies of a sensitive radio receiver. If some one considers it as some calndestine radio station, operating surreptiously, he would be wrong.

What he had heard was a HAM with call sign VU2 GNR, a mining engineer of Chitradurga in Karnataka, trying to cotact another HAM user VU3 GDA, a school teacher in Usillampatti, Madurai district. Such is the network of HAM.

Sadasivan who is also founder presidentof the Amateur Radio Association of Madurai (ARAM) is currently engaged in teaching computer science to students of MAVMM College in Madurai.

Though, language may be a barrier with international HAMs, if a member can interact in English or other national language, the conversation would be lively, he says.

HAM dosen't have any regional or national boundaries with no language barrier.

But the members are prohibited from passing third party messages or use it for promotion of business, propaganda, politics or religion. The essence of HAM is "One World, One Language", he says.

The professor said the Wireless Planning & Co-ordination Wing of the Union Ministry of Telecommunications are the licence issuing authorities.

Written examinations are conducted every month and a candidate can take the exams at the nearest monitoring station. However, the government issues licences only to Indian national and those in 12 years and abouve can appear for the exams.

Keeping in mind, the need to promote the hobby, which has unfortunately not reached many youngsters, the ARAM meets regularly at the Sourashtra School, Madurai and exchange information regarding the HAM. Sadasivam hopes to rope in aspirants into the nnet rope in aspirants into the net and make the association more vibrant and interesting from this temple city.

Courtesy - L.Srikrishna

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