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Amateur Radio Society of India Wants Less-Burdensome Amateur Radio Licensing Rules

09/12/2014

The Amateur Radio Society of India (ARSI) — India’s International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) member-society — is continuing its efforts to make it easier to obtain an Amateur Radio license in that country, where excessive red tape is an accepted reality when dealing with government agencies. The latest attempt came in an August 19 letter from ARSI President Gopal Madhavan, VU2GMN, to Ravi Shankar Prasad, who heads the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

“In India we are hampered by some very archaic rules, which were possibly formulated during the British [colonial] times, when everything was done to restrict radio licenses being given to Indians,” Madhavan wrote. “The most restrictive and time-consuming aspect is the ‘security clearance’ that is being done before a license is granted,” he continued. “In most cases, this takes months or even years, and often the paperwork is totally lost in transit between the various agencies.”

Such “inordinate delays” in receiving a license after passing the examination can cause applicants to simply lose interest, said Madhavan, who is also IARU Region 3 chairman. “[G]enuine aspirants to Amateur Radio are denied licenses for months, year, and sometimes forever, as the papers are lost,” he said.

In his letter, Madhavan took pains to spell out Amateur Radio’s public service role in past disasters and emergencies, such as the Indian Ocean tsunami, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and the Latur and Gujarat earthquakes. Amateur Radio also contributes in terms of technical training, experimentation, and communication, he said.

The Department of Telecommunications within Prasad’s ministry issues Amateur Radio licenses. The Indian government has suggested that ham radio technology may fall into hands of terrorists and has begun requiring a security clearance. Madhavan pointed out that the security clearance requirement is not listed in India’s Amateur Radio regulations, and he called it “totally irrelevant” at a time when many other means of communication are available.

“Every country has serious concerns about security, but they have not found it necessary to vet aspirants to Amateur Radio as is done only in India,” he wrote. In most countries, he noted, applicants can obtain a license within a week of passing the required exam and paying any necessary fees.

Madhavan requested Prasad’s “intervention and coordination” with the Ministry of Home Affairs to help ease the process of issuing a new amateur license and to grow India’s Amateur Radio population, which currently stands at some 17,000 in a country of more than 1.2 billion people.

India offers General and Restricted class Amateur Radio licenses as well as a Shortwave Listener (SWL) license. License examinations are conducted by the Wireless Planning and Coordination Wing of the Ministry of Communications. Applicants must be at least 18, although those between 12 and 18 can apply with parental permission.

 



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