The first amateur radio operator was licensed in 1921 during the British rule. Partly due to low awareness among the general population and prohibitive equipment costs, the number of licensed amateur radio operators remained low for several decades. In 1970, there were less than a thousand operators; by 1980, the number had risen to 1,500. In 2000, there were 10,000 operators and as of 2007, there are more than 17,000 licensed users in India.
The first amateur radio operator in India was Amarendra Chandra Gooptu (callsign 2JK), licensed in 1921. Later that year, Mukul Bose (2HQ) became the second ham operator, thereby introducing the first two-way ham radio communication in the country. By 1923, there were twenty British hams operating in India. In 1929, the call sign prefix VU came into effect in India, replacing three-letter call signs. The first short-wave entertainment and public broadcasting station, "VU6AH", was set up in 1935 by E P Metcalfe, vice-chancellor of Mysore University. However, there were fewer than fifty licence holders in the mid-1930s, most of them British officers in the Indian army.
With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the British cancelled the issue of new licences. All amateur radio operators were sent written orders to surrender their transmitting equipment to the police, both for possible use in the war effort and to prevent the clandestine use of the stations by Axis collaborators and spies.
Temporary amateur radio licences were issued from 1946, after the end of World War II. By 1948, there were 50 amateur radio operators in India, although only a dozen were active. Following India's independence in 1947, the first amateur radio organization, the Amateur Radio Club of India was inaugurated on 15 May, 1948 an the School of Signals at Mhow in Madhya Pradesh. The club headquarters was later moved to New Delhi, where it was renamed the Amateur Radio Society of India (ARSI) on 15 May, 1954. As India's oldest amateur radio organization, ARSI became its representative at the International Amateur Radio Union. In 1952, the Wireless and Planning and Coordination Wing of the Ministry of Communications was created that specifically handled the issue of licences and legislation.
Partly due to low awareness among the general population and prohibitive equipment costs, the number of licensed amateur radio operators did not increase significantly over the next two decades, numbering fewer than a thousand by 1970. CW (Morse code) and AM were the predominant modes at that time. The electronic equipment was mostly valve-based, obtained from Indian army surpluses. During the mid-1960s, the modes of operation saw a change from Amplitude Modulation to Single Side Band (SSB) as the preferred communication mode. By 1980, the number of amateur radio operators had risen to 1,500. In 1984, then Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, waived the import duty for wireless equipment. After this, the number of operators rose steadily, and by 2000 there were 10,000 licensed ham operators. As of 2007, there are more than 16,000 ham radio operators in India.
To obtain a licence in the first four categories, candidates must pass the Amateur Station Operator's Certificate examination. This examination is held monthly in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai), every two months in Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Hyderabad, and every four months in some smaller cities. The examination consists of two 50-mark written sections: Radio theory and practice, Regulations; and a practical test consisting of a demonstration of Morse code proficiency in both sending and receiving. After passing the examination, the candidate must then clear a police interview. After clearance, the WPC grants the licence along with the user-chosen call sign. This procedure can take up to 12 months.
|Short Wave Listener's Amateur Wireless Telegraph Station Licence||12||—||Obtained without appearing for the examination.||A user can monitor the airwaves on short wave frequencies.|
|Restricted Amateur Wireless Telegraph Station Licence||12||10 W||Minimum score of 40% in each section of the written examination, and 50% overall.||Terrestrial radiotelephony transmission in two VHF frequency bands.|
|Amateur Wireless Telegraph Station Licence, Grade–II||12||50 W||Minimum score of 40% in each section of the written examination, and 50% overall. In addition, a demonstration of proficiency in sending and receiving Morse code at five words a minute.||Radiotelegraphy and radiotelephony transmission in 11 frequency bands.|
|Amateur Wireless Telegraph Station Licence, Grade–I||14||150 W||A minimum of 50% in each section of the written examination, and 55% overall, and a demonstration of proficiency in sending and receiving Morse code at 12 words a minute.||Radiotelegraphy and radiotelephony transmission in 14 frequency bands. In addition, satellite communication, facsimile, and television modes are permitted.|
|Advanced Amateur Wireless Telegraph Station Licence||18||400 W||A candidate must pass an advanced electronics examination, in addition to the passing the Rules and Regulations section, and a Morse code proficiency at 12 words per minute.||The maximum power permitted is 400 W in selected sub-bands.|
In a 2005 notification, the WPC proposed an amendment to the 1978 Amateur Service Rules in the rationalization of the licence categories to only two: the Amateur Wireless Telegraph Station Licence (General) and the Amateur Wireless Telegraph Station Licence (Restricted). , amendment has yet to be passed by the Parliament of India.
The exam consists of two parts:
The maximum number of marks that a candidate can secure is 100. To pass the examination, a candidate must score a minimum of 40 (50 for Grade I) in each written section, and 50 (55 for Grade I) in aggregate for a pass.
The first subtopic is the elementary theory of electricity that covers topics on conductors, resistors, Ohm's Law, power, energy, electromagnets, inductance, capacitance, types of capacitors and inductors, series and parallel connections for radio circuits. The second topic is the elementary theory of alternating currents. Portions include sinusoidal alternating quantities such as peak values, instantaneous values, RMS average values, phase; electrical resonance, and quality factor for radio circuits. The syllabus then moves on to semiconductors, specifically the construction and operation of valves, also known as vacuum tubes. Included in this portion of the syllabus are thermionic emissions with their characteristic curves, diodes, triodes and multi-electrode valves; and the use of valves as rectifiers, oscillators, amplifiers, detectors and frequency changers, stabilisation and smoothing.
Radio receivers is the fourth topic that covers the principles and operation of TRF receivers and Superheterodyne receivers, CW reception; with receiver characteristics such as sensitivity, selectivity and fidelity; Adjacent-channel interference and image interference; AGC and squelch; and signal to noise ratio (S/R). Similarly, the next topic on transmitters covers the principles and operation of low power transmitters; oscillators such as the Colpitts oscillator, Hartley oscillator, crystal oscillators, and stability of oscillators.
The last three topics deal with radio propagation, aerials, and frequency measurement. Covered are topic such as wavelength, frequency, nature and propagation of radio waves; ground and sky waves; skip distance; and fading. Common types of transmitting and receiving aerials such as Yagi antennas, and radiation patterns, measurement of frequency and use of simple frequency meters conclude the topic.
Also included in the syllabus are Q codes such as QRA, QRG, QRH, QRI, QRK, QRL, QRM, QRN, QRQ, QRS, QRT, QRU, QRV, QRW, QRX, QRZ, QSA, QSB, QSL, QSO, QSU, QSV, QSW, QSX, QSY, QSZ, QTC, QTH, QTR, and QUM; and CW abbreviations and prosigns such as AA, AB, AR, AS, C, CFM, CL, CQ, DE, K, NIL, OK, R, TU, VA, WA, and WB.
The syllabus includes the following Morse code characters: all alphabets, numbers, prosigns, and punctuations such as the full-stop; comma; semi-colon; break sign; hyphen and question mark.
Receiving: For Grade II, the test piece consists of a passage of 125 letters, five letters counting as one word. Candidates are required to copy for five minutes at the speed of five words per minute, international Morse signals from an audio oscillator keyed either manually or automatically. A short practice piece is sent at the prescribed speed before the start of the test. More than five errors disqualifies a candidate. For Grade I, the test piece consists of a passage of 300 characters comprised of letters, figures, and punctuations. The average words contain five characters and each figure and punctuation is counted as two characters. Candidates have to receive for five consecutive minutes at a speed of 12 words per minute.
Sending: For Grade II, the test piece consists of 125 letters, with five letters forming one word. Candidates are required to transmit by using a Morse key for five consecutive minutes at the minimum speed of five words per minute. A short practice piece is allowed before the test. Candidates are not allowed more than one attempt in the test. More than five uncorrected errors disqualifies a candidate. For Grade I, the speed sent is 12 words per minute.
|Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai||Every month|
|Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Nagpur||January, March, June, August, October and December|
|Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Ajmer, Bangalore, Darjeeling, Gorakhpur, Jalandhar, Goa (Betim), Mangalore, Shillong, Ranchi, Srinagar, Dibrugarh, Vishakapatnam, and Thiruvananthapuram.||January, April, July and October|
|Grade||2 years||5 years||Exam fees|