Amateur or ham radio can counter the negative effects of social networking by providing a safer and alternative route for making friends worldwide, according to a licensed ham operator based in West Bengal.
"Today, social networking's dark side (like fake profiles) are affecting the youth. If popularized, the ham radio can be used by them to forge friendships with good people," Amabarish Nag Biswas, a licenced amateur radio operator and founder of the West Bengal Radio Club, told IANS.
He was part of the three-member team that helped in establishing communication base during the relief operations in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh in the aftermath of cyclone Hudhud.
Cyclonic storm Hudhud caused severe damage to Visakhapatnam city and coastal areas in Andhra Pradesh while some districts of adjoining Odisha have also been affected.
Members of the West Bengal Radio Club (Amateur Club) were deployed by the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority and Andhra Police department to "establish temporary fail-proof communication system" in the cyclone-hit districts of the states.
Working in collaboration with the Hyderabad-based National Institute of Amateur Radio (NIAR), the amateur radio experts succeeded in installing temporary centres in police stations in Vishakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts.
"As we travelled through the interiors of the state, setting up radio stations, we also relayed the magnitude of the disaster on air that we witnessed on our way," said Biswas, who returned to Kolkata Sunday.
"The Odisha government was well prepared as it has followed our suggestions in earlier disasters also and communication was not severely affected. However, communication system was severely hampered in the interior areas of Andhra Pradesh," he said.
"We could effectively demonstrate how simple science can be used for public service on a large scale. It has a scope beyond recreation," Biswas said.
Headquartered at Sodepur High School, the club station (VU2MQT) has been pushing the genre of amateur radio in West Bengal by conducting free training camps.
"When all means of communication, like internet, cell phones and landline are down, hams still get the message through other ham station via airwaves using simple radio communication equipment," Biswas said.
"The basic equipment is very simple, inexpensive and user-friendly. The process is easy to understand for children too," he said, adding the focus is to introduce it in the school curriculum in West Bengal.
The members of the club has recently met Bengal Governor K.N. Tripathi to make headway into the process of popularising the concept among the youth.