Good news: New 9N1 calls to be issued in November!
For around ten years, amateur radio in Nepal has been in an unfortunate situation: although visiting foreign hams such as myself could obtain a temporary (9N7) call within a few days, it was impossible for Nepali citizens to become licensed. The syllabus for the exam was “under revision,” and even Nepalis holding a foreign license could not have that license recognized. No longer!
In early November, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) will hold a license exam [notice in Nepali]. They plan to hold future exams yearly, and can do so more often if there is sufficient interest. According to Satish (9N1AA), around 45 Nepalis have applied to sit for the exam in November. So, we should very soon have many new 9N1 friends on the air.
Unlike in the U.S., Nepalis need to apply in advance to take the exam; walk-ins are not allowed, and the deadline to apply has already passed.
There is a serious shortage of ham equipment in Nepal. Over the short term, I hope to assist in in establishing a club station, and my own station will also be open to new hams. Over the long-term, it would be good to build a corps of equipped amateurs in and around the Kathmandu Valley to promote the hobby. Following a recent earthquake on the Nepal-Sikkim border that resulted in some shaking (and three deaths) in Kathmandu, there was also an exchange on a Nepali mailing list about the possible role for amateur radio in emergency response, as well as some media coverage. I will post on this blog the outcomes of any future discussions on emergency communications in Nepal.
This is exciting news for amateur radio in the South Asia region!