Mangaluru: Brahmavara Mahabala Hegde (83), one of the pioneers of amateur radio in Coastal Karnataka passed away due to old age at about 1 am on Friday July 2 at his residence at Surathkal. A retired Senior Manager at Vijaya Bank, he is survived by his wife Malini and two sons, Abhay Kumar and Anoop Kumar. Before joining Vijaya Bank, he had served for about eight years at NITK-Surathkal (KREC) and had a brief stint in the Indian Air Force. His mortal remains were cremated at Surathkal crematorium the same afternoon.
Born in Moodu Thonse village near Kallianpur in 1938, he had his early education at the Jathabettu Aided Primary School at Uppoor, St. Xavier’s Higher Elementary School at Kolalgiri and the Milagres High School in Kallianpur. He received his BA degree from St Aloysius College in Mangalore in 1957. He had taken up varied career placements including Radar Operation Trainee at the Indian Air Force, as a Junior Statistical Assistant in Puttur, as a Store Keeper and Assistant Librarian at the Karnataka Regional Engineering College before joining Vijaya Bank in 1972. He retired from banking service in 1998 as a Senior Manager and Faculty Member at the Staff Training Centre of Vijaya Bank at Mulky.
Popularly known as Hegde-mam to all, he had a lifelong interest in amateur radio, which is better known as ‘ham’ radio. He took on to amateur radio by short wave listening, getting interested in the hobby and contacting other hams that he had heard on his receiver. He has been a licensed ham operator since 1978 along with his son Abhay Kumar and was one of the most active operators on the VHF band till the end.
Prof. Ranjan R. K, Anaesthesiology and Rotarian (call sign VU2AXV) told News Karnataka that, “I attended his class in 1992. He taught Ham to us in a simple and easy-to-understand manner. Initially, he taught roughly 120 students who had joined, but when they learned that it was not their cup of tea, the number of students progressively decreased. Only 25 working and aspiring Hams attended, and all 25 passed the exam.”
He remembers Mahabala Hegde as a teacher who assisted him in passing the Ham licence exam. “He was always connected to our Ham radio network. When a call came in, he was the first to answer and inquire. He wanted to know who had called. He was a special person in the Ham network,” he added.
Due to his enthusiastic pursuit of this hobby, he had enjoyed enormous fan following and his ham radio call sign ‘VU2HEG’ was recognized by ham operators all over India and the world. He was an active ham for over four decades and was a mentor and a guru to a huge group of fellow ham enthusiasts.
He passionately promoted the hobby in many ways including nurturing two well-known radio clubs in the region, Mangalore Amateur Radio Club and also the KREC Ham Radio Club at the prestigious NITK Surathkal, a premier engineering institute. He was a co-founder of Mangalore Amateur Radio Club, which was started in the year 1976 and presently has about 60 members. He was also a life member of the Amateur Radio Society of India. “In the demise of our co-founder B. Mahabala Hegde, we have lost an inspiring elder figure of ham radio movement in India. His prodigious knowledge, humble nature and able nurturing of young radio enthusiasts will be missed by all,” said Vishnumurthy K. (call sign VU2VTI), President of the Mangalore Amateur Radio Club in a condolence message.
His house was a museum for plethora of unique homemade gadgets and novel arrangements invented and constructed by him displaying his creative genius, in the true spirit of an amateur radio operator. Very well known for his friendly and loving nature, he had a great sense of humour and ready wit.