Alternative communication systems in disaster – torchlight Morse code communication in Mizoram


In Mizoram, there is a practice of an alternative system of propagation of messages called torchlight Morse code communication. It is an indigenous technology, by improvising the existing W/T based on Morse code communication into Mizo language. Morse code encodes the Roman alphabet, the Arabic numerals and a small set of punctuation and procedural signals as standardized sequences of short and long "dots" and "dashes", or "dits" and "dahs". In the Mizo method, hand-held portable torchlight was used to transmit Morse code by light signal and the receiver could easily interpret the message using the same code. This mode of communication augured well in the folded belt of Mizoram trending in N-S direction and most of the villages/town exists on the top of the hillocks. Most of the village built signal tower in the elevated places and any person who was well versed in the system was on duty by rotation to received, reply and forwarded the message. This practice, which was banned and became dormant when Mizoram was declared as a Disturbed Area according to Armed Forces (Assam & Manipur) Acts, 1958 in 1966, is now revived by Disaster Management Centre, Administrative Training Institute, Mizoram in collaboration with Mizo Signal Corps by training NGOs and Mizoram Police Radio Organization personnel. With its advantages and limitations, it may also be applicable in other part of India, especially in other hilly, vulnerable and inaccessible area.

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