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RIP: Telegram service ends world wide on 7/15/13

NEW DELHI: After 160 years, India’s has decided to discontinue its telegram service as a result of losses incurred by the state-owned telecoms operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL).

The telegram service, which first started in India in 1851, is a victim of the mobile phone age — currently there are 900,000 mobile phone users and 120 million internet users in India, and these figures are expected to increase further in the coming years.

The telegram department, on the other hand, is incurring losses of more than US$23 million a year.

Hence, the government’s decision to once and for all, end a service that had become more of a piece of “nostalgia” than a practical service.

From July 15, tele-printers in India will finally fall silent.

At the time of India’s Independence in 1947, there were some 160,000 kilometres of telegraph lines criss-crossing the country, even though the service had gone wireless in 1902.

After the British subdued the Indian Rebellion of 1857, one captured Indian soldier reportedly pointed at telegraph wires on his way to the gallows and said: “There is the accursed string that strangles us.”

Senior officials tell of how the service, from an average of 17 million messages a year in the 1950s, fell to just a few thousand in recent years.

There is one happy note though, as there will not be any lay-offs when the service finally winds up.

Shameem Akhtar, senior general manager at the central telegraph office, said: “These people will be inducted into various other departments of the telecommunication service, like mobile phone services, broadband, land line, etc.”

R P Gaur, the last chief superintendent of India’s telegraph services, is due for retirement in December and feels nostalgic

He said: “When I got this job, when I was selected to be in Indian telegraph services, I was informed through telegram. I still have that telegram with me.”

With little work in hand, Gaur has had plenty of time to develop a strong bond with his staff. But soon, they will all be dispatched to other departments and locations — much like the telegrams of old.

Article Credit: channelnewsasia.com

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