The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Stop ... 163 years of telegram service comes to an end in India

  • Print

NEW DELHI - India's last telegram went out late Sunday, marking the end of a service that millions of Indians had relied on for fast communication for more than 160 years.

Hundreds of people thronged the 75 telegraph offices remaining in the country to send their last telegrams to friends or family as a keepsake.

The company cancelled holidays for staff at the offices to handle the rush, Shameem Akhtar, general manager at the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd., which runs India's telegram service, said Monday.

The company says declining revenues forced it to end the service, which had become obsolete in an age of email, reliable landlines and ubiquitous cellphones.

Some of the last-day users sent telegrams to Kapil Sibal, India's minister for telecommunications, pleading for the service to be continued.

"The losses were mounting. It was not viable to have kept it going much longer," Akhtar said. That was especially true as the number of cellphone users exploded, with 867 million subscribers as of April.

The telecommunications ministry said it lost $250 million in the last seven years and that it was time to put an end to the service.

India's telegram service began in 1850, when the first telegram was sent from the eastern city of Kolkata to Diamond Harbor, a southern suburb nearly 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the city centre.

Over the next few decades, telegraph offices proliferated, wiring the vast subcontinent with a network that became known for its speed and dependability.

At its peak in the mid-1980s, more than 45,000 telegraph offices dotted the country, with tens of thousands of telegraph workers and delivery men dispatching more than 600,000 telegrams a day. From birth and death announcements, to college admissions, job appointments and court summons, the telegram was the main way tens of millions of Indians __ in the remotest parts of the country and in its teeming cities __ received important news.

Until recently, the government used telegrams to inform recipients of top civilian awards and for court notices. India's armed forces even recognized telegrams from troops extending vacations or from soldiers' families requesting their presence at home for a funeral.

It was not immediately known what mode of communication the government will choose to replace the telegram for these types of announcements, but officials said since a lot of work was now done electronically, government departments will likely opt for email.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart: God Rest Ye Premier Selinger

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Young goslings are growing up quickly near Cresent Lake in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba- See Bryksa 30 Day goose project- Day 11- May 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 101130-Winnipeg Free Press Columns of light reach skyward to the stars above Sanford Mb Tuesday night. The effect is produced by streetlights refracting through ice crystals suspended in the air on humid winter nights. Stand Up.....

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think the provincial NDP’s approval rating could drop below the current 26 per cent?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google