SMS and e-mail have rendered the 160-year-old communication system redundant, forcing the government to wind it up from July 14, 2013
Good news or bad, the knock on the door by a postal messenger with a one-word utterance — telegram — used to send shivers down the spine. But, it is not the case any more.
Sunday (July 14) would go down in history of India as the day when the telegram, the 160-year-old communication system, was laid to rest.
The Government of India decided to wind up the department to minimise losses to the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). Employees of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) felt that closure of the department might not affect the public, but were critical of the government’s act, which was taken to save DoT.
Keen to become part of the history, many visited telegraph offices to send the last telegram to their near and dear ones. “I will keep the receipt for the rest of my life,” said G. Jagadish, an engineering student of the NRI College.
“We held discussions with the telecom officials at New Delhi from July 7 to 9, and urged the government not to wind up the service. But, the government has taken the decision unilaterally without consulting the recognised unions. We condemn the move,” said BSNL Employees’ Union AP Circle general secretary J. Sampath Rao.
Short Message Service (SMS) and e-mails are the order of the day. With these facilities available in all mobile phones, the telegram has become redundant. Owing to poor usage of the service and dwindling revenue, the government has taken this extreme step.
“Employees working in telegraph offices will be absorbed into the BSNL,” said a telecom employee.
“The decision to close the telegraph department is appalling. There are several villages, which do not have transportation, electricity, and telephone facilities, and villagers depend on telegrams and letters. The government should modernise the telegraph service by using advanced technology, instead of shutting it down,” said a Computer Science engineering student T.J. Sumanjali of Acharya Nagarjuna University Engineering College.
Telegraph service was established in 1850. The East India Company brought the service to India and launched it for the first time in Calcutta (now Kolkata). Since then, the Telegraph Department has rendered a great service to crores of people across the country for several decades.