The announcement that the telegram service is set to close from July 15 has pained me a lot. It is indeed a miracle that the service survived so long, since it was always a foster child.
The younger generation remains blissfully unaware of this predecessor of emails and speed mails of today.
I started my career as telegraphist in Madras in 1965. The roaring sound of kattu kada kada, transmitting/receiving thousands of telegrams, lingers in my memory. I mourn the end of telegrams like the loss of a grandfather.
With mobile telephones and computers, one can communicate instantly. And this is what youngsters want. Telegrams had evolved their own language — which was brief and precise, and was known as ‘telegraphese.’ One well-known telegram was Sir Charles Napier’s one-word message, Peccavi, Latin for ‘I have sinned,’ implying that he had conquered Sind.
The government should take note of the BSNL employees unions’ opposition to the closure of the telegram service. Lakhs of telegrams continue to be sent even today. A lot of official communication takes place through telegrams. There are thousands of villages where the telegram is more readily available than the instrument touted as its alternative. The government’s decision is another attempt to turn its public-service role into a commercial one, and nudge the people to think of themselves as consumers instead of citizens.