Telegram: Time to bid adieu…

Telegram one of the oldest communication services is set to become history.

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited has declared that it will discontinue its 160 year old telegraph services from July 15 2013.


Telegram introduced India to the world of telecommunications. We now have the second largest telecom network in the world based on the total number of subscribers. We also have one of the lowest call tariffs (South Africa having one the highest call rates). The growing number of internet users and instant messaging services like whatsapp has led to decline in usage of telegram services and it’s time to bid adieu to the oldest communication network in India

* In 1850, the first experimental electric telegraph line was started between Calcutta and Diamond Harbour. In 1851, it was opened for the use of the British East India Company.  Telegram played an important role in ensuring the British victory in India’s First War of Independence, it also played a  strategic role  in helping the British to relay info (almost real time) across large parts of India.

Our generation met telegram only in the movies (remember how many movies had the a Taar Aya hai sequence) and in stories told to us by our grandparents for whom telegram was the main source of quick and urgent communication.

It was the only way to deliver happy and sad news to people – most telegrams  had a messages like child birth, interview call, selection for a job, confirmation of supply orders, ticket booking details and  news of serious illness or death of relatives.

Telegram was the SMS equivalent of the pre-cellphone era with its typical telegram lingo (with acronyms and shorthand’s) and will leave behind hilarious memories of typo errors and mistakes. Blunders like telegram reaching the wrong person/address were common. There used to be multiple meanings derived from a telegram message because of the devilish word limit. A typical telegram used to read like this: FATHER ILL START SOON {STOP} which would be interpreted as “Your Father is ill. You need to leave immediately to see him.” But what would you derive from this: FATHER, YOUR DAUGHTER SUCCESSFUL IN BED {STOP} which should ideally be interpreted as a father’s daughter passed her B.Ed. exams. Before twitter, this was the only communication network with word limit (25 words inclusive of message, receivers name and address senders name and the word STOP – to indicate that the message ends) and the challenge was to keep it short as single every word was charged.  

With the Indian telecom industry transforming into a next gen network (India awaits the launch of 4G services now) telegram will now be remembered only in our history textbooks.


News Courtesy:

* Historic Data:  History textbooks for SSC

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