Jun 13, 2013

End of Telegraph Services in India

India today announced a full-stop to telegraph services. I saw this news one TV today morning. There was a sense of deja-vu when I saw it.

7 years ago, Western Union announced closure of their telegraph services. I was in the US back in 2006, I heard this when returning home on NPR in the Marketplace. Kai Ryssdal announced it in his typical style.

Coming to telegraph service, its a technology which correctly needs to be put to rest. Most of the country is having mobile and telephone access. And that effectively has substituted for the need of telegraph.

As with any technology, to discontinue old and unviable service is the correct course of action. Simply speaking it frees up resources for better uses. I am sure Western Union and Indian Posts and Telecom company will use its resources elsewhere where there is actual need.

That said, as probably the last generation who has used telegrams, I will remember the large Central Telegraph Office building in every town and city. It is behind New Shriniketan Colony in Aurangabad.
Telegrams were the fastest mode of communication until the ubiquitous spread of telephones (mobile or landlines) started in late 90s.

If anything taught us the the value of words, it was literally the telegram. Especially in country like ours where people were conservative and had to use the last paisa when sending telegrams.

Our art, be it cinema or  literature, they all had telegrams as an important part till sometime ago.

I recall a particularly humorous description of the sound of telegraph equipment (the Morse Code key) by P. L. Deshpande (पु लं ) in his legendary short story "Maazhe Poushtik Jeevan". As in Pu La's words,we will miss the "Kada-kat Kada-kat" (तार यंत्राचा कड-कट कड-कट असा आवाज ). If you can understand a little Marathi, don't miss out on this story recitation. It has those amazing jokes about how a letter mis-replaced here and there in telegram led to confusion.

At the end, we simply cannot forget the word "telegraph" because it will continue to appear in the very famous names of AT&T and NTT.

So long Telegrams!

1 comment:

JK said...

I was remembering all those moments when a telegram arrived at home when I was a child. It usually used to be news about someone passing away. And then there were those about cancelled travel plans. However, with the arrival of the telephone, the last telegram I remember coming to my home was way back in 1984. I am amazed that we used the technology till 2013.


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