New Delhi: Popularly known as ‘Taar’, the telegram service in India was seen as the harbinger of change. For 160 years, the service was both anticipated and feared; bringing good and bad, but urgent news to Indians.
Whether it’s a birth, death, wedding, job, unemployment, war, accident, and you name it – telegram touched every aspect of the way India lived. Though in the age of smartphones, emails and internet, telegram much like postal service had become redundant and that’s why the service was shelved for good in July 2013.
Telegram like several other things was started by the British in the 1850s, and it won’t be wrong if we call it the dawn of communication in India. Today’s day is important because it was April 27, 1854 when the first telegram was sent from Mumbai to Pune.
Here are 10 facts about the telegram service in India:
Telegraph services in India date back to 1850. The first telegraph line, though only experimental was established between Calcutta and Diamond Harbour.
The British East India Company started using the telegraph in 1851 and till 1854 telegraph lines were laid across the country.
IN 1854, the telegraph service was opened to the public and the first telegram was sent from Mumbai to Pune on this very day in 1854.
Telegraph service thrived in India even after Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone in 1876.
Since 1850 till 1902, the telegrams were sent through cable lines, but in 1902, the Indian system went wireless.
In 2011, BSNL hiked to the price of telegram after a period of 60 years. From three or four rupees (U.S. $0.05 to $0.07) for 50 words, the price of Taar shot up to 27 rupees (US$ 0.47) for 50 words.
By 2011, a number of losses were such that the service generated about Rs 75 lakh annually, compared with the cost of over Rs 100 crore to run and manage it.
Therefore, the government decided to draw curtains on the service for good in 2013 and July 15 was the last day of this iconic communication service which served the people of India for over 160 years. In last week of the service, thousands of telegram booking were made by people to make their goodbye to this service memorable.