Telegram, ‘Twitter of the pre-digital age’, is dead in India


It has been in decline for decades, but once touched the lives of millions of Indians ever year, writes BBC’s Geeta Pandey. Colloquially known as “taar” or wire in India, telegram service, once a source of quick and urgent communication — and responsible for a twist in the plot of many a Bollywood film, too.

India’s last telegram sent yesterday as the country’s state-run telegraph service –the world’s last major commercial telegram operation– shuts down after 163 years. Thousands of Indians lined up in telegram offices on Sunday to send souvenir messages to friends and family, ABC News reports.  One of telegram messages sent yesterday is consist of five words only: “The End of an Era”.

Telegram is a written message transmitted by using an electric device and a huge web of wires. Telegrams used to be very widely used, but are not as popular anymore now that most people who would have used them to communicate can use telephone and emails.

According to The Times of India, eight telegraph offices in the city sent 3,085 telegrams, including 511 phonograms, besides 6,000 mass telegrams by corporates and financial institutions on Sunday.  At their peak in 1985, 60 million telegrams were being sent and received a year from 45,000 offices in the country, while today, only 75 offices exist.

Some telecommunication companies in Belgium, Canada, Japan, Russia, Germany, Hungary still delivers telegram services. Checkout worldwide status of telegram services here.


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