India closed down its iconic 160 years old telegraph system throughout the country on Sunday i.e. July 14, 2013. The khakhi-clad Indian postman, armed with a telegram, would no longer knock at doors to deliver sometimes the words of love or the agonies of life.
On the occasion that marked the end of an epoch, eager and enthusiastic News Nation team sent 400 telegrams on 13/07/2013 and set a record of sending highest number of telegrams in India on a single day. The profiling of the recipients spanned from Politicians like Sonia Gandhi, Narendra Modi, Cricketers- Kapil Dev, Bollywood celebs like Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan etc.
Although, the telegraph services had became a sort of relic in the era of e-mails, many felt that it was wrong on the part of the government to close down this public-oriented service since the entire country is not computer literate and most of the rural areas do not have access to internet as means of communication.
A resident of New Delhi, Angelo Joseph said it is sad to believe the end of an era of telegrams.
"I feel very bad about it, because all of my life in my business, I have lived through sending off urgent messages through the telegram. Now of course the email is here. But it is here for the people who are resourceful, who have their resources at their command like computers and things like that. But not for poor people in our country; there are a lot of poor people in our country. And those poor people come out of villages to the cities to serve and earn. So they send their messages back home. They don't have facilities of email ID. So the government should think in some form or the other that they should start this communication service once again," said Angelo Joseph.
For some, the demise of telegram amounted almost to an identity crisis in their lives.
At Amritsar in northern state of Punjab, Suraj Chand, who has been working in the Department of Telegraph, perceived it to be an extended form of his self-identity and felt sad.
"I joined this department as a telegraphist in 1975. You naturally love the place where you have worked for so long. I have put in 37 years of service. I got my identity because of this telegraph service. My children could progress in life. I feel so proud of this fact. I feel a lot of importance attached to this telegraph office. It is like a place of worship for me," he said.
Similar emotional thoughts were expressed by people in Mumbai, the financial capital of India.
Amol Shetge, a resident of Mumbai stressed on its practical usefulness as well.
He said that it preserved the privacy of one's messages more than the modern-day SMS or e-mails.
"The Telegraph Department has a special importance. All of its data remains with the Government of India. In other places your privacy ends. If you send an SMS or other electronic medium then it can be surveyed. The privacy and the attachment that you get here cannot be got anywhere else," said Amol Shetge.
The first experimental electric telegraph line was started between Kolkata and Diamond Harbour in 1850 and next year it was opened for the use of the British East India Company.