New Delhi: The telegram, once the bearer of urgent news - good or bad, will no longer be in existence. The last telegram will be sent on July 15 with the BSNL deciding to discontinue the 160-year-old service from next month.
Silenced by e-mails, SMS and mobile phones, the humble telegram has failed to keep up with the India of the 21st century.
BSNL says, "It's economically not viable for us to carry on the services, following the popularity of mobile phones, email, chat and instant messaging, very few telegrams are sent in the country".
The first telegram was sent in 1850 between Calcutta and Diamond Harbour. Within 3 years, over 6000 kilometres of telegraph lines were placed connecting Calcutta, Peshawar, Mumbai, Chennai, Ooty and Bangalore. But despite several technical upgrades in the telegraph service, it has been dying a slow death.
Satish Kumar, a clerk in the telegraph office in New Delhi tells NDTV, "There are several places where mobile phone services haven't reached. In places like Siachen, lots of soldiers still communicate to their family through telegrams. Plus navy recruitments are still sent through telegram"
For 70-year-old Ramprasad Singh, telegram is how he used to chat with his wife several years ago. Today he sends telegrams to his 10-yr-old grandson in Mumbai, just to keep the tradition alive. It is a bitter-sweet moment for the telegraph staff too - who will now be shifted to the modern day successors like mobile services and broadband services over the next few months.
Meanwhile, hundreds of telegrams are pouring in from across the country, all addressed to the Prime Minister, with one request, let the 'taar' continue.