Telegram :- Interesting Story

  1. Why did India continue using telegrams for so long compared with other countries?

Telegram service in India is under State owned communication company BSNL. India is a vastly populous country with people coming from vaious walks of life rich to poor. Telegram service was till present day assumed to be utilized by poor people with lack of any means of fast communication. With advent of mobile phones and its deep penetration due to its cheap rates, mobile phones and internet have now replaced Telegram as fastest means of communication. India is a country of price sensitive people and hence to phase out a technology it needs to be replaced by a cheaper technology.

2. In recent years, who was using telegrams? Was it largely the older generation?

In recent years out of the 5000 telegrams sent daily 95% were used by government departments and rest 5% by people from rural india. Age factor here is not important.

3. What have been some of India’s most famous/important telegrams in Indian history?

1.       Quite a few one of the most notable telegram of India after independence. Telegram is assassination  of “Mahatma Gandhi” assignation, copy of which attach here. [Pict 1 : in attachment]

2.        The most famous uses would be during the 1857 war of independence when british used the service to defeat Indian rebels by bringing extra forces from burma communicating faster. In October 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru sent a telegram to the then British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, surmising India’s views on Kashmir – in 163 words. Finally use of Rs.10 Gandhi memorial stamps over telegram as part of fees addressed to Pakistan in 1948. [ Pic 2 attached below]. 

4. What do you think India’s connection with telegrams says about the country? Would you say “nostalgia” is a major theme in Indian society/culture? 

The use of telegrams was never the most popular mode of communication given its high cost, people preferred using post cards or letters. Only during news like belonging to death or illness or certain urgency related to trade or commerce,  were telegram used for communication. I would not say that nostalgia held the delay in shutting the telegraph facility. It was more due to lack of cheaper mode of fast communication and huge losses mounted by BSNL in tune of $ 4billions.

5. Do you have any idea about what the final telegram will say?

The last telegram to be sent in India on July 15 will use similar technology as the first, which was successfully transmitted over the 13 and a half miles between Calcutta and Diamond Harbour – on the banks of the Hooghly river – in 1850. I do not know what i would say.

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Contributed By:-


Member : Philatelic Advisory Committees, Govt. of India

Chairman communication :  Bihar Chamber of Commerce.