India To Shut Down Telegram Service July 15. Rest Of World Cocks Head And Says, “Telegrams Still Exist?”

 @MayaErgas
on June 13 2013 12:53 PM
India telecommunications
An employee of the state-run telecom firm Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) repairs underground telephone wires during early hours in Noida, located in the India's northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh June 17, 2011. Reuters/Parivartan Sharma

One of the last remaining bastions of the telegram, India, has announced it is ceasing telegram services on July 15, in the wake of the rising popularity of smartphones, texting and email, the Times of India reported Thursday.

Telegrams – called “taar” in India --  began circulating in the 1850s. The signs of the taar’s demise were already clear; the system was privatized when Indian telecommunications company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. took over from the postal system in the 1990s, and two years ago raised the price from three or four rupees for 50 words (US $0.05 to $0.07) to 27 rupees for 50 words (US $0.47). In March 2013, BSNL announced the cessation of all international telegrams. Even then, Times of India reported, BSNL suffered losses of 17 million rupees (around US $290,000) in the last two fiscal years.

BSNL said it decided to cease telegram services after asking the Department of Posts to take the failing service back. An official from the National Federation of Telecom Employees told First Post India that this would be highly damaging to the unions and telegram employees, and that telegrams are still used in many poor areas where people can’t afford computers, phones or the Internet.

Telegrams are still used in a few parts of the world. Even Western Union in the U.S. only shuttered its telegram services as recently as 2006. In the U.K. and Sweden, some people use telegrams as primarily nostalgia items. Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, Slovenia and Switzerland, still offer full telegram services.

 

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