Indian Telegram service was discontinued on July 14, 2013 after its 163 years long and valuable contribution to the communication facilities in India. The service was started in 1850 on experimental basis and was opened to public in 1950. Telegram Service (TAR) proved its efficacy and utility along with the postal service. It is a matter of satisfaction that Post & Telegraph Services really served the far flung rural and hilly areas of India through a well spread and well managed net work of post offices and postmen. Dakia or Dak Babu enjoyed a well deserved place in the official hierarchy of rural India.
My personal encounter with the telegram service is not much. I recall my father telling me that he in his younger days sent telegrams, as advised by the Ad-dharam Mandal, to the British Government at the time of Round Table Conferences in London in 1931-32 expressing support to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar that he was the leader and representative of the dalits and not Gandhi. My further introduction to the telegram service was incidental. On the letter heads of one of the leather companies of Seth Khushi Ram and Seth Hans Raj of Bootan Mandi, I found “INSAF” as the telegraphic address of the company. It must be early 60s when I was a young student. I did not understand the meaning and purpose of it. Later I came to know that the established companies and individuals register short but catchy words as their telegraphic address to save expenses on sending and receiving telegrams. It made lot of sense. In January 1971, my grandfather expired and I had to come to Jalandhar from Delhi on un-planned leave. Later when I intended to extend my leave, I got a telegram from the Ministry of External Affairs, my employer advising that “JOIN DUTY IMMEDIATELY”. During my long diplomatic service, I found TAR word very sacrosanct. The coded communications between the Embassies and the Headquarters at MEA in New Delhi is called TAR in general parlance. It is an important tool of diplomatic communication.
The modern modes of communications like telephone, E-mail, SMS etc. has made life easy and communicative. But the romance and charm of TAR will remain. It was a harbinger of good and bad for a long time.