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PHOTOS: A day after the Telegram died

July 16, 2013 09:15 IST

A day after the Telegram died

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India on Sunday wrapped up the 160-year-old telegram service in the face of dwindling revenues.

A day later telegram employees are left wondering what to do next.

Here’s the sight at one such telegraph office in Mumbai.

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Image: Two operators playing carrom at a telegraph office
Photographs: Sahil Salvi

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A day after the Telegram died

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A huge loss was being incurred due to the decline in the usage of telegrams over the years as mobile phones, short service messages and e-mails took over.

"In running this service, the working expenses were too high. Telegram charges for 30 words are 25 rupees. While sending an SMS is very cheap. People stopped using the telegram service," said Central Telegraph Office General Manager Shamim Akhtar.

From the heady days of more than half a million telegrams per day in 1985, the number of daily telegrams has dropped to a mere 5,000 per day -- making it unfeasible for the government to sustain the costs and staff needed to run the service efficiently.

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Image: Only empty chairs here now
Photographs: Sahil Salvi

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A day after the Telegram died

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In the early days, telegraphists would type in Morse Code. Now, they use computers.

Messages varied from mundane subjects, to family tragedies, to notes about major news events, all typed with the same hands. It is how the office's staff stayed informed about what was happening around the world.

As time passed and technology advanced, the government's telegraph department had to slowly downsize operations, shut various offices and transfer its employees several times to other departments.

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Image: Going through old records for a change?
Photographs: Sahil Salvi

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A day after the Telegram died

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In the recent years, the main telegram senders were limited mainly to government organisations, except for a few people who remained faithfully associated with the age-old services.

The workers will now be moved to other communication departments.

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Image: Lending a helping hand to good 'ol post
Photographs: Sahil Salvi

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A day after the Telegram died

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Some are emotional about the closure and feel they are too old to begin something new.

"The telegram was very important. Mobile networks do not work at many places and there are no landlines there either. So, telegrams work in those places. The telegram is 160-years-old and has been in operation ever since the time of the British rule. People need to give copies in court, give permission to anybody, to grant leave or for marriage or death intimation. It will be a problem now for the public. This is for the service of the public and even if there was no profit the department was working on no-profit and no-loss," said Rohtash Verma, telegraph department employee.

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Image: Waiting for the next assignment!
Photographs: Sahil Salvi

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