[Sci -Tech] India’s Legendary Telegraph Service

Q: - When the Telegraph launched and who started the idea behind?

Ans: - The First Electric Telegraph line was started between Calcutta and Diamond Harbor in November 1850. A year latter the line was completed and opened for the East India Company Traffic. The person who conducted this experiment and thus pioneered telegraph and telephone in India was Dr William O Shaughnessy.  Soon after, he become the Director General of Indian telegraph Department


Q: - How the TELEGRAPH Department Started in India?

Ans: - After the successful working of above experiment line led to the construction of 6400 km of telegraph line constructing Calcutta and Peshawar in the North via Agra and Bombay through Sindhwa Ghats, Bombay and Madras in the south as well as Ooty and Bangalore. Telegraph Department was set up in 1854 and after the Telegraph Act was entacted and telegraph facilities were thrown open to public traffic.


Q: - How it got developed and time line of Indian telegraph Department?
Ans:-  1858:- First DG of ITD and First Indian and Ceylon Cable was laid.

1865:- First Indo European Telegraph Communication was effected and two years later a new cable was laid between Indian and Ceylon.

1873:- Duplex telegraph was Intoduced between Bombay and Calcutta.

1875:- ITD supplied the 1st private telephone line and two years later it erected a telegraphline between Srinagar and Gilgit on behalf of maharaja of Kashmir.


1880:- ITD transferred the responsibility of the Ceylon telegraph system to the Ceylon government.

1881:- Licenses was granted to private companies to operate telephone systems in Madras, Bombay, Yangon, and Calcutta

1882:- Telephone exchange was opened at Bombay.

1885:- Introduction of Quadruple telegraphy and provision of copper wire, instead of inron wire, for transmission between Bombay and madras.

1887:- The ITD provided facilities to the IMD to communicate strom signals to all places.

1888:- Marked an important milestone. It was the year, Our ITD was merged with Overseas Communication.

1895:- Phonograms were introduced for the first time in Bombay and Calcutta

1902:- First wireless telegraph station was established between Saugor islands and Sandheads.

1905:- Department of Wireless telegraph was introduced and the department was transferred to Commerce and Industry Department.

1907:- Women Signalers were employed for the first time.

1910:- Technical branch came into being as a separate orgnisation under electrical engineer in chief.

1914:- Postal and the Postal and Telegraph Departments were amalgamated under a single Director-General.

1919:- Simla had the distinction of employing women operators for the first time.

1920:- Madras – Port Blair route was opned for wireless telegraphy and a year later national cash registers were introduced in Calcutta CTO for the first time.

1960:- First Microwave route between Calcutta and Asansol was opened and First in Crossbar local exchange was commissioned at Mambalam (Madras) and the first Crossbar trunk automatic exchange was put into service in madras.

1970:- Witnessed the installation of SPC gateway telex exchange and introduction of international subscriber dialed telex service.

1980:- First Satellite Earth Station for domestic communication was set up at secundrabad.

Q:- From 1850 onwards to 1947, Does the telegraph has helped something in achieving our Freedom from British?

Ans:- We don’t have a railway network fully at that time and telephone was a distant dream. Our chance was to rely on telegraph or telegram that led to the foundation of Indian National Congress in 1885. Early nationalist leaders in particular Dadabhai Nourji understand the impotence of telegraph for political coordination and used it to their advantage. The Success of our Freedom fighters to use the TELEGRAPH system to their advantage proved the Technology was developed and deployed in India could easily be used in their favor as well. This shows the instrumental is not enabling political coordination across the subcontinent but also reducing the distance between the Indian and British parliament too...

Even J Nehru used it as Prime minister to contact his counter party in England.

            A Wealth of important announcements have been delivered by means of the telegram A 230 words message sent on Oct 1947 by the India’s First PM to his counterpart in London, Clement Attlee, informing him the disputed state of Kashmir had been invaded by Pakisthan force and requesting Britain  help.

“We have received urgent appeal for assistance from Kashmir government,” it read. “We would be disposed to give favorable consideration to such request from any friendly state.”

The messages of most ordinary users may not have borne such strategic information. But across thousands of miles of small-town and rural India, the telegrams bore messages that could not otherwise be delivered as quickly or reliably.

Q: - Why Indian Government want to end the service?

Ans: - They are two conditions which stipulated to close the service are as follows.


1.      Financial Crisis

2.      Advancement of technology ( Telegrams to Smart Phones)

Financial losses:- Though it used to convey the message in urgent terms and some bad news. The telegram conveyed the birth of a child, a death and greetings on birthday and festivals. But NOW INDIAN GOVERNMENT FINALL SAID TO SHUT DWON THE TELEGRAPH SERVICE ON THE ICONOIC YEAR 163 YEAR OLD SERVICE. As by the words of GM of BSNL (Which runs India’s telegram Service Shammen Akhtar. “THE SERVICE CLOSED BECAUSE OF MOUNTING FINANCIAL LOSSED AND BECOMING REDUNDANT IN AN ERA OF MOBILE PHONES AND THE INTERNET and THE LOSSES WERE GETTING BIGGER. We have lossed $250 million US Dollars in last Seven years and it was time to put an end to the service.”

Advancement of technology:-
Countless remote towns and villages across the country depended on the telegram for getting news where telephones were rare. Most telegraph workers criss-crossed inhospitable terrain to deliver the messages. In 1985, the service sent 600,000 telegrams a day across India and had a network of 45,000 telegraph offices. Experts say the telegram played an important in the Indian struggle for independence. But with the arrival of the e-mail and reliable landline phones, the days of the telegram were counted. According to estimates, there are now over 850 million mobile phone subscribers and over 160 million Internet users in India. A recent study by Cisco has claimed that India has the fastest Internet traffic growth in the world, and that the number is expected to grow to 348 million users by 2017.


Q:- Does any country has wind up the service before to India?

YES. Australia, Ireland, Malaysia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Pakistan and USA have closed its services. While some other countries offer services only on Greeting or Urgent or Death issues only Bahrain, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Japan, and UK. Over the past decade, several countries have also phased out telegram services. The closing of the world's last major commercial telegram service marks an end of an era.


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