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Monday, July 06, 2020

Telegraph workers lament its end

The 160-year old telegraph services,also known as Taar in India,will soon be consigned to the pages of history.

Written by Shishir Tripathi | Chandigarh | Published: July 8, 2013 2:46:00 am

The 160-year old telegraph services,also known as Taar in India,will soon be consigned to the pages of history.

With the Union Government’s decision to discontinue telegraph services in India from July 15,2013,those related to it,be they employees or customers,feel that the government should rethink its decision.

Those who were employed in delivering the telegrams will be rendered unemployed after the discontinuation of the service as they worked on contract basis and were not permanent employees of the department.

Ravindar Kumar,who has been delivering the telegrams in Chandigarh for the last 10 years says,“When I got to know that the telegraph services will be closed I was taken aback. This is my only source of income. I use to deliver around 40 telegrams a day that earned me around Rs 200 as I got five rupees on each delivery.”

Ravindar who travels around 50 to 60 kilometers everyday to deliver the telegrams is unsure of what he will do after July 15.

Ashok,who also earns his living by delivering telegrams,says,“I am still hopeful that the service will not close. I have two school-going children and a family to feed. I have been doing this job for the last 12 years. At least we should be given some more time to look for an alternative job.”

Another set of people that was quite dependent upon the telegraph services for communication is that of medical representatives. Prarit Arora,who works as a medical representative,says,“According to the rules of our association,before we make a visit to any city,we have to inform the pharmaceutical company about it in advance. The mode of communication is telegram as it is valid proof and admissible in the court of law. Its sudden discontinuation has left us confused”.

Anil Sharma who is working with the telegraph department for three decades feels that it is in small places that the telegraph is running into losses. However,at larger centres like Chandigarh,Ambala and Jalandhar,it still attracts a large number of customers.

Amidst all the complaints about the difficulties that the customers and employees will have to face,there are some nostalgic tales of the past.

Recounting the heyday of the telegraph,Animesh Rana,who has been working with the telegraph department since 1982,says,“We used to send at least 1,000 telegrams a day. It was an important service and communication channel. It is since 2000 that the service started witnessing its downfall.”

“Recently,two senior citizens came to send a congratulatory message to their grandchildren,just to show them how the telegraph looks like and keep it as a record,” says Anil Sharma.

According to Rana,who joined the service at a salary of Rs 655,the incentive that he used to earn was more than the salary he got.

“We were supposed to send 220 telegrams a day. Anything above that would earn us incentives. We used to get four paise on each telegram we sent and two on receiving it. I built my house and gave my children good education all with money I earned here. It is more that a service for me as it gave me everything I have today,” explains Rana.

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