In an era before mobile phones, when even the ubiquitous rotary-dial telephone had not quite became a household fixture, the wireless telegraph was the fastest way to deliver messages. Letters sent by overland mail took days to reach, as they still do, while aerogrammes sent from overseas took weeks, often arriving after the sender. The arrival of the taar-wallah, the telegram delivery man, was greeted with tense expectation. Invariably, save the odd good tidings of an examination passed or a betrothal arranged, it was always bad news that he brought. Messages such as 'Father critical' and 'Mother expired' were de rigueur, their spare, unsentimental phrasing conveying cold, urgent fact.
The British East India Company established the telegraph service in Calcutta in the early 1850s, laying kilometres of telegraph lines across the country. In 1902, telegraph went wireless. Until recently the wireless telegraph was the only channel of communication to reach remote, interior villages in India. The growth of Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) first, email over the Internet and later cellular penetration dealt body blows to the telegraph service from which it never recovered.
On July 15 Indian authorities closed the country's telegram service, once a fundamental part of the country's communication system. Telegraph was used for everything from taking care of official business to reporting deaths and marriages. With the booming use of mobile phones and the Internet, the historic service that began over 160 years ago has now been in decline for years, and government-owned telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has decided to discontinue it.
Reuters photographers Mansi Thapliyal and Danish Siddiqui documented the final days of India's telegram service.
Recommended for You
VAL D'ISERE, France (AP) -- The third World Cup downhill training session at Val d'Isere was canceled Friday because of poor weather conditions.The Associated Press
Snow shovels and brushes are no match for the thin layer of ice that can greet them, with perilous results, when they walk up your steps on a wintry evening. Imagine a heated door mat that would keep them sure-footed.Gardenista
TORONTO - Canada's top weather stories for 2013 from Environment Canada, ranked on the degree to which Canada and Canadians were impacted, the extent of the area affected, economic effects and longevity as a top news story:Associated Press
TORONTO - Environment Canada says floods were big newsmakers in Canada in 2013, and June's record flooding in Calgary and southern Alberta leads its Top 10 weather stories of the year.Associated Press
BIG SUR, Calif. - A late fall wildfire that has destroyed more than a dozen homes and forced about 100 people to flee the scenic Big Sur region overlooking the Pacific Ocean was nearly three-quarters contained Wednesday.Associated Press
BIG SUR, Calif. (AP) — A late fall wildfire that has destroyed more than a dozen homes and forced about 100 people to flee the scenic Big Sur region overlooking the Pacific Ocean was nearly three-quarters contained Wednesday.Associated Press
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - Astronauts aboard the International Space Station prepared for an unexpected series of spacewalks by fabricating spacesuit snorkels they can use for breathing in case of another helmet water leak, NASA officials said on Wednesday. The spacewalks,…Reuters
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Standing amid giant piles of snow in the shadow of MetLife Stadium, Super Bowl organizers said Wednesday that they're prepared to deploy thousands of trucks and tons of salt to prevent snowy weather from interfering with the biggest football game of the year.Associated Press
BIG SUR, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters were making progress Wednesday battling an unusual late fall wildfire that has destroyed more than a dozen homes and forced about 100 people to flee the scenic Big Sur region overlooking the Pacific Ocean.Associated Press
By Jonathan Allen NEW YORK (Reuters) - It would have to be the blizzard of the century but a wicked enough storm could shift the date of Super Bowl XLVIII, slated for February 2 at New Jersey's MetLife Stadium, game officials said on Wednesday. Although the National Football League's annual…Reuters
By Laila Kearney SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Firefighters battling a blaze that has destroyed 22 homes along California's scenic Big Sur coastline were counting on lower temperatures and more favorable wind conditions to help them suppress the flames, officials said on Wednesday. The Pfeifer Fire…Reuters
In a push to save money and lives this winter, four U.S. states are dispatching smart snowplows to gather road and weather conditions in almost real-time. The system integrates GPS-coded measurements from sensors on the snowplows with computer weather models and satellite and radar observations to…LiveScience.com
"Both departures and arrivals were stalled," said airport spokesman Kapil Sabarwal, as planes hovered in holding patterns, waiting for conditions to clear. The fine particles suspended in the fog ranged as much as seven times beyond the concentration that India considers safe, to reach a level the…Reuters
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Crews worked through the night to clear roads in time for the morning commute Wednesday and school was canceled or starting late for some children across New England after several inches of snow fell.Associated Press
HALIFAX - Another blast of wintry weather has cancelled some schools and flights in the Maritimes.Associated Press
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Snow that fell overnight in portions of New England was expected to impact morning commuters as the Northeast wrestled with winter's latest blast.Associated Press
BIG SUR, Calif. (AP) — An unusual late fall wildfire fueled by drought conditions destroyed more than a dozen homes and forced about 100 people to flee the forested mountains of the scenic Big Sur region overlooking the Pacific Ocean.Associated Press
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — More snow and frigid temperatures trudged into the Northeast on Tuesday even as crews continued to clean up from a weekend storm.Associated Press
Crews battling a wildfire along central California's scenic Big Sur coastline were on guard against a possible shift in winds on Tuesday, after the blaze destroyed at least 15 dwellings and forced 100 people to flee their homes, fire and county officials said. Firefighters gained little ground…Reuters
Earlier this week, snow covered more than half of the continental United States, the highest this measure has reached for this date in a decade, according to government scientists. As of Dec. 15, the white, fluffy stuff covered 53 percent of the lower 48, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric…LiveScience.com