India Ends Telegram Service

After more than 162 years, the telegram service inside India was stopped. Thousands of people from India jammed into the telegram offices Sunday to send one last souvenir message to family or friends before the service was discontinued.

Sunday marked the last day messages would be accepted by the telegram service, the last major telegram service in the world that is still in operation.

The Central Telegraph Office located in New Delhi said it was set up to handle the expected deluge of clients.

The last telegram will be accepted at 10:00 pm local time and all will be attempted to be delivered on the same day, while the remaining will go out Monday morning.

All free time for staff was cancelled in an attempt to handle the message volume, which has a cost of a minimum of US $0.50. The messages are hand-delivered to the recipients on bicycles.

On Sunday, housewives, students and joggers were amongst the people sending loved ones messages. Many were talking on their mobile phones getting postal addresses of family and friends so the last minute dispatches could be sent.

Officials said if the telegram service would have had rushes like this one, then the service would not have been shut down.

The service is known as Taar or wire and will shut down Monday due to mounting losses financially.

Prior to mobile phones and Internet service, the network was the biggest form of communicating long distance, with over 20 million messages being dispatched from India in 1947.

At its 1985 peak, the utility sent out over 600,000 telegrams per day in India, but that has now fallen to only 5,000 per day.