Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Messenger of yesteryear must not die

By RK Rishikesh Sinha

Come July 14, the telegram service rendered by the government would become a technology of the past. We all, definitely have some faint memories. Though I have never used the telegram extensively, but of course I had used the telegram service twice. And both the times I sent telegrams to my father asking for money. It seems humorous in the present real-time communication world and nostalgic too. But that was a period and time. It stills hard to imagine it was 1996-1997. The telegram service was used by people.

However, the government decision to stop the use of telegram with the advent of sms and smartphone (and the reason that has been cited) somewhere looks filmsy and doubtful. First, India is too big and diverse. The technological advancement in the field of communication that we witness in metros and in  towns might look ubiquitous but the same inference could not be drawn that it is true for the people living in every nook and corner of India. To cite an example, the rest of India cannot SMS to J&K. It is banned there. Yes, one can talk. There might be some areas, where still electricity is a distant dream. I wonder, in such areas how one could run mobile. If some people have the privilege using batteries and other sources, again it is not equitable to every citizenry. So, the reason citing that the technological advancement has eclipsed the use of telegram, does not hold water, at least for me.

Another reason that has been forwarded to the ultimate demise of telegram is to the fact that it is not commercially viable.  If government has to do business for profit, then all the banking infrastructure (to take an example) in remote areas must be shut down since they are not generating huge profit. Profit cannot be taken as the ultimate yardstick for any activity that the government undertakes. If profit is considered too seriously, the time might come when India Post might stop its electronic Money Order (e-MO) service. Citing that it is not viable with the advancement seen in the banking sector, people are using internet banking, mobile banking, phone banking, and ATM banking to transfer fund. Is it true? No. Banking sector is still not equitable to every Indian. Financial inclusion of the people is still a distant dream. Despite all the advancement, a common man still uses Money Order to transfer fund. He or she doesn’t know how to transfer fund by visiting a State Bank of India (SBI) branch!

The quality of the service rendered by the employees, is one more reason that cannot be sidelined, to the death of telegram. Everyone knows how a government employees work, and the culture it permeates. An e-MO sent to me was returned citing the area is out of service :) 
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