Indian media: Remembering telegram's rich history

Many Indians sent their "nostalgic last telegram" on Sunday
Image caption Many Indians sent their "last telegram" on Sunday

The closure of India's 163-year-old telegraph service has sparked a feeling of nostalgia in newspapers.

The government on Sunday night ended the service, triggering a last-minute rush at telegraph offices as people came to send a "nostalgic last telegram" to their loved ones.

"Curtains came down on Sunday night on the 163-year-old telegram service in the country - the harbinger of good and bad news for generations of Indians - amid a last minute rush of people thronging telegraph offices to send souvenir messages to family and friends," the India Today website reports

Once used widely in the country, the popularity of the service has been severely affected by the advent of e-mails and text messages in the last two decades, papers say.

"In fact, most Bollywood movies used a telegram to signal a bad happening - 'mother ill come soon' - while members of the armed forces used the service extensively to seek leave or to give transfer and joining reports," says The Tribune.

The paper remembers how "in pre-independence India, revolutionaries often snapped telegram lines to stop the British from communicating".

"For customers using the service 'on this historical day,' as one put it, the messages sent were the stuff that memories are made of," says The Hindu.

Meanwhile, newspapers are also expressing concerns over India's worsening economy.

The Deccan Herald says "the overall situation for the economy is rather grim and careful navigation is needed".

"The falling rupee pinches a common man's pocket in many ways: be it pulses, soap, detergent, or your favourite pizza, their prices are headed north," the paper adds.

The Tribune feels that rising unemployment is also adding to India's economic woes and criticises the government for "being absorbed in furthering a broader sharing of the national cake through subsidies" and not showing any "inclination to increase the size of the cake".

Ties with Bhutan

Moving on to foreign affairs, newspapers feel India should reach out to the newly elected People's Democratic Party government in Bhutan to improve bilateral ties.

India recently withdrew oil and gas subsidies given to Bhutan, sparking speculations that Delhi took this step due to the Himalayan country's improving relations with China.

"Despite Delhi's strenuous denials that the (subsidy) withdrawal was not aimed at influencing the election, the timing was certainly odd… Delhi must desist from using its privileged position in Bhutan to play games of the sort it did with Nepal or risk alienating another neighbour," The Hindu says in an editorial.

India's move has also sparked anger in Bhutan and many feel this may have contributed to the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa party's defeat in Saturday's general elections, reports say.

"Not renewing the needed subsidy, as this touches ordinary folk, left Delhi open to the charge of taking sides in Bhutan's internal affairs… Given the special and unique nature of India-Bhutan ties, such a situation should never have arisen," says The Asian Age.

Staying with foreign relations, Iran has agreed to receive payments in rupees for oil exports to India, The Pioneer reports.

Tehran is facing several international sanctions over its nuclear programme, making it difficult for Delhi to pay in other international currencies, reports say.

And finally, newspapers, including The Pioneer and The Tribune, are paying rich tributes to legendary Bollywood actor Pran, who died at the age of 93 on Friday night.

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