The End?

Distance communication has evolved hand-in-hand with human evolution, as it has played a prominent role in the everyday lives of many throughout history. With the advent of language, a great barrier among humans was dissolved to facilitate easy communication and interaction. How this went on to form communities and societies is an entirely different field of study. What we will be viewing here is the advent of telegraphy and its evolution, its contribution in history, and its ending days.

Throughout the course of history, the modes of communication were dominated, or perhaps dependent on the earliest techniques for distant communication through messengers who carried important messages, pigeons trained to transmit information, many a times, even smoke signals and light reflections. In 1794, a Frenchman named Claude Chappe came up with semaphore technology that used visual signals to communicate, which pretty much required the usage of building a semaphore tower as shown below.

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Although reported to have been in existence and experimentation since the 1740s, the first practical and modern version of the electrical telegraph was invented by the well known Samuel Morse, who is also famous for Morse Code, the uses of which have sensational tales to tell. Anyway, bringing back our focus on the telegram advent in India, it was started by the British in 1850 as a means of communication between Calcutta and Diamond Harbor, which later included the East India Company.

With this start, the telegram sector grew rapidly as more people started to realize its potential as a faster and better approach than the conventional postal system, in case of emergency situations that needed a quick means to transmit the necessary message. The telegram sector was a revolution in terms of speed and modes of deliverance back in those days when the industrial and technological revolutions were just about dawning.

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Currently managed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, this is the oldest surviving modes of communication today, next only to the postal service. Subsequent advances were made in technology to facilitate faster and closer to real time communication with the introduction of telephones, which also was the first blow to the telegram.

The phones revolutionized the communication so much in those days that it became a household necessity by the 1980s from the days of trunk dialling after its introduction. This paved way for a new era in wired communication, with larger networks coming into picture, and the need for maintaining them arising simultaneously. Several organizations and individuals realized this and the earliest prototype of electronic message communication were tried on the newly built networks. Subsequent developments led to the introduction of the Internet in 1989, and with that, the emails, optical fibre communication, and the like entered the scene. The telegraph industry would still operate besides all these advances, but in areas that only required its exclusivity like official and personal communications.

The 90s in India made way for another giant into the industry, which is none else than the most indispensable tool for today’s communication, the cellphone. The takeover of the communication industry by mobile phones was so dominant that even the landphones started getting replaced by these pocket fitting devices gradually as they shrunk along.

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Last week, the TRAI has announced that the last telegram in India will be sent on July 14, 2013, citing “losses of over $23 million a year because SMS and smartphones have rendered it redundant”, as said by Shamim Akhtar, general manager of BSNL’s telegraph services.

This could be viable on a practical note to improve the efficiency and management of modern communication systems, but a long lasted heritage that has been entwined with the cultural, historical, and the communicative aspects of a classical technology that served millions over generations, could as well be seeing its end and itself become a relic in the books of history. It should be debated with a conservative approach, roping in the popular opinions of public, to assess the necessity and feasibility of telegrams today and the consequent steps that need to be taken.

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Freedom of Intrusion!

The previous week in the United States of America has seen an uproar by the masses with what can be termed as one the gravest breaches of the codes of conduct by the Government of USA. As a country, USA is technically and economically advanced several fold with newer inventions and discoveries happening every day. The flipside of such a development is the need to accommodate all that knowledge inaccessible to the wrong hands, which naturally falls upon the Government as an innate duty. Bizzarely, as the various news reports and public social media posts around the world indicate, the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) enabled PRISM bears the brunt for invading the email records, phone conversations, and millions of SMSs exchanged within USA and other countries, all while the public being kept in the dark.

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All of this was exposed last week on the 6th of June, by an ex-CIA employee, Edward Snowden, who has reportedly given up his job, $200,000 home, and various other incentives and moved away to the Philippines with his girlfriend, anticipating the NSA and CIA ops to barge into his new ‘hideout’ anytime. Protests and petitions are galore all over the world to avoid his arrest, as the people rightfully believe the Government is at fault by illegally and unofficially intruding into the private lives of several American citizens. Alas! The Govt. never had it coming and probably assumed nobody would ever come to know of this operation, no matter however they claim it to be an anti-terrorist agenda, “at least thwarting one terrorist attack across the country and saving American lives”.

The central debate here is, how immune are we to authoritative intrusion given in such a scenario, where a majority of masses cannot even foresee what their Government is upto. We are assured a constitutional set of rights that ensures our ‘Freedom of Expression’ under the radar of which, we are allowed to air our views and opinions into any accessible media. Before all of this were several of them, Julian Assange being a notable figure in bringing to light many of those ‘scams’ across boundaries of various countries and their governing bodies.

With companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and others reportedly said to have shared information about its clients, the time falls upon to expose the social security of every individual stark naked.

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The above picture is just one of those staggering reports exposed by Wikileaks.

Then comes the issue of censoring information, what the governing authorities deem necessary and fit to go for the public audience, which does not seem to have had much of an impact on the masses, who are resilient than before to vent their opinions. These types of exposures, which though seemingly rapid and rampant these days, were extremely difficult to achieve a decade ago, possibly because of the absence of networking and social media connectivity of today. Bringing such awareness to the whole population was possible, partially with the internet, but TV and mass media played a huge role in conveying such incidents to the people. These opinions were, in effect, monologous with the critiques and expressions of the media persons largely influencing the analytical freedom of the audience. As social media and networking boomed over the passing years, people started to realize the potential of educating the masses, sharing ideas, opinions, and having a say in important discussions that would be published later. These opinions carried the power to change the perspectives of a whole nation, with the furore caused by the Delhi rape incident to prosecute the culprits, being only an example to such magnanimous potential the masses hold.

With such an awareness, together we can hope for an accountable authority that lies answerable to its citizens about any of its activities, rather than submissing such demands under the name of national security and top secrecy, be it any nation, because, one day, the truth shall come out raw or cooked, and it will still be the truth. Such instances are not yet exposed or experienced in India to a ‘noticeable’ scale, but the networking and information sharing can make this happen, for good or bad, as we alone can interpret it to be.

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Has Your Phone Been Stolen?

Phones getting stolen was the greatest joke in the last millennium, say in the 1980s, or even the 1990s, at an age when fixed lines dominated the telecom sector. In the later half of the 1990s, the advent of cell phone industry boomed with the market expanding worldwide, reaching more customers. More and more people started to own mobile phones, of course, they all had paid prices that could be termed exorbitant in today’s standards.

What looked like a block of plastic brick was gradually shrunk to fit the size of your pockets, in the 2000s. The smaller size and versatility in their functionality rendered mobiles phones a must have among the young and old alike, with its possession forming a social standard during the last decade. Sure, we all have experienced the growth of the cell phone industry and you may be tempted to ask, why the recap?

As mobile phones became more portable, they got more popular, and carried the risk of getting stolen simultaneously. Thefts were reported as phones being stolen from the edges of windows while kept for charging, from the pocket of a bus passenger, gone from a restaurant table when not looking, and even robbed at knife point! While mobile companies were busy impressing their customers with crazy looking handsets, thieves were busy looking for the most vulnerable points of getting their hands on these devices.

Authenticative measures such as providing an IMEI number, tracking mechanisms, tracking softwares, sophisticated security systems, lock mechanisms, and the resulting police complaints have not yet deterred the cell phone thieves to carry on with their activity. To top it all, you might have also encountered an awkward situation of having to go to the local market looking for a used phone and happened to see your long lost love, the first phone you had purchased with your first salary, stolen a month back and lying there as a second-hand device looking for prospective buyers. The insurance companies then entered the scene promising to safeguard the interests of the buyers and replace with another phone, in case their phone gets stolen. The situation has been pro-customer since then, but the problem has not been 100% solved. People still steal phones, and people still are losing them while you are reading this article.

The Telegraph magazine reported a rise in mobile phone thefts by 25% in the past 3 years, which definitely puts a doubt on the credibility of the security our phones have. What is shocking more to anyone is that most of the thefts go unreported or, if reported, they get lost slowly and buried under other ‘priority’ cases in the jurisdiction of the concerned area. Very few instances come by as heart warming stories where phones have been returned to their owners by prompt citizens after efforts to make contact, and even local auto/taxi drivers going to the extent of delivering the forgotten phones to their owners without minding their usual shifts or routes.

Considering all the recent incidents and stories, we at Sangeetha Mobiles were prompted to offer our customers a suitable mechanism in this respect to secure their phones from being stolen, and if being stolen, a suitable solution for the same. We have brought out the SWIFT theft insurance against phones repeatedly getting lost, and so the cases. Upon their phones being stolen, the customers can contact the local police station or the station under the jurisdiction of the place where it was stolen, and file a complaint to report it. For phones ranging below Rs 5000, a yearly insurance of Rs 99/- would secure them; for phones ranging between 5000-15000, Rs 199/- would suffice and for phones costing above Rs 15000, a SWIFT insurance of Rs 299/- is provided.

All they have to do is register a complaint or FIR at the police station and submit the related documents such as the phone invoice during the purchase, phone bill from the network provider, and the relevant acknowledgement or the FIR report from to Sangeetha Mobiles outlet. After examining the facts, necessary arrangements will be made to replace the phone for the customers if the facts are found to be corresponding to the customer’s statement.

Besides, like the old adage goes, “Prevention Is Better Than Cure”! So make sure you have an eye on your device wherever you go, because it’s not the phone that could get lost, but also valuable personal data along with it.

Watch out for more blog posts from Sangeetha Mobiles in this space. Good day!

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