Within six years of the invention of the Telephone by Alexander Graham Bell, the telephone bell started jingling in India. The Orienu. Telephone and Electric Company Ltd., a London based firm, was granted licence by the then Governor General to set up telephone exchanges at Bombay, Calcutta and Madras in November 1881. The telephone exchanges formally started functioning at these places on 28 January 1882.

It was a truly humble beginning for the telephones with barely two dozen subscribers at Madras and a somewhat higher number of 90 and 102 at Bombay and Calcutta respectively. The telephones had a rough weather in view of opposition from commercial establishments. As late as in 1900 there appeared an advertisement in a leading newspaper of Madras "Take a telephone on concession. We will be happy to demonstrate the working of a telephone to any one who calls on us". What a different story it had been with the Company having to literally peddle telephones!

In 1923, the Oriental Telephone & Electric Company set up three different companies. The Madras Telephone Company, The Bombay Telephone Company and The Bengal Telephone Corporation to cater to a larger clientele. By that time, as per the available reports, Madras had 1224 telephone connections, whereas Bombay and Calcutta had nearly 6,000 and 9,000 subscribers. At present, Madras has 19 telephone exchanges with 1.21 lakh telephones, Bombay has 43 exchanges with 4.58 lakh telephones and Calcutta has 45 exchanges with 2.59 lakh telephones.

Since Independence, India has made special efforts to indigenously manufacture telephone instruments, their accessories and other materials for telecommunication services. The Indian Telephone Industries was established at Bangalore as a public undertaking in 1948. Since then great strides have been taken in the expansion of telecommunication facilities in the country.

Special attention is being paid to the establishment of long distance communications. Several multi-channel coaxial and microwave systems have been commissioned, making available large blocks of high grade trunk circuits and telephone facilities all over the country. The major cities in the country have been connected through Subscriber Trunk Dialling system. Over 272 cities are now on the national STD network. International subscriber dialling service has also been introduced on a limited scale to start with. Full advantage is being taken of the communication satellite and of our own Satellite Earth Stations. At the time of Independence we had only about 1.1 lakh telephones in the country; now this number has exceeded 29 lakhs. Staring with the metropolitan cities, telecommunication services have spread far and wide and they are now serving the people in all the nooks and corners of the country.

Indian Posts and Telegraphs Department is privileged to issue a special postage stamp to commemorate the 100 years of telephone services in the country.

Description of Designs :

The stamp and first day cover were designed by C.R. Pakrashi and the first day cancellation by Charanjit Lai.

This list was prepared by Dr. Jinadatha

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