The Telecommunications services in India had a very long journey through the centuries.
Telegraphs was part of the Public Works department in 1951. Separate Department of Telegraphs was opened in 1954. There were one Superintendent in Delhi and three Deputy Superintendents at Bombay, Madras and Pegu (Burma) There were Inspectors at Indore, Agra, Cawnpore and Benares.
The Indo-European Telegraph Department ( later Overseas Communications) was administered by a Director-in-Chief from London. This was merged with the Indian Telegraph Department in 1888.
Postal Department was separate. In 1914, on the eve of the II World war, both the Departments were amalgamated and the new Department of Posts and Telegraphs was formed.
Posts and Telegraphs evoked keen interest among the people and also legislators. 152 questions were asked and replied in the Indian Legislative Assembly in 1923-24 alone. Separate accounting procedure was adopted for the four units of the Department viz. Postal, telegraph, telephone and wireless in 1925. During 1930-31 world economic recession, a large number of employees were retrenched. Pay scales were reduced.
P&T Department was set up as a welfare measure and profit was not the motto. 1950 saw a great change with the telephone services, of all the princely states, 196 exchanges, being merged with the P & T Department. The staff of the princely states in telephones were merged with P&T Department. This was a major step in HRD. There was separate Budget for P and T.
Till 31st December 1984, Posts and Telegraphs was one Department. However, by that time the separate Budget for P&T was already discontinued. On 1st January 1985, P&T was bifurcated in to two departments ie. Department of Posts and Department of Telecommunications. Telegraphs was part of Telecommunications.
In the 1986, MTNL was formed in carving out the telecom services of metro cities Delhi and Mumbai as also VSNL was formed by corporatising Overseas Communications. BSNL was formed in 2000 by corporatising the telecom services allover India, except in Delhi and Mumbai.
In 2020 VRS was implemented resulting in reduction of staff by about 50%. 78569 employees took VRS, leaving less tan that number in BSNL. The case is not different with MTNL.
Telecom Services in India is completing 170 years. Govt is on the job of privatisation, though the Minister says that it will not be privatised or closed.
The destiny of BSNL and MTNL now depends on the strength of the trade union movement to fight and defeat the govt’s anti PSU policy.
It is not a question of BSNL alone. It is the future of the entire PSUs that is in peril.
Fight and defeat the anti-worker, anti-PSU policy of the government.