Should India have more than one-time zone? What are the advantages of ...
Oct 28, 2017
Should India have more than one-time zone? What are the advantages of using Daylight Saving Time?
India is geographically the second-largest country not to have multiple time-zones- the People’s Republic of China being the other. Adopting two time zones for India is something that the Government ought to consider and look to implement. Far too many people in India operate in a time zone that is not an appropriate diurnal cycle for them.
Physical Expanse logic
India stretches from 97.4 East in Arunachal to 68 East in Gujarat — almost 30 degrees of longitude which is more than enough to have two time-zones. There is no doubt that there will be some initial chaos, particularly to time-tables but globally several nations, particularly the United States, maintain multiple time-zones. It may not be a bad idea for the country to explore the possibility of two time zones which could well lead to greater efficiencies among the workforce and on energy consumption.
History of time in India
- Indian Standard Time, which is five and a half hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time (+5.30 GMT), is an anachronism like many systems that were inherited from the British. In fact, India did not have any single time zone until as late as 1906.
- A cursory history of time in India reveals that the cities of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras (the three Presidencies, as the British called them) had their own time zones, and these were determined almost precisely by their geographical longitude.
- Calcutta Time, adjusted for the eastern-most city, was set at +5.54 GMT; 24 minutes ahead of the current IST.
- Madras Time was just nine minutes behind the current IST and was the closest precursor in terms of actual time to IST.
- Bombay Time, on the other hand, was +4.51 GMT.
- So in colonial times, there was a one-hour-nine-minutes time difference between Kolkata and Mumbai. Yet, today these cities, which are 1,650km apart, share the same time.
- Only in the tea estates of Assam, where the concept of ‘bagaan time’ (estate time) exists, is there a provision for a separate time zone inside India. Bagaan time is one hour ahead of IST. Leave the tea estates though, and everything reverts to normal.
- In fact, while Kolkata fell in line with IST in 1948, Mumbai retained its own individual time zone till 1955 as a result of the Bombay Municipal Corporation (as it was known then) delaying the introduction of IST in 1906. This was due to popular resentment stemming from the trial of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, which was taking place at that time.
Single time zone argument and disadvantages
- Proponents of a single time zone argue that India is not as wide as China, which continues to have a single time zone (the country actually spreads across five time zones).
- In addition, if India were to implement two time zones, there would be utter chaos, not the least to long-distance railway schedules but also in the way business is conducted in India.
- The much talked-about chaos that will ensue if India adopts two time zones, is also a bit disingenuous. Several northern countries in Europe and most of the US adopt Daylight Saving Times. People there put their watches back and forward twice a year. There are some missed flights and a bit of confusion, but nothing as bad as the disaster theorists have predicted.
- But there is another aspect, common to the Chinese and Indian desires to maintain single time zones over vast nations — the ‘unity’ theory. A single time, a single shared experience, no matter where you are in India, unifies the nation. That is definitely a strong ideal, but also slightly flawed because it does not take advantage of the light.
Two-time zones argument
- Changing time zones when we travel internationally can seriously disturb physical cycles. If the sun rises too early and sets too early, or vice versa, as per the local time, it can also disturb body cycles.
- But being in the same time zone where the sun is high in the sky in Kolkata and barely rising in Mumbai, is strange. After all, these two cities are an hour apart by their natural time zones.
- There are also economic benefits to having two different time zones; people will be able to work better and plan better, according to natural cycles rather than the one imposed by the state.
- Higher energy consumption: A conservative estimate shows that starting the day an hour earlier would result in a saving of about 550 MW of power in northeast India alone.
- Social stigma with night / darkness: Every city has an apparent safe time limit for strolling in the night. This would be earlier for eastern states by at least a couple of hours. This in turn might cause lesser customers at the night life (restaurants, pubs) venues, and hurting the economy a bit. Moreover, safety of citizens puts additional burden on our already overburdened police force.
Daylight Saving Time (DST)
Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of setting the clocks forward 1 hour from standard time during the summer months, and back again in the fall, in order to make better use of natural daylight.
- US inventor and politician Benjamin Franklin first proposed the concept of DST in 1784, but modern Daylight Saving Time was first suggested in 1895.
- Less than 40% of the countries in the world use DST.
- Some countries use it to make better use of the natural daylight in the evenings. The difference in light is most noticeable in the areas at a certain distance from Earth's equator.
- Some studies show that DST could lead to fewer road accidents and injuries by supplying more daylight during the hours more people use the roads. Other studies claim that people's health might suffer due to DST changes.
DST is also used to reduce the amount of energy needed for artificial lighting during the evening hours. However, many studies disagree about DST's energy savings, and while some studies show a positive outcome, others do not.