[Editorial Analysis] Instead of disrupting Indian Standard Time, Northeast can tweak its office hours

Mains Paper 1: Geography

Prelims level: IST

Mains level: IST importance and significance

Context

• India is a large country. The distance between the eastern border and western border traverses 29 degrees of longitude.

• In practice, this leads to a difference of two hours between the east and the west in the rising/setting of the sun.

• The issue of multiple time-zones for a country like India keeps resurfacing.

• It has resurfaced again with a paper in Current Science in October 2018 by scientists from the CSIR-National Physical Laboratory.

• The paper is titled, “Necessity of ‘two time zones: IST-I (UTC + 5:30 h) and IST-II (UTC + 6:30 h)’ in India and its implementation”.

About UCT standard time

• UCT stands for universal coordinated time, earlier known as GMT and still popularly known as that.

• “The people, legislators and industrialists from Northeast part of the country have been demanding a separate time zone for a long time as they genuinely face problems with the existing Indian Standard Time (IST).

• The existing IST is said to be badly affecting their lives as the sun rises and sets much earlier than the official working hours.

• Early sunrise leads to loss of many daylight hours by the time offices or educational institutions open.

• In winter, this problem gets even more severe as the sun sets much early and therefore, more consumption of electricity is required to keep life active.

The proposed recommendations of two time zones are based on:

• The importance of sunrise and sunset timings on the biological activities of living beings;

• Simple analyses of synchronising the sunrise and sunset timings across the country to the usual office hours of 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

• Minimisation of the spatial extension at the proposed border of time demarcation so as to avoid any kind of railway accidents;

• If the proposed time-zones would be beneficial for the electricity saving; and five, the technical implementation mechanisms of the proposed two new time-zones in the country.”

• The paper’s conclusion is that it’s feasible to have two time zones in the
country.

• The present IST (IST-I) is fine for the rest of India.

• But there should be an IST-II for Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

• The IST wasn’t standardised until 1905/06.

• Even then, Calcutta Time officially lasted till 1948 and Bombay Time lasted quasi-officially till 1955.

Conclusion

• Since the railways were constructed by private companies, they had their own timetables, not invariably synchronised with the “official” times.

• A paper citing the energy efficiency argument (with multiple time-zones) surfaced in the 1980s.

• In 2001, a Department of Science and Technology Committee examined the issue.

• Then, in 2004, the then Minister of Science and Technology told Rajya Sabha, “Since the expanse of the Indian State is not large, no need has been felt for different time zones.”

• That of course is not an argument against a relook.

• Northeast from 8 am to 4.30 pm? Tea-gardens still follow that practice.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) It is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests. It had launched a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative for allowing PSUs and Companies to adopt endangered species in India some time back. It refers to?

a) Wildlife Institute of India (WII)

b) World Wild Life Fund (WWF), India

c) ENVIS Centre on Wildlife & Protected Areas

d) Forest Research Institute, India

Answer: A

Mains Questions:

Q.1) Without disrupting the IST, surely it is possible to have working hours, and office-hours in the Northeast from 8 am to 4.30 pm? Comment.

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