Reset IST for NE

Dear Editor,
Every place in the world has a Natural local time. It is calculated by multiplying the longitude by 4 minutes. However, time zones are decided by DST standards, international and national conventions. In India, both the westernmost Gujarat (68°E) and the easternmost Arunachal Pradesh (97°E) observe the same standard time zone. India accepts longitude (82.5°E) as their Indian Standard Time UTC+5:30 (Coordinated universal Time) which is the world time standard since 1972. It is successor to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). GMT is a time zone and UTC is a time standard. In the ideal world scenario, the time difference between Gujarat and Arunachal Pradesh would have been around 2 hours. She followed one time zone since independence, although Kolkata and Mumbai retained their own local time until 1948 and 1955 respectively. Now IST is used in aviation industry, meteorologists and to synchronize time across internet networks. Therefore everything is easy to compute. There can be lifestyle change if the difference between natural time zone and standard time zone largely differs.
The North East India region is closer to Dhaka, which is 30 minutes ahead of New Delhi. It shares borders with China, Myanmar and Bhutan as well as Bangladesh. Like north east, western states are also falling trap with single time zone. India would have saved 2.7 billion units of electricity every year by shifting the IST meridian eastward from 82.5°E longitude in Uttar Pradesh to 90°E near the Assam-Bengal border. Gujarat pushed back office and school timings by an hour. Even nationalised bank do follow state govt guidelines. Surprisingly Rajasthan went ahead with half an hour. In south India, people go to temple in the evening. So Mumbai, the city never sleeps. Even British knew it for Tea plantation in Assam, where ‘bagan time’ (tea garden time) started at 6:00 am one hour ahead of IST to make the most of the daylight. The plantation labour act 1951 allows setting local time for a particular area.
The delay over availability and usability of daylight and dark hours had resulted in massive losses for NE region. Definitely there is a loss of energy and workable hours. A person is fresher in the morning, but by the time at 10 o’clock he has lost that energy. This is one major reason why people living in the west of time meridian are more productive, progressive and prosperous than the people living in its east. It has a long lasting effect to our work culture. Despite Eastern India is blessed with an abundance of mineral wealth, their productivity is low, infrastructure poor and employment opportunities meagre. Overall, the perception is that people of eastern India are lazy and unproductive. And we are forced to observe UTC 5:30 that is very indifferent for us. Being placed in extreme east, our daylight differs with national time zone. Even daylight saving time (DST) was used by military during China-Indian war of 1962 and Indo-Pak wards of 1955 and 1971. Two time zones will benefit eastern as well as western states of India. Slowly NE aware and realise that they have literally been kept in the dark, and now they feel alienated.
In ancient times, the irregular daily movement of the sun made puzzle to make equation of time. The improvements to the solar tables and the value of obliquity were done during medieval and renaissance period. The 17th century pendulum brought significance change for reliable clock. In 1980, a team of researchers proposed three time zones of British-era but recommendations were not adopted. In 2006, the Planning Commission said having two time zones would lead to substantial energy savings in a country that frequently suffers power outages, but the central government rejected the plan. Scientists from the National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bengaluru studied the problem and concluded that separate time zones would cause chaos and might not lead substantial energy savings. On the other hand, it has several disadvantages. Instead they advocated a 30-minute advancement of IST. Our lifeline train systems are not automated. Collisions of US train in 1853 led to the setting up of the general time convention i.e. Railway Time. A ship would use nautical standard time upon leaving its territorial waters. However, it is unlikely that India will go ahead with different time zone.
Today all nations use standard time zone and some follow half-hour, quarter-hour deviations from standard time. Also many countries adopt DST by advancing clocks by an hour start of spring and adjusting back in autumn. NE must reset the clock in the State an hour or two ahead of IST to save energy and increase productivity. Even five day week will bring not only improving productivity but also saving electricity consumption. Our tourism industry will surely get boost up. International event like games are often suffered for unknown knowledge of outsiders to our region. Neighbouring Bangladeshi offers quality manpower at competitive prices. Is that because of UTC 06:00? Many other central govt departments in like Railway, Defence have their own working hours as per region. The United States observes four different DST. Australia has three and Russia has nine. But being big country China has only one time zone ‘Beijing time’ to enhance national unity. The United Kingdom is not on GMT all year, it uses British Summer Time (BST), which is one hour ahead of GMT, during the summer months. In Arab, people stay inside during day hours to avoid extreme heat. Even schools open in evening there. Our neighbouring Bangladesh follows 5 day week to save power. Hope India will give a serious thought to examine the merits of resetting IST to save precious DST for North East as well as the Western region.
Kamal Baruah,



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