Need to Change Indian Standard time(IST)

14/8/2016 776 Geography | geomorphological issues | View Recent Current Affairs

  •  The time zone for India is based on 82.5° E longitude, passing through Mirzapore, U.P. This makes India five hours and 30 minutes ahead of the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), based on the prime meridian. This is defined as the Indian Standard Time (IST), and has been our official time since independence in 1947.
  • But now expert suggested that there should be a change in IST to six hours ahead of UTC, instead of the present five-and-a-half hours. This would shift the longitude on which IST is based from 82.5° E to 90° E longitude at Bengal-Assam border.

Analysis:

  • There is a possibility that by advancing the IST by half an hour will save energy by up to three billion units every year. This may reduce the energy demand in the evenings as domestic lighting will be reduced by about 16%. This has many economic and operational benefits. It also saves about Rs 1500 crore per annum for the nation.
  • From West to East, India spans from 68° 7' E to 97° 25' E of the 0° longitude or the prime meridian. A spread of more than 29° implies almost two hours time difference in sunrises and sunsets between east and west part of the country. However, it is essential for a country to follow a standardised time so that offices, transport systems and communication systems can function smoothly. The current IST (UTC+5:30hrs) means that people in northeastern states have to work late into the dark, even though sun rises and sets early in their region. The current IST generates a heavy load in electricity, especially in the evenings which most companies find hard to meet and imposes substantial economic loss to the nation.
  • However, there are some other alternate solution to address this issue like separate time zones and DST(Daylight Saving Time).
  • Separate time zone: India has a huge population; if the country were divided into two time zones, there would be chaos at the border between the two zones. It would mean resetting clocks with each crossing of the time zone. There is scope for more dangerous kinds of confusion. Railway signals are not fully automated and many routes have single tracks. Trains may meet with major accidents owing to human errors. Just one such accident would wipe out any benefits resulting from different time zones in the country. Partitioning the already divided country further into time zones may also have undesirable political consequences.
  • Daylight Saving Time (DST), wherein the time in summer is advanced by one hour and retracted during winter. This enables people to enjoy sunlight longer in summer and avoid the inconveniences of late sunrises and early sunsets during winter. But there are some problems associated with it . As is known, the sun always rises at 6 a.m. on the Equator and sets at 6 p.m. irrespective of the season. It is the tilt of the axis round which the earth rotates by 23.5°, that causes the length of days and nights to change as we go further away from the equator towards the north or the south. At the poles the sun does not set for six months and does not rise for six months. In tropical countries, the duration of light and darkness over the seasons does not vary widely. If we were to introduce DST in India, the inconvenience of time adjustment during summer and winter months would involve the whole country, happening twice a year, with marginal benefits. The possibilities of rail accidents would still be high. Even in the U.S. and Canada, road accidents increase discernibly in the days immediately following the change.
  • So, the proposal of advancing IST by half an hour avoids the problems apprehended in the other two proposals (of time zones and DST) but provides maximum energy saving during evening hours when the utilities fail to supply continuous power.

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